Tin foil rubbings made off invisible decorative surfaces of reused floor blocks at Khonsu Temple

Jul 17, 2020

To read about the Survey's work at Khonsu Temple, click here.  

Most of the dismantled earlier temple's blocks were reused in the floors and foundations of the Ramesside Khonsu Temple (@arcenational), rendering the photographic documentation of the decorated surfaces impossible. Considering these circumstances and the time that could be spent with each fragment, a salvage documentation methodology had to be developed. The drawings were based on direct tracings of the relief, and some stages of the collation process were abandoned to save time while still allowing a system of cross-checks to be implemented.⠀ ⠀

The drawing process began with the clearance of the reused block's decorated face that - in some cases - was relatively easy if a neighboring block or blocks had already been removed in antiquity. In these situations, it was possible for the artist to make a direct tracing of the relief onto a sheet of high-quality clear acetate using a permanent marker. More often, however, the decorated faces were situated in the narrow gaps between in situ blocks; these required more skill to record.⠀ ⠀

Occasionally one of these gaps were wide enough to allow a small mirror to be slipped into the crack, allowing an indirect view of at least a portion of the surface. For the most part, however, it was necessary to make rubbings of the carved surfaces onto aluminum foil, a labor-intensive process that rarely revealed more than a few square centimeters at a time.⠀ ⠀

Nevertheless, these impressions produced on the foil could then be slipped beneath the clear acetate and traced as if they were the original surface of the block. Once a field drawing was completed, the artist copied the original tracing onto another piece of acetate in the studio in order to refine the ink lines of the original before handed over for collation.

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