Amara West project blog

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Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2014: preserving coffin decoration

Lifting coffin fragments in G244

Maickel van Bellegem, conservator, British Museum

After a good week of being on site, although for the first time in Sudan, I have settled into the routine of the excavation: work, sleep, get up early, and work (with breaks to eat in between). As project conservator I’ve been working on the painted plaster from coffins from Cemetery C. These rarely look like coffins –  over time they have collapsed over bones and objects, often turned into a powdery mass in the loose sand that has been blown into the tombs over time. With two coffins being excavated from different burial chambers in G244, I have been kept busy.

Michaela and Maickel transferring a rather long section of coffin side from near skeletib 244-13

Michaela and Maickel transferring a long section of coffin side from near skeleton 244-1

By consolidating in situ we might have a chance to recover some of the fragments of colour and get clues to the decorative scheme of each coffin. One example is the scheme of darker lines on a white background of the coffin lid of a male burial (skeleton 244-13) in the first chamber off the eastern side. Once consolidated, it can still be a tricky process to actually lift the section and transfer onto a board so that it can be transported to the dig house. On a coffin from chamber 244.5, on the western side of tomb, the preserved decoration includes patterns in yellow, red, blue and white.

Decorated coffin fragments in chamber G244.5

Decorated coffin fragments in chamber G244.5

After the plaster remains are lifted, further work is needed back in the dig house. This includes removing of sand, more consolidating and documentation. My remaining three weeks will also give me time to practice winding a turban to protect myself against wind, sand and sun.

Preparing for work at Amara West

Further work needed on turban…

Alongside regular updates on the blog, follow the season on Twitter: @NealSpencer_BM and #AmaraWest

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Filed under: Amara West 2014, archaeology, conservation, funerary, hinterland, New Kingdom, pottery, survey

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