Painted details on MHB 95, a raised relief square pillar face in the Ambulatory of the Small Amun Temple at Medinet Habu

Aug 22, 2020

Examining paint traces in the Ambulatory of the Small Amun Temple at Medinet Habu involved a painstaking combination of persistent spraying of the surface with alcohol (the substance to give a temporary shine to the remaining pigment on the wall) and detective work (looking for parallels resembling our faint paint scars). Paint preservation in the temple is affected by a number of factors, with the most obvious among them being the level of protection from the elements. ⠀ ⠀

In this regard, the Inner Sanctuaries are obviously in a much more fortunate condition, exhibiting a plethora of details in certain areas. Nonetheless, even these well-hidden gems had to be thoroughly cleaned from centuries of soot and grime in order to be studied and photographed. Complicating factors of studying the Ambulatory's paintings are 1) being in a much more open space, 2) bearing multiple stages of paint episodes (with 2-3 separate layers of paint on top of each other), and 3) being partially covered up with white plaster at a certain point during the temple's history. ⠀ ⠀

Nonetheless, some of the raised relief square pillar faces (turning inwards towards the bark shrine) still hold some of their original polychrome decoration. An excellent example of the 18th Dynasty paint scheme applied in the Ambulatory is exhibited by MHB 95, the 3rd pillar on the south side of the temple depicting king Thothmes III receiving life from Amun. On MHB 95, the traditional Thutmoside decorative scheme of the king in a simplistic white rectangular kilt and green/blue broad collar pattern is complemented by Amun's more elaborate costume design, a restoration by later ancient artists after the scene was damaged in the Amarna period.⠀ ⠀

To be continued...⠀

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