Geophysics at Karnak – Intensive GPR survey and the beginning of the end of the survey

The latest work on the THaWS project has been marked by the intensity of survey profiles and survey areas covered, and  the fact that the team have been working almost exclusively in and around Karnak temple. The transition of the … Continue reading

The latest work on the THaWS project has been marked by the intensity of survey profiles and survey areas covered, and  the fact that the team have been working almost exclusively in and around Karnak temple. The transition of the GPS survey from the West to the East Bank went smoothly, as reported in the last post. We established a base station on the roof of Chicago House on the West Bank, with the very kind permission of the staff. Some wonderful views were visible across the Nile to the banana plantation and desert edge on the West Bank, andthe set-out made survey convenient for the work at Karnak.

Sarah setting up the base station

Sarah setting up the base station

Much of the ERT profile work was supervised this week by Angus and Ginger, with Dom and myself on the GPR with Sarah wielding the GPS. The plan was to expand on last year’s survey and run a series of ERT and GPR profiles in north-south and west-east directions across the temple complex. Work on the GPR was started running from west to east to the north of the Hypostyle Hall, past the Midddle Kingdom Court and out through the east gate of the Nectanebo enclosure, with other profiles following north-south through the Hypostyle Hall, and past the obelisks near the third and fourth pylons.

Dom and the team on the GPR to the south of the Hypostyle Hall

Dom and the team on the GPR to the south of the Hypostyle Hall

GPR near the second pylon

GPR near the second pylon

The instrument was set to 160ns, so approximately 8m depth. The results from near the temple had some attentuation from c. 6.50m, however a number of anomalies showed up at a depth of 6m or greater. In addition to the long profiles, we conducted several area surveys with the GPR, including the Hypostyle Hall, the Forecourt and, today, the area close to the excavations along the waterfront outside of the Tribune.

The work this week also gave the team a good opportunity to see some of the lesser-visited areas within the Nectanebo enclosure. This included the First, Third and Fourth Courts, up to the gate of the 10th Pylon. The end of one profile gave us time to admire the carving on the 10th pylon, cut into granite, and the view south along the processional way to the Mut Precinct.

Carving on the east facing wall of the western side at the 10th pylon

Carving on the east facing wall of the western side at the 10th pylon

Two profiles were also surveyed in the vicinity of the Temple of Khonsu in the south-western part of the complex. We finished the week outside of the main enclosure in and around the Montu enclosure, the scene of work with Angus, Sarah and Sally Ann Ashton in 2006 and 2007, and with Angus in 2008. The GPR and ERT profiles ran along the outer side of the Nectanebo enclosure wall to the Gate of Ptah, then east from the Gate to the Le Chevrier drain further east. We also ran the GPR along the old ERT profile to the north of the northern Montu enclosure gate, picking out the Ptolomaic and Roman structures surroundin the Montu enclosure.

GPR outside of the Montu Enclosure running west to east

GPR outside of the Montu Enclosure running west to east

It was intriguing to revisit some of these areas from previous seasons of work, and see some of the differences there, including the construction of the SCA wallto the north.

Sadly for the last two days I have been stuck in the office processing GPS, ERT and GPR data, focusing on the Karnak results, and soon to be moving on to the West Bank data. Some interesting anomalies have come out of the data this year, and the opportunity to compare the ERT data with the GPR is useful. Two different techniques collecting data  to different depths is certainly useful, if a little more complex. The GPR will provide an interesting counterpoint to the broader brush-strokes of the ERT results in the coming days.


Kom El Hetan, Thutmoses III and Karnak – from the West to the East Bank

A few days of work have happened since the last blog, and plenty has happened since the weekend. The team woke up on Monday to find that it had been raining all night in Luxor, and it continued until the … Continue reading

A few days of work have happened since the last blog, and plenty has happened since the weekend. The team woke up on Monday to find that it had been raining all night in Luxor, and it continued until the middle of the morning. So much so in fact that a huge pool of water developed next to the flat entrance. The inadequate drainage meant that around 3pm a van turned up and pumped the water away.

Reis Omer by the pool

Reis Omer by the pool

The poor weather, pretty incredible by Luxor standards, prevented any fieldwork that day (everything shut down, and it seemed pointless to survey using ERT and GPR on the West Bank) so a day of office work was planned instead.

By Tuesday morning the weather had improved, although a strong northerly wind was blowing, pushing that morning’s balloon parties on the West Bank across to South Luxor. The view from the balcony at 6.40am showed them going over the football ground next to the flat, and at least one landed in the fields along the Nile on the road to work.

Balloons over Luxor

Balloons over Luxor

Our work on Tuesday comprised finishing the survey at Kom el Hetan, then running GPR  along last year’s ERT profile 4, and conducting some tests of the ERT equipment in the centre of the profile, around one of Wilkinson’s ‘mounds’. The last GPR at Kom el Hetan was covered, and we put a station in for the Colossi team using the GPS. On the way back to the van a disturbance broke out among the workmen on site, and it turned out that a cobra had been disturbed mong the crates and pieces of statue in the third court.

Cobra

Cobra

A small crowd gathered, and one of the workmen, speaking to the snake, lured it out of the masonry to the edge of the area, the cobra turning different ways and spitting venom. We had to head back to the van, but the cobra was eventually ‘dispatched’ on site.

We then headed to P4 near the Ramesseum and ran the GPR over the profile, then commenced ERT. The main part of the day’s work was also the GPR and magnetometry to the east of the temple of Thutmoses III to the north. We ran the GPR over the entire area in the end, some 44m by 40m, over 3km of profile. The raw profiles seem to indicate anomalies on the axis of the excavated temple remains to the west.

