Temple Cleared of Vegetation, Shows Signs of Rapid Decay

View of Sheshonq temple from west showing heavy vegetation.

When the U.C. Berkeley team arrived at  El Hibeh, it had been nearly 20 years since an archaeological expedition had documented the condition of the site's religious complex.  During those two decades the vegetation surrounding the tell found fertile ground in the meters of Nile sediment and now almost completely claimed the temple.  Grass covered the entire surface within the temple and a palm tree had even taken root in the southeastern corner of the structure.  The team quickly determined that before any survey of the temple could commence, the vegetation had to be cleared.

Workmen clearing temple of undergrowth.

The dense coverage of sharp halfa grass made clearing the temple an especially unwelcome and laborious task, but as the workmen made their way into the temple's interior, signs of the buildings rapid decay quickly became evident.  Relief blocks recorded and photographed in fair condition by previous archaeological teams everywhere appeared broken and crumbling.  Judging from the destruction caused by the growth of the palm tree, it was clear that the simple presence of the vegetation itself was partly to blame.

(left)  Temple Relief block showing effects of grass growth in the temple.
(right)  View of damage caused by palm tree in eastern half of temple.

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