Satellite imagery and a careful topographic survey of the sanctuary suggested that the water in the fields was draining underground toward the Nile river and that the temple occupies the lowest point in its path.

Satellite image of tell.  Note southern end surrounded by agricultural activity.

As long as this unfortunate arrangement remains the same, the temple blocks will continue to suffer not only from the ever greater amount of vegetation, but also from the much more damaging effects of an endless cycle of wetting and drying associated with local irrigation.  For when wet, the limestone blocks of the temple absorb the minerals and salts in the groundwater which in turn cause their surfaces to flake and fracture when dry.  Needless to say, the surfaces of these temple blocks with their delicate and unique relief carvings suffer the most.

Flooded irrigation trenches in the fields just to the southeast of the temple temenos.

At the present time, the U.C. Berkeley team is considering a number of possible plans aimed at remedying this difficult situation.  During the 2001 season, three of the temple blocks in various states of disrepair were selected to determine if the application of a consolidant might provide a temporary solution to the problem.  Other options currently being discussed involve the creation of a waterproof barrier around the temple, and possibly the acquisition of some of the fields around the archaeological site which are currently under cultivation.

Applying consolidant to the face of a limestone temple relief.

Until an acceptable solution is reached, the team can expect to spend a great deal of their limited time clearing the temple whenever they wish to investigate its remains.

Halfa grass sprouts atop temple wall.

previous page

Close this window