Painted details, preserved on a reused early Ramesside block at Khonsu Temple, represented in color

Sep 17, 2020

Color representation in epigraphic documentation can not be more difficult than salvaging the decorative surfaces of the reused fragments built into the floors, walls, and roof of the Ramesside Khonsu Temple at Karnak. Although the Survey's primary goal could only be to document the carved details, occasionally, we could get a glimpse of exquisitely painted details, preserved in pristine condition in their utter isolation.⠀ ⠀

One of the best-preserved painted surfaces was recovered on a Post Amarna block that was recarved/completed during the early Ramesside period, most probably during Ramses II. The peculiar dating makes it even more interesting, suggesting that this segment of the earlier Khonsu Temple was completed shortly before it s dismantling. ⠀ ⠀

While working below the floor level in Chapel 12, our epigraphic team was able to recover two blocks attributable to Ramesses II that likely can be associated with the earlier Khonsu temple, based on the god's name and epithet. Each block features a single band of horizontal inscription carved in sunk relief, positioned above a scene crowned by a sky sign on top.⠀ ⠀

Luckily, one of these blocks was not placed entirely against the corresponding floor block, producing just enough of a gap to lower a flashlight and make some direct observations of its surface. Upon removing some sand, a mobile camera could be maneuvered into this space providing blurry images of a few hieroglyphs. What we could see was a perfectly preserved face (hr) sign with the most bizarre facial features painted in great detail. In this instance, the line drawing based on our tin foils squeezes, could be extended by a color pencil representation adding a kind of detail that was sourly absent on many other drawings.⠀

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