Yesterday saw the team transition to the East Bank and Karnak temple. We set up the GPS base station again on the West Bank at Reis Ali’s house, then used this to establish a new station on the roof of Chicago House on the East Bank. We finished the day surveying with ERT and GPR at Karnak, running the GPR on two profiles across the temple axis, one of these through the hyperstyle hall, with Dom on the GPR console, and Reis Alaa and Yusuf pulling the antenna.

Dom on the GPR

Dom on the GPR

GPR near the second pylon

GPR near the second pylon

Wonderful shades and textures

Wonderful shades and textures

The survey made interesting viewing for the crowds of tourists pcoming iinto the hall by the mid-afternoon. Some anomalies were found along these (over 650m) lengthy profiles, and these will help us to plan the work here in the coming days. More back at Karnak this morning!


Day Two at Kom el Hetan

More area to survey today behind the Colossi of Memnon on the West Bank. We started the day one person down, as Dom’s insides are still rumbling, possibly due to the Egyptian cuisine.  He stayed in to do some office … Continue reading

More area to survey today behind the Colossi of Memnon on the West Bank. We started the day one person down, as Dom’s insides are still rumbling, possibly due to the Egyptian cuisine.  He stayed in to do some office work, and the rest headed out to cross the Nile. We continued the GPR survey behind the Colossi of Memnon, and ran two ERT profiles in front of the same. In addition Sarah’s search for survey stations from previous years continued with the GPS rover. She managed to find most points located between Kom el Hetan and the temple of Merenptah, and completed the morning surveying the bases of the Colossi for comparison with the survey data.

Sarah surveying in the north Colossus

Sarah surveying in the north Colossus

The survey here really brings home the scale of the colossi, with Sarah’s height reaching up to the top of the plinth. Their immensity is pretty sobering, especially considering the source and transportation of the materials used in their construction.

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Sarah near the south facing relief on the south colossus

The figures on the sides of the colossi are twice the height of a normal human. What intersts the team though is the presence of surrounding structures and channels relating to access to the temple and the river Nile. The team running the GPR continued to cover the area behind the Colossi. An area of 80m by 40m has been surveyed using a 200Mhz antenna in the last two days. Evidence to the west suggests that there might be some issues with salt encrusting any buried structures, which will affect the propagation of the GPR signal. However to date a number of anomalies are visible in the data which may relate to the lines of the Colossi. It is difficult to say at the moment – much more work and processing to be undertaken.

The GPR team standing on the line of the last GPR profile, aligned with the sides of the plinths of the Colossi

The GPR team standing on the line of the last GPR profile, aligned with the sides of the plinths of the Colossi

More about the work on the ERT survey will appear on this blog and on the EES blog in due course. In spite of the overcast weather spirits were high at the end of the day. Our van also got stopped on the way home by the ‘Sugar Train’ running along the West Bank from north to south, transporting sugar cane for processing.

The Sugar Train

The Sugar Train

Some youths were pulling out loose can sugar to strip and eat as the train passed slowly through. It took some 5 minutes to clear the road. Another good day in the field, hopefully some good results t oview after processing.


THaWS Project – Start of the week survey at Kom el Hetan

The start of another busy week in Thebes and the team headed back to the West Bank to commence GPR and ERT survey in the vicinity of Kom El Hetan and the Colossi of Memnon. The bus stopped however for … Continue reading

The start of another busy week in Thebes and the team headed back to the West Bank to commence GPR and ERT survey in the vicinity of Kom El Hetan and the Colossi of Memnon. The bus stopped however for a short visit to the impressive brickworks on the east bank to the south of Luxor. A massive chimney and a series of arched entrances leading to the kilns mark the site on the banks of the Nile.

Chimney at the brickworks

Chimney at the brickworks

Staircase on western curved side of the brickwork kilns

Staircase on western curved side of the brickwork kilns

In addition to the main double row of kiln entrances and the office building, a set of mudbrick stairs run up to the terrace of the kilns. A great little industrial site in some disrepair, and a diversion to the main tasks of the day on the West Bank.

The team also visited the University of Memphis team at tomb TT16 . Amazing wall and ceiling paintings in the first and second chambers, and really interesting to see how work was progressing. However this still wasn’t getting our tam on to the main business of the day.

We finally got to Kom El Hetan and the Colossi of Memnon Project who have spent the last 15 years excavating and reconstructing the colossi and other statues of the temple of Amonhotep III. The plan was to expand on last year’s survey with the kind invitation of Dr Hourig Sourouzian using GPR and ERT in the area of the Colossi to look at the line of the canal running between the Colossi to the Nile.

Dominic Barker using the GPR at the Colossi of Memnon

Dominic Barker using the GPR at the Colossi of Memnon

GPR survey under way

GPR survey under way

A grid for the GPR survey was established, and the first 15m of the ground behind the Colossi were surveyed today. Some correlations in the results in terms of the temple axis and position of the Colossi, but any further inference will have to wait for more data processing.

A 95m ERT profile was also set out immediately to the west, going to a depth of approximately 8m to see if the profile of a canal is visible.

ERT rofile at the Colossi

ERT profile at the Colossi

Hopefully the results of the survey will give us some idea of the presence or absence of channel and other features associated with access to the area from the Nile. Work will carry on here tomorrow, with some more GPR profiles corresponding with last year’s work to be completed.