Seventh Field Season (Spring 2014)

The seventh field season of the Musawwarat Graffiti Project continued the systematic documentation strategy developed during the previous seasons, including the descriptive and photographic documentation of all preserved graffiti. Documentation focussed on Complex 500, especially on densely decorated walls with multiple superimpositions and juxtapositions, which are hoped to help establish a relative chronology of graffiti (making) at Musawwarat. These densely decorated (and extremely labour intensive) walls include 506/507-509, 513/510, 513/511 and 513/516+517.

An experimental study during the spring 2014 field season was dedicated to better understanding techniques of graffiti making. Undecorated blocks were recovered from excavation debris from the 1960s campaigns led by Fritz Hintze. The surfaces of these blocks were subjected to graffiti making using incision and various abrasion techniques observed in the ancient graffiti. Incising fine curved lines, similar to those that characterise many of the early graffiti, proved difficult. Due to the hard yellow-brown ‘crust’ or ‘patina’ covering the soft whitish sandstone of the block interior there was little control over the regularity of the lines, regardless if fine-tipped metal tools or pointed stones were used. Once the ‘crust’ was removed from the block surface, for example by abrading it with a flat stone, the new white and soft sandstone surface was easily incised with fine regular lines using pointed tools made from wood, stone or metal. It can be assumed that many of the ancient very finely and intricately incised graffiti were made when the sandstone surfaces were still rather ‘fresh’ and soft, having been polished during building and re-building or maintenance processes.

Participants: Cornelia Kleinitz, Jens Weschenfelder, Juliette Brauer, Julius Bussilliat & Franziska Lehmann

Dates: March/April 2014

Duration: 6 weeks

Funding: Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project

Text: Cornelia Kleinitz (2014)

Side Photo
Still some blocks left to document... (photo: Cornelia Kleinitz, 2014)

Side Photo
Cemetery of damaged stools (photo: Cornelia Kleinitz, 2014)