First Field Season (Spring 2008)

The first field season within the remit of the Musawwarat Graffiti Project was undertaken in February and March 2008. Based on archival work during the previous year, which included the digitisation and study of documents relating to previous field projects run by Ursula Hintze in the 1960s and Pawel Wolf in the 1990s, the then existing record relating to the Musawwarat graffiti was evaluated and checked in the field. Various shortcomings of previous documentation procedures were identified and a new block-based documentation strategy was developed and tested. To allow for the first time the exact description, situation and identification of each graffito in its location context, walls were: 1) photographed block by block under different lighting conditions to allow for maximum visibility of all artificial lines present, and 2) described block by block in writing according to a range of criteria (state of preservation of block surface and artificial lines, various line characteristics, superimpositions, juxtapositions, etc.).

To facilitate this work and to systematise the recording efforts an expandable motif thesaurus was begun to be developed. Various observations were noted concerning clustering or regular spacing of motifs, the presence or absence of plaster on the walls, possible ‘graphic traditions’, etc. Selected graffiti were traced directly from the walls onto transparent plastic sheets. Due to the large amount of time needed to create accurate tracings only a small selection of graffiti were documented using this method.

Participants: Cornelia Kleinitz & Jens Weschenfelder

Dates: February/March 2008

Duration: 6 weeks

Funding: The Packard Humanities Institute

Text: Cornelia Kleinitz (2014)

Side Photo
Beginning the descriptive documentation of tens of thousands of blocks at the Great Enclosure (photo: Cornelia Kleinitz, 2008)

Side Photo
Tracing of the so-called 'Holy Wedding' graffito with block edges, mason's marks and younger graffiti included (image: Cornelia Kleinitz, Jens Weschenfelder & Ralf Miltenberger, 2008)