Unique pigments of two,000-year-old inscriptions on the temple of Esna revealed

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed

Greater than 200 years after the rediscovery of an Egyptian temple, a German-Egyptian analysis workforce has uncovered the unique colours of inscriptions which can be round 2,000 years outdated. Free of thick layers of soot and filth, the reliefs and inscriptions can now be admired once more in brilliant colours. The undertaking, led by Egyptologist Professor Christian Leitz, additionally found new inscriptions that reveal the traditional Egyptian names of constellations for the primary time. The restoration work is a cooperation between the Institute for Historic Close to Jap Research (IANES) on the College of Tübingen and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
The temple of Esna, seen from the east (spring 2019)
[Credit: Ahmed Amin]

The temple is in Esna, 60 kilometers south of Luxor in Egypt. Solely the vestibule (referred to as the pronaos) stays, however it’s full. At 37 meters lengthy, 20 meters extensive and 15 meters excessive, the sandstone construction was positioned in entrance of the particular temple constructing below the Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) and doubtless eclipsed it. The roof is supported by 24 columns, the capitals of the 18 free-standing columns are embellished with completely different plant motifs. “In Egyptian temple structure that is an absolute exception,” says Tübingen Egyptologist Daniel von Recklinghausen.

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
A restored column capital (spring 2019) exhibits the ornament in coloration
[Credit: Ahmed Amin]

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
Element of a frieze (autumn 2019). The cartouche comprises the identify of Hadrian,
framed by the native god Khnum (left) and the photo voltaic god Behedeti (proper)
[Credit: Ahmed Amin]

The work on the frilly decorations in all probability took as much as 200 years. The temple of Esna is legendary for its astronomical ceiling and particularly for the hieroglyphic inscriptions. They’re thought of to be the newest coherent hieroglyphic textual content corpus that has been preserved at the moment and which de-scribes the spiritual concepts of the time and the cult occasions on the web site.

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
A column abacus earlier than restoration [Credit: Ahmed Amin]

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
A column abacus after restoration [Credit: Ahmed Amin]

Its location in the course of town middle in all probability contributed to the truth that the vestibule was preserved and was not used as a quarry for constructing supplies as different historic edifices had been through the industrialization of Egypt. Certainly, the temple had turn out to be a part of the fashionable metropolis. Homes and shacks had been constructed immediately towards a few of its partitions, elsewhere it protruded from a mountain of rubble, as may be seen on postcards from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Within the first half of the 19th century, the corridor served briefly as a warehouse for cotton.


Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
The restoration work exhibits that below many layers the unique
colours are preserved [Credit: Ahmed Amin]

As early as in Napoleon’s time, the pronaos attracted consideration in knowledgeable circles, because it was thought of a perfect instance of historic Egyptian temple structure. The true wealth, the inscriptions, was acknowledged by the French Egyptologist Serge Sauneron (1927-1976), who pushed forward with the excavation of the temple and printed the inscriptions in full. However with out the unique colours—Sauneron couldn’t acknowledge them below the layers of soot and chook excrement.

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
Egyptian constellations on the ceiling of the temple of Esna, inscriptions as but unknown.
Far proper the east wind within the type of a scarab beetle with a ram’s head
[Credit: Ahmed Amin]

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
Illustration of a constellation in type of a mummy
[Credit: Ahmed Amin]

Now the layers have been eliminated and the temple appears to be like partially as it could have accomplished some 2,000 years in the past. As well as, it now gives new approaches for Egyptology analysis, says Christian Leitz, “The hieroglyphics that Sauneron explored had been usually solely very roughly chiseled out, the main points solely utilized by portray them in coloration. Which means that solely preliminary variations of the inscriptions had been researched. Solely now will we get an image of the ultimate model.” Within the space of the astronomical ceiling, many inscriptions weren’t executed in aid, however solely painted in ink. “They had been beforehand undetected below the soot and are actually being uncovered piece by piece. Right here we’ve got discovered, for instance, the names of historic Egyptian constellations, which had been beforehand utterly unknown,” says Leitz.

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
The constellation Orion as Osiris (left) and Sothis as Isis (proper)
[Credit: Ahmed Amin]

Original pigments of 2,000-year-old inscriptions at the temple of Esna revealed
The circumpolar constellation, the Huge Dipper, within the form of a bull’s leg. It consists of seven stars
and is tied to a stake by a goddess in hippo kind. The Huge Dipper is taken into account the manifestation
of the evil god Seth, who murdered his brother Osiris. The goddess prevents Seth
 from reaching Osiris within the underworld [Credit: Ahmed Amin]

Since 2018, the 2 Tübingen researchers have been working with Egyptian authorities to uncover, protect and doc the paint layers. Even through the coronavirus pandemic, the work is being continued by an Egyptian workforce of 15 restorers and a chief conservator from the Egyptian Ministry. At common intervals, the outcomes are documented photographically in documentation campaigns. On the College of Tübingen, the finds are evaluated when it comes to content material and made accessible to the general public through publications. Cooperation companions on the Egyptian facet are Dr. Hisham El-Leithy, Mohamed Saad, Ahmed Amin, Mustafa Ahmed, Ahmed Emam. The undertaking is supported by the Gerda Henkel Basis, the Historic Egypt Basis and the Santander Financial institution.

For extra data, see www.esna-projekt-tuebingen.de

Supply: College of Tübingen [November 11, 2020]

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