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Based on stylistic comparisons such as striations inside body contours and the presentation of horns in twisted perspective, several Paleolithic art experts, including the first curator of the Chauvet Cave, Jean Clottes, have accredited the Portuguese friezes to the early Solutrean of about 20,000 years ago3. In Portugal, the government did the opposite a€“ plunging ahead with a project destined to destroy the nationa€™s oldest cultural heritage by completing a 300-million-dollar dam whose reservoir will flood a valley packed with dozens of art sites spread over at least 17 kilometers.
Yet construction continues - even on holidays - and the water is about to rise another hundred meters.
A male ibex with his head shown in two positions, as if he were turning to watch the female behind him. As we drove up to a sentry box perched on the lip of a road into the vast, unnatural gashing of mountains at Foz CA?a, it was hard to tell if the young guard blocking us in a crisp red and gray uniform represented a well-heeled security service or an elite military unit - but it was plain that bluff and sweet talk wouldn't get us far.
The next time the car eased over the knuckles of a road crisscrossed by up-ended strata, past empty huts built just of stacked slabs, and jostled between overhanging and plunging cliffs until an avalanche of tailings from an old quarry almost blocked the path. Here was one of the places of grandeur where our ancestors had first grasped visions and then concretized them by hewing - and sometimes painting - images into rock panels. As I pushed forward and the river grew shallower, turtles became so numerous that their stacks toppled like circus acts from the brinks of submerged cliffs. As a draftsman, I could feel empathy for the beast flowing into the hands that had etched her.
This first frieze stood at a fitting point, practically where the reservoir yielded to the original rapids and long pools of the virgin river. Far away across the moonscape of rutted ramps, knots of men stood before tunnels as fleets of dump trucks, made so tiny by distance that they only gave away their magnitude by over-sized wheels, eased to the brink of platforms, and added avalanches to tailings. Above us, the titanium-white cleanliness of the cement plant's towers stood in bold contrast to the devastation, like a phalanx of gigantic chess-rooks bunched for the kill.
According to press articles, the dam-builders had recognized him as the true discoverer of Portugal's first reported Paleolithic engravings, at nearby Mazouco, even though the doctoral student's mentor, Professor Vitor Oliviera Jorge, had stolen his thunder.7 They had given Rebanda a job as their obligatory salvage archaeologist when the new doctor somehow couldn't get a position on a faculty.
In return, all he'd had to do was wait till their concrete curtain had gone up and its reservoir had risen into a sea so voluminous and costly that its drainage would have been unthinkable.
My goateed interlocutor smirked as he told me I could try looking for the doctor at the complex built for the previous dam, 15A kilometers downstream. But I'd hit pay dirt: the fact that I might hear Rebanda's mea culpa was more than Ia€™d hoped for.
Sebastian elected to wait outside and embarked on Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth as I knocked at the locked door. Still, I complimented her on her English, sympathized with them for having to put up with this hierarchical bother, and kept spinning innocuous questions, while she kept waiting for me to go.
When Rebanda's secretary came out again, to see if she could get either me a€“ or her boss - to give up as the wait grew embarrassingly long, I asked her what the round silos with tipped roofs on the hills had been used for. But the next time, after they had gotten used to my rounds, I stepped inside and admired a sequence of two eight-foot-tall maps full of pins. Something was wrong: in addition to the constellations of pins extending for 17 kilometers upstream from the construction site, there were dozens downstream, along the reservoir behind the dam just outside!
Finally, so many hours had passed, and she'd informed the doctor so many times that I was still hanging around, that I was forced by the sheer need for new scenery to vary my route, and drifted through empty rooms.
