(2008) Bolman, E. and L. Blanke, D. Brooks-Hedstrom, M. Khalifa, C. Meurice, S. Mohammed, G. Pyke, P. Sheehan. Late Antique and Medieval Painted Decoration at the White Monastery (Dayr al-Abiad), Sohag. Bulletin of the American Research Center i

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(2008) Bolman, E. and L. Blanke, D. Brooks-Hedstrom, M. Khalifa, C. Meurice, S. Mohammed, G. Pyke, P. Sheehan. Late Antique and Medieval Painted Decoration at the White Monastery (Dayr al-Abiad), Sohag. Bulletin of the American Research Center in
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  \\ Ihe hypostyle oll t (ornok worfs nd mozes isilors. his emple ill be one f he moin ocuses f AR(E's ew onservofiongronl rom SAID. hoto: olhleen coll In addition o these wo sites, thermonuments ncluding he Ramesseum nd the emains f the mortuary emples fMerenptah, ausert, nd Thutmose II willbenefit rom he proposed rogram.With a new multi-million ollarUSAID grant add-on o the Egyptian Antiquities onservation rogram EAC),The American Research enter n Egypt (ARCE) as begun n mportant ewmission n Upper Eg1pt. More han a yearago, ARCE was approached y USAID about he possibility f ARCE ndertakinga monitoring nd conservation rojectat the two temple complexes fter hecompletion f the groundwater oweringengineering roject. Ultimately, SAIDasked RCE o submit a proposal o themfor a conservation rogram or Karnak andLuxor. As a result, RCE ecently eceivedfunding o undertake he proposed orkwith an additional rant rom USAID orthe Egyptian ound equivalent f $8.8million. This sum s o be added o ARCE'sexisting 8.6 million Egyptian oundequivalent AC grant.The new ARCE rant nitiatives allfor the monitoring f the east anktemples'structural ntegrity s he waterrecedes rom he oundations, he activeconservation f damaged locks, heconstruction f a conservation aboratoryfor the use of conservation taff ofEgypt's upreme ouncil of Antiquities(SCA), training rogram or Egyptianconservators ho will be maintainins continued n oge  Lole nlique nd Medievol ointed ecorolion ot te White onoslery Doyr l-Abiod), ohog Elizsbeth . Bolmon, ouise lonke, orlene rooks edslrom, ohummed hulifo,(ddric eurice, ood ohqmmed, illion yke, nd eter heehon _-**"^.ri, idd Tl.re 'all painting conservation roject currentlyunderway at the Red Monastcry t)ayr Anba lishay),near Sohag, as aised hc profile of this monunrentconsiclerabl,v n recent ears, vith ts dranraticallycolorecl ate Antique murals.l 'lirday, the neighburrng\\rl.rite Monastery hurch appeafs o have only a f'ervareirs f painting, all meclieval. With funcling n theform of a grant rom AIiCfl's Anticluities nclownrentFuncl AF,F), llizabeth Jolman, ouise Blanke,Darlene Jrooks Hedstrour, Mohiimmed Khalifir, Cddric Meurice, Saad Moharnmecl, illian Pyke, ndPeter Sheehan, tudied he evidence or Late Antiquepaintecl laster t the White Monastery, vith veryir-rteresting esults.2 One nrportant omponent l'the projcct cor.nprisecl l'irst pliase of conservationancl protection of recently xcavated virll paintings,unclertaken y Luigi De Cesaris, lberto Sucato,and their assistants. We are grateful o the SuprenreCouncil of Antiquities br their collaboration, nd t..Bishop Yohannes nd he monlts of the monasteryfor their exceptional llpport and hospitality.3 W.examinecl ot only paintings n a srnall riconchfunerarv chapel excavated y the Egyptian SuprenreCouncil o1'Antiquities n 2002, but also emains ,"'I 't":: : ry l. The White onoslerychurch rom he oulhwesl, nApril, 006.Photo: . Bolmon 5 RII BrLLrtnr niism 92 FrLrW 'rrn 00/  2. he Trkonch unerory(hopel omplex rom heeosl, ifi he topel n hecenler f he hologroph,ond he diocenl oomsto he eh, onuory 007.Pholo: Sheehon of several hases f painting at east wo LateAntique, nd hree Medieval throughout he WhiteMonastery hurch tself. These ast discoveries aisethe question f when all of these ecorations n themonumental hurch were emoved.In Late Antiquity, he Monastery f St. Shenoute, commonly alled he White Monastery, as he centerof an enormous etwork f monks and nuns n theregion utside f Sohag, he ormer Panopolite ome.The settlement a federation f two men's monasteries,a nunnery, nd a group ofhermitages was oundedin the ourth century E and nhabited ontinuouslyuntil he hirteenth entury. Today, he so-called hite and Red Monasteries re but he gigantic hurches f these wo men's monasteries, tanding ithin historical remains nd new buildings ecently onstructed ytwo currently einvigorated onastic ommunities(fig. 1). The monastic