The only thing the reports agreed on was that Rebanda had somehow discovered the flooded portion of Canada do Inferno by the previous autumn22 a€“ asking the EDP to lower the Pocinho reservoir by just 3 meters in November 1994 so he could study the engravings.23 a€?They told me it was too expensive,a€? Rebanda had told the New York Times. So who had shot these photographs, which looked like they had been taken when the sites were dry vegetated hillsides instead of among the muck and bare banks below a fallen waterline? I realized that the photos of the dry sites might have been taken before the Pocinho Dam, which had flooded them, had even been completed a€“ over 12 years before! UNESCO had suggested Clottes, who, in an uncanny convergence of good and bad karma, was taken on a whirlwind tour of the tip of the iceberg at Canada do Inferno, then immediately whisked to a press conference in Vila Nova do Foz CA?a on Dec 16th, 199428 a€“ just two days before the discovery of the Chauvet Cave that catapulted him, as its first interpreter and protector, from the summit of the French archaeological establishment to world fame. But Clottesa€™ judgement was mixed, confirming that the art could be dated on stylistic grounds to the early Solutrean or even late Gravettian of twenty to twenty-four thousand years ago while suggesting that flooding the valley might be the best way of protecting it, since Portugal was ill-equipped to protect such widely dispersed panels from vandals!29 a€?There is no easy solution,a€? he told a reporter. What the press forgot to emphasize with quite as much fervor was the fact that Clottes had prefaced his Solomonic verdict by saying, a€?Whatever happens, the engravings must be preserved and not be damaged.a€? Clottes might have felt that he could safely pass the buck because no art conservationist could honestly guarantee the engravingsa€™ fate once they were subjected to currents carrying abrasives, burial under the petrifying alluvia that accumulates behind dams,33 and the worlda€™s most destructive solvent a€“ water, which would dissolve pigments and destabilize rock that had proven its resistance to aerial conditions over tens of millennia. While chatting up the gaunt fellow traveller at the construction site, Ia€™d pretended to make small talk by asking engineering questions, including one about the depth of the sediment that had accumulated behind the Pocinho dam. The irony of it was that Clottesa€™ efforts to be honest without irritating his hosts had been the spark that the French diplomats had dreaded.
Despite the fact that the great prehistoriana€™s reputation would remain largely intact, and with good reason, in much of the rest of the world,34 the Portuguese intelligentsia began to shun him.
A€ propos of CA?a, two Portuguese rock art researchers, who couldna€™t stomach Clottes after his press conference, ironically echoed him by telling me, confidentially, that flooding the engravings could still be a blessing since it would save them from graffiti and those boogeymen of archaeologistsa€™ dreams, prowling collectors.
My guess is that he was so beleaguered by advisers that he was just trying to get out of an awkward situation as quickly, judiciously and diplomatically as possible.
I mentioned to Rebanda that I had just attended the lecture on Chauvet, that I even had a videotape of it right there in my camera. So it's true, I thought, drowning the site was Rebanda's solution to the problem of ownership of photographic rights. But then, what about Rebanda's self-serving talk of photo credits, not to mention the engravings already submerged by the dam at the doorstep a€“ and his belief that the engravings were doomed to be flooded? Strangely enough, I could again see it being both ways, since the roots of tragedy are self-deception and entwined motives. He must have realized that I was rooting for him to pull himself out of his tailspin, because suddenly he decided. Upon leaving, Sebastian asked to check out the Pocinho dam, so I drove round an interchange into an empty parking lot with planters. As the sun slanted over the plateau into the wilderness of the CA?a valley, I decided to sneak into a side-valley to the north of our campsite that Rebanda's map had cluttered with pins. Then, after breaching a wall of rushes, we broke to the reservoir's edge - and were met by a horned skull stuck on a stake.
Suddenly, I remembered what Rebanda had said about the engravings' association with witchcraft.
Being obstinate (or perhaps because of the prehistoric setting), I started whittling stone, knapping a microlithic surgeon's kit, and then bent single-mindedly to my task - failing till I was disgusted with myself and worried for my victim (which I had bizarrely associated with Rebanda). This time there were two guards behind an overhanging military fence crested by barbed wire. The guard who beckoned us in was rearing a guard-dog puppy, which scampered around, tumbling over ledges and using its chin to lever itself over steps. Our guide was a decent young man who couldn't help feeling uneasy blocking access to these bold masterpieces at the source of all our arts. Still, these guards were actually tame as the locals poured down to catch a glimpse of the animals through the fence.
After he'd hastened to take up his time-clock again, I wandered if there might not be even more testimonials of man's attraction to this classical Eden with its islets and fords in the flowery river, and browsed through a plowed orchard, along a contour which I judged would have been the valley floor half a million years ago. We knew the next dawn would be our last, so we broke camp in blue light to explore the teeming side-valley beyond the first auroch. Not Portugal's - OURS - because this art is so old, despite its elegance, that we share the blood and genius of those distant ancestors who awoke to the universe, whether our cavalcade of ancestors migrated around the Old World or came across the Bering Straits 14,000 years ago. Footnotes have been added to the internet version of the article to provide historical perspective and more detail about sources than the versions that were published & distributed in 1995. 1 The three discoverers of the Chauvet Cave were Eliette Brunel Deschamps, Christian Hillaire, and Jean-Marie Chauvet. 2 The IPPAR announced the existence of the valleya€™s engravings on November 19, 1994 but a video was made of them in 1993. 10 Bahn 1995 for a re-capitulation of the same accusations against the IPPAR & Rebanda. 33 Bednarik & Jaffe have been the most outspoken spokesmen about delusions concerning the protective qualities of reservoirs a€“ which not only inundate art panels with water but deep alluvial deposits that make their later recovery dangerous and impractical.
34 Interestingly, a few years after this appeal was written, Clottes came under fierce attack and even ridicule by many representatives of the French intelligentsia, including some of the countrya€™s most prominent prehistorians, after he and David Lewis-Williams published a€?The Shamans of Prehistory: Trance and magic in the painted cavesa€? in 1996. As soon as their results indicating that the art might be only 3,000 to 6,500 years old (if not even younger) were announced a€“ which actually made the engravings even more astonishing, potentially rewriting the history of rock art or even making Portugal the last bastion of the Paleolithic tradition a€“ the most important Portuguese right-wing weekly screamed that the direct-dating results proved that stylistic daters like Clottes had perpetrated a a€?FRAUDa€? (O Independente, 7 July 1995). It should also be noted that the individuals who participated in the debate were often somewhat unwittingly drawn into playing secondary or tertiary roles in a struggle between the Portuguese Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Industry. 40 In November 1995 - six months after this call-toa€“arms was published and circulated to Prehistoric Art Emergencya€™s volunteers (who Ia€™m glad to report included a young actor, Yann Montelle, who went on to earn a doctorate in prehistory) - a book edited by Jorge called a€?Dossier CA?aa€? appeared with 20 contributions by him or his wife. 44 After writing this article in May 1995, it occurred to me that I might have missed one of the main reasons for eliminating Rebanda from Portugala€™s archaeological milieu a€“ the fact that he was so effective at finding rock art that drew international attention, first to Mazouco, then to CA?a.
49 When I wrote the article, I assumed that the two young men were Rebandaa€™s subordinates and referred to them as a€?draftsmena€?. 50 After initially denigrating both the art and the idea of extracting it, the EDP later adopted the idea as one of its three strategies for overcoming opposition to the dam project. Not only were frescoes of rhinos, horses and lions over 30,000 years old found in a cave in the Ardeche on Dec. Although theya€™re probably right, ita€™s worth noting that these same specialists used similar criteria to ascribe the animals of Chauvet to the same period - until carbon 14 results pushed their age back over 10,000 years, shattering the notion that prehistoric art had evolved linearly, like technologies.
In France, the Ministry of Culture placed its new treasure under the most draconian protection, despite the fact that the country already has the lion's share of Paleolithic art.
Standing right in front of some of the most spectacular engravings, the Secretary of State for Culture dismissed them as being nothing more than a€?childrena€™s doodlesa€? a€“ whereupon the students from Foz CA?aa€™s high school turned the official into a laughing-stock by presenting him with a schist slab covered with their own scribblings4.
It's now or never, the author of the following article decided in April 1995, as he set out to evaluate the engravings, find out the truth, and propose solutions.
My 13-year old son and I had flown to Porto in Portugal and driven far up the Douro valley into the northeastern mountains, prepared to maneuver around obstructions whether by negotiation or hiking through the back door.
Still, here was our first encounter with the powers that be, so I took this opportunity to probe, and get a first step up the hierarchical ladder.