eader who established he WhiteMonastery ederation as St. Shenoute 346-465). eis the most mportant nd well attested optic writer ofany period.a What makes he site of his Federation ouniquely mportant s the survival of complementaryevidence n many different media, n large uantities.The presence f archaeological emains, ocumentarytexts, monumental nd quotidian architecture, allpaintings, anuscript lluminations nd sculptureall testify o the vitality of monastic ife at hiscenter. Study f early monastic exts nd history s flourishing, ut knowledge bout he material ultureofits beginnings ags ar behind. There s probably no other archaeological ite rom Late Antiquity hatcomes ven lose o documenting he structure flife and activities f a monastic roup in this case population f thousands) n such magnificent etail.An international onsortium fscholars as ocusedtheir attention n multi-disciplinary tudies f theremains f Shenoute's ederation, haring he esults f discrete rojects.5 he AEF project o study videncefor paintings t he site of the White Monastery dds oour understanding f the Late Antique nd Medieval appearance f the site, ontributes o the corpus fEgyptian hristian all paintings rom hese eriods,and helps s understand ome f the architectural transformations hat happened ver he centuries o the White Monastery hurch. The riconch unerory hopel omplex: During excavations t he site n2002,an SCA eam led by Saad Mohammed ncovered he emains f apainted unerary hapel ith a crypt, nd an adjacentcomplex f rooms fig.2). Recently, dditional leaningand excavation y Sheehan as ndicated hree uilding phases, ll of which srcinally ad painted ecoration,and one of which ncluded reas f marble looring.The atest nd best urviving tructure lso howsevidence flater, omestic euse. he best-preservedparts of the building are he subterranean omb,several iers, ections f walls at he eastern nd of the triconch, nd some reas f the adjoining ooms o thesouth fthe chapel. hese ll nclude n situ paintedplaster. ubstantial uantities f fragments f paintedplaster ere also ound n the course f both he SCA excavations nd during he recent work, at which imethe specific ocation of groups f this material was carefully ecorded.De Cesaris bserved wo ayers f painted lasteron some f the standing alls above round, nd onelayer with a single ater addition) n the undergroundrooms. The surviving alls of the riconch re decorated ith non-figural esigns, nd show loseparallels o the Late Antique paintings ow being 6 AR[[ uLLnn umsrn 92 FrLL-Wnnn 00/  conserved t he Red Monastery, nd also o finds romother excavations e.g. he Monastery f Apa Apollo atBawit, and he Monastery f Apa eremias t Saqqara).The piers nclude races f patterns, depiction of fruittrees probably ignifying paradise), nd monochromerust-colored epictions f Christ. The principal olorsused or the non-figural decorations re gold, black,pink, red, green and brown.The underground omb consists f a narrow barrel-vaulted assage, small, hallow-domed ntrancewaywith rectangular iches on either side, nd a broadbarrel-vaulted urial chamber. The walls of the ombhave a ightly applied eries f depictions with subjectsthat are ypical of funerary contexts n the Late Antiqueperiod, and convey he hemes f resurrection ndparadise. These nclude gemmed rosses, azelles,eagles, nd peacocks fig.3). The dado hows emnantsof imitation white and gray marble cladding. The wallsof the entrance orridor mmediately receding hesechambers re painted with black ines, n an mitationofdressed hite stone. The color palette n theserooms s more estrained han hat of the paintingsaboveground, ncluding primarily ocher, ight yellow,rose, ream, nd black. A very ight, and somewhatawkwardly ainted standing igure appears o havebeen added o the north wall of the burial chamberafter he rest ofthe paintings were inished. The partialinscription accompanying t, above he figure's ead,indicates hat t is of St. Shenoute.6In ]anuary 2007,De Cesaris nd Sucato irected hestabilization f all of the paintings bove round, asthese ave been most hreatened y the sun, wind andsand.7 Some reas f plaster ad been detaching romthe walls, and have now been e-attached. racks ndareas f paint and plaster oss have been illed n tomake he surface onsiderably ore stable. Materialsused were consistent ith, but readily distinguishable from, he original materials. n some ases t wasnecessary o anchor he edges f the plaster ithlocalized nfiltrations of acrylic esin n a 35% emulsion (Acryl 33) mixed with micronized alcium carbonate.In