So I explained how Sebastian and I had come so far to see the Paleolithic glories that Portugal would be displaying with pride, spoke of credentials, and placed us (and our pen) in his hands. Still, we had our bearings, and drove off into the late afternoon to penetrate the heart of the forbidden zone.
We were getting closer, very close now, and could spy loops of a trail among the folds of a distant ridge. And here too was the arena where one of the greatest feuds between discoverers and custodians of the past had exploded since the conflict between Othniel Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope over the fossils of extinct giants in Sioux territory during Custer's battles. With swifts swirling in up-drafts around our heads, we scrambled and picked our way among sheer precipices and ledges. Its tight horseshoe of cliffs and rubble made the perfect hiding place for our car and tent from the gray guards roaming the surrounding crests with binoculars. Sebastian snuggled tighter into his sleeping bag, so I set out to reconnoiter alone, systematically working quadrants and contours between our quarry at Fariseu and Piscos brook. Somewhere among the jumble of a thousand rock faces would be an ancient image - perhaps masked by lichen or so faint one had to trace its parts before seeing it whole.
The numbed waters suddenly spangled upstream with glitter and so many flowery white tresses of water plants that the currents looked like sudsy pastures. After all the noisy demonstrations against the dam in Lisbon, how were they to know how much clout a nosy prehistorian might have?
Whatever was going to happen to him afterwards in the backwater of Portuguese archaeology had surely been inconsequential, since experience proved that nobody made much fuss over sites that were out-of-sight and out-of-mind - especially with archaeologists beholding to dam-builders and political appointees for access and records.
According to the insinuations, he could have continued his documentation right up to the headwaters as his masters worked their way upstream step by step. I sensed that this crowd felt their doctor deserved to be the one to tell fellow archaeologists that they might as well ask to visit Atlantis. Sure enough, there was the 12 year-old Pocinho dam sweeping the valley with a clean curtain.14 But the silos of this former construction site's cement plant were speckled with rust, the ranks of its offices and dormitories were deserted and almost every window was broken. Fortunately, Sebastian was becoming ever more engrossed in Verne's book, spelunking towards the planet's core, so I began to gravitate down halls for exercise and companionship, coming to the door of the room where the secretary was braiding the blind's cord while two laconic draftsmen labored over tracings of horses, ibexes and aurochs. It has been insinuated that Rebanda probably discovered Rock 1 at Canada do Inferno as early as November 1991.18 In Dec. So, quixotically, he had proposed building a dry-dock around the outcropping, and, failing that, underwater exploration.
If so, the power utility may have known of incredibly rich sites years before the first blueprint for the new dam! Clottes was the worlda€™s reigning prehistorian a€“ the man who had risen to the pinnacle of the French archaeological establishment and held the only keys to the holy grail of art caves - the unbelievably strong and ancient Grotte Chauvet. After inspecting the 15% of the art that remained above water at the site in the rising dama€™s shadow, because the EDP had hardly felt it necessary to lower the water for the visit of the foreigner sent by the now antagonistic IPPAR, Clottes stepped before a highly polarized press corps. The dam-builders and their government backers felt vindicated while much of Portuguese public was crestfallen or furious.
The dam had become a poisonous political issue in a national election with the President and his fellow Socialists attacking the center-right Prime Minister for its willingness to sacrifice both the nationa€™s patrimony and vineyards to a flaky building scheme. As if the owners of villas built around the new lake would really allow it to be drained 100 meters to its bottom - where almost all of the known panels would soon be drowned a€“ once every decade! Suddenly, the Portuguese public felt that the dam-builders were not only destroying the nationa€™s most ancient claim to world grandeur and civilization, but that they were in league with a man who would never have been so cavalier with Paleolithic masterpieces in his own country! When I later asked Portuguese archaeologists if they were going to attend an up-coming conference organized by Clottes, they recoiled.
First, because Clottesa€™ retinue of hosts, diplomats and reporters was rushing him and putting him in a bind a€“ even if his stature, pride, and role as UNESCOa€™s expert on rock art had led him into it. They even echoed his faith in getting dam operators to regularly empty the vast lake a€“ despite the glaring evidence of the EDPa€™s behavior at CA?a itself. No sooner had Clottes triggered a public outcry, than he began to explain away his tepid defense of the CA?aa€™s importance by saying that he had not been shown enough art to form a true idea of the valleya€™s richness.35 But the truth is, he was shown Rebandaa€™s trove of drawings from submerged sections and sites upstream36 and could have been more demanding. After all it was a lot of money, the government was inflexible, the controversy had become a campaign issue a€“ which meant that his advice would seem like foreign meddling - and the elections were still far off. When, in fact, the long-term rights for the cave in France would belong to its Ministry of Culture a€“ which was already attacking its discoverer, Chauvet, for the pittance hea€™d received for his pictures. But I could hardly hold my tongue: why on earth had he invited people from this caste of academics back into his life - and the valley - when at least one of them had apparently abused him? The picture was compelling: SimAµes and her husband angelically insisting that the world must be told, while the hireling screamed demonically over the fire, accusing university archaeologists of trying to hog the credit yet again. If Rebanda had known SimAµes and Jaffe were going to paint him into a corner, wouldn't he have raced for the exit?
Both Rebanda and SimAµes de Abreu could have been traitors and saviors at once, and as long as I was with this archaeologist, I felt bound to encourage the savior in him. It must have seemed like an insult to him after all his efforts, so with an anarchic gesture, he announced, what the hell, he'd photocopy their fax when it came, so we could enter a second. Huge black derricks hulked atop the dam beside a row of gate-lifting pistons that looked like Big Berthas. We bagged the warning or omen, caught and released a giant water beetle - the kind that injects deliquescing enzymes into living frogs, then sucks out their juice - and worked our way along what was actually the upper tier of a disappearing cliff. When art panels are located in the CA?aa€™s side valleys, they are apparently concentrated on northern slopes.
I was a willing guide as we skewered corn kernels on hooks, lashed lines around a log and threw the lethal leashes into the dark. They were a hundred yards apart, making perpetual rounds as they kept time clocks happy by cranking them every few paces with keys chained to the fence. It was probably his first job after military service, but he was intelligent enough to realize that hea€™d been hired as a pawn in a vast conspiracy to keep Portugal's greatest cultural wonders out of sight and out of mind, till they could be obliterated. One, because any plan to remove the friezes not only meant assigning a value to them, but keeping the controversy alive.
The mountainous dirt road forked, meandered and even skirted an imposing castle,51 but several classes of children were making the long dusty pilgrimage on foot while carloads of adults in their Sunday best made the excursion to see the only engravings to have escaped the censors - either because the site at Penascosa was so far from Lima Montiero's spyglass or because the valley was gentler here and had always been farmed.
I hadn't passed the first olive tree when I happened upon a well-knapped hand-axe, and then another!
On-line commentary entitled a€?Some corrections about the CA?a petroglyphsa€? in TRACCE no. While Chauveta€™s name was given to the cave itself, the names of his co-discoverers were given to two of its large chambers.
Mila SimAµes de Abreu and Ludwig Jaffe were the founders of the APAAR (AssociaA§ao Portuguesa de Arte e Arqueologia Rupestre), which has been a member of IFRAO (International Federation of Rock Art Organisations) since Sept.
In an on-line commentary, Jaffe denounced what he perceived as a continuation of the scandal under new management: a€?In December 1994 IPPAR passed the responsibility for the rock art in the Coa valley to Mario Varela Gomes and Antonio Martinho Baptista.
Their critics often subscribe to the doctrine that modern ethnographic evidence cannot be used to interpret ancient cultures. Although Bednarik was one of the earliest crusaders for CA?a - calling for the EDP to stop building the dam in Nov. The leftist press and Portuguese archaeological milieu reacted with just as much reflection, ignoring both Bednarika€™s qualifiers and his pioneering role in organizing the world campaign to fight for the whole valleya€™s salvation (see Dossier CA?a p.
Of the 66 contributions written by individuals, not one is by Nelson Rebanda, whose ghost a€“ to anyone interested in intellectual property a€“ haunts every line.
After the CA?a scandal served its purpose as an electoral issue that helped the Socialists to win power, the new government kept its campaign promise by protecting the CA?a Valley but used the goodwill engendered by the decision to blunt criticism while flooding other huge assemblages of rock art. 3; Catherine Vincent, writing in Le Monde on March 11, 1995, goes into much more detail about one particular vineyard, Ervamoira, that would have been lost, along with its exceptional Port wine. The first was to prove that the engravings were not Paleolithic a€“ an effort that entrapped researchers who wanted to apply experimental direct-dating techniques. One of the first priorities of the work was a complete examination of all previous exploration and excavation in the precinct, particularly that of Margaret Benson carried out in 1895-7.
18th1, but Europea€™s biggest open-air gallery of Paleolithic animals was reported just a month earlier in the CA?a Valley of northeastern Portugal2.
Regardless of how old the CA?aa€™s art turns out to be, it is unique in its richness above ground and astonishing in its illustrations of movement - with animals tossing their heads with the same stop-action dynamism found at Chauvet and only millennia later in photography and Futurist painting.
The Chauvet Cavea€™s prehistoric bestiary was proudly splashed across magazines around the world. Soon, the guard turned into a regular lad, wrote down the chief engineer's name and pointed beyond the ramp-laced moonscape - into the wilderness. In this walled garden, the conflicting passions of archaeologists had exploded around a campfire, set a president and prime minister against each other, and cowed the emissaries of UNESCO. Lizards skidded into fissures, a rusty blade wedged in a nook beside a sliver of cliff garden spoke of an emigrant who had never returned, but the walls seemed barren. Over and over again, the scene seemed set, the rock stretched, but its lines were just fractals. I yanked myself up to a platform less than a step wide and a ten-foot long cow - an auroch! By holding the animal's form and movement vividly in mind, the maker had poured himself into its body and experienced a power beyond abstraction, beyond even tool-making, to thrill to the new power of passing through the looking-glass into another being. A stream, running pure as its springs over crisp cresses between alternating bull rushes and crags, almost made it to the river unaltered, but met it just below the threshold and sank into an estuary. We had arrived at Pandemonium and would try to insinuate ourselves into an audience with the Chief Engineer himself. Only one was so spotless and redolent of perks, though, with its rolled lawn incongruous in the desert, that we knew right where to head among forking roads.
I was hardly surprised when these well-fed pros passed the buck to the only gaunt and partially toothless fellow traveler among them. So they decided to play it safe by dumping me on their pet nemesis, the organizationa€™s own archaeological a€?hirelinga€?, Dr. He could have added to his hoard of exclusive photos and measurements, imposed interpretations, and generally lorded it over his peers - for who could have naysayed him with his treasures locked a hundred meters deep in so many great watery safes?10 And to think that all the dam-builders' pet archaeologist and his accommodating superiors at the Portuguese Institute for Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IPPAR)11 in Lisbon - to whom Rebanda had reported his discoveries at least twice12 - had had to do to pull off this economically patriotic (not to say mutually beneficial) stunt was keep their mouths shut! After having suffered at the hands of his mentor, Professor Jorge, why had Rebanda put himself at the mercy of two similar academics and representatives of an international body to boot - Mila SimAµes de Abreu and her archaeologist husband, Ludwig Jaffe, who represented the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO)? At least such nuisances would keep him from getting up to more mischief by turning up new discoveries. But, finally, a secretary answered my summons and let me into a vestibule empty except for a display of postcard-sized photographs of some of the engravings, and a cartoon caricaturing the scandal - which I reckoned had been knowingly posted to co-opt criticism.


I couldn't quite make out the man's features through the crack, but it was obvious he was gushing recriminations - and no wonder: the entire archaeological profession had ganged up on the pariah.
We all knew I had crossed a threshold, but, after all, I had paid my dues, and in any case, I padded off to the foyer again. Yet they'd prattled to the press that they had found the art a year ago, and then more like two years ago, and now, word had it, a€?onlya€? three years ago25 - when it was always somehow too late to stop the process leading up to construction, which had only started in September a€™94.26 The gall! Instantly, I whipped out paper and scribbled the fastest copy of the main map that my hand could draw. After SimAµes de Abreu and Jaffe had unleashed the scandal by revealing the conspiracy to flood Europea€™s richest assemblage of