a few areas f particular ragility, t was necessary osecure ortions of plaster with small strips of /apanesepaper, which were applied o the surface with an acrylic esin solution. Temporary rick walls were hen built 10cm rom the painted surfaces, ith the spacesbetween he paintings nd hese rotective walls illedwith clean and, s an nterim measure hile he utureofthe structure s being onsidered. he entranceto the crypt was also provided with a new and moresubstantial over. We plan urther conservation ork nthe chapel, nd are exploring trategies or its ong ermprotection nd display. Poinled lu$er rogmenls rom ie Tomb topel omplex: Plaster ragments f varying sizes nd states fpreservation ave been uncovered irst by the SCAas part of their excavations, nd more ecently ySheehan n the omb chapel omplex fig.4). Theircoloration and style ndicate hat they belong primarilyor exclusively o the atest of the Late Antiquephases f painting n the complex, orresponding ndensity of pigment coverage o the uppermost ayerof paint aboveground, nd n distinct contrast o themuch more ightly applied, estricted alette of the3. Gemmed ros ndGozelles, onel oult, omb ftomber, riconch hopel,Jonuory 007.Pholo: olmon 7 RIE ULLntl ur,rsrr 92 FALr-Wrltrm 00/  4. rogment f o Foce,Triconch hopel omplex,discovered n 2002 003by Sood ohommed ndhis eom.Pholo, 007: eolherEodomo nd Elizobeth hololAgoiby underground aintings. heir style s vigorous ndconfident, ncluding oth he use of outlining withits attendant tylization) nd passages endered n anillusionistic annet and s consistent ith EgyptianChristian aintings ery generally ated o the sixthcentury. Several ragments how emnants f facesand hands, ome learly elong o areas f non-figuraldecoration, nd others epict uch ypical eatures fEgyptian hristian wall paintings s wings with eyes(from he our ncorporeal iving creatures).Our work hus ar has ncluded he recording fthe archaeological ontext f the newly discoveredfragments, hotographing8 hem and storing both these nd he pieces ound by the SCA n 250 wooden trays. A study of these ragments s planned n orderto determine heir relationship o the plaster ayersremaining n situ and he architectural equenceestablished y Sheehan, nd o investigate he natureof the decorative cheme f the chapel nd headjacent ooms. The White onoslery turch n Lote ntiquity: No Late Antique aintings ow greet he visitor whocasually ooks around he White Monastery hurch.Nevertheless, he careful xamination f the walls f thechurch ndertaken rimarily y Pyke, ith assistancefrom Blanke, heehan, eurice, nd Bolman, hows hatthe church was painted t east wice n Late Antiquity.Pyke dentified wo painted laster kims ating o thisearly eriod, with an ndication f additional hases fwork n the ongitudinal oom unning along he southside of the church, hich we have alled he great all.Pyke's ainstaking xamination f the characteristicsof plaster nd skim enderings, nd heir elationshipto each ther n various arts of the church, rovidethe principal ource f evidence or the chronologypresented ere. The irst phase fpainted ecorationincluded t east lue, ellow nd ed, and survives nseveral f the niches e.g. ave, anctuary nd greathall) and n the architectural culpture raming hem(e.g. ilasters n the Baptistery). n he western allof the narthex nd n the corridor o the north of the eastern pse, yke bserved emnants f a reatmentvery similar o that ound n the omb chapel ntrancecorridor escribed bove. he wall appears o havebeen eft with much of the white of the plaster kimshowing, nto which were pplied hin horizontal nd vertical lack ines, reating he llusion f dressedwhite stone ourses. t may have een he case hat in this irst phase f painting, he coiored ecorationwas oncentrated n he egion f the niches, ithmore austere reatments f the other areas f wall. Presumably ll of the stone culptures f the nicheheads nd cornices, nd emnants fwood werepainted n this irst phase, ut he only evidence eobserved f t is n two niches hich are now accessibleonly via he oof. As described elow, hese wo niches were srcinally art of the nterior decoration f thesanctuary.Yellow, ale ed and black, and more are bluepigments ere applied o the second ate Antique plaster ayer. n the eastern pse, races ftwodecorated hases ith discernible atterns avesurvived. he earliest fthese onsists ftrapezoidaldepressions, erhaps illed nitially with carved ndpainted ood. At some oint, till n the Late Antique B AR[[ BuLLrrrtl UMSER 92 FrLL-Wrtlrun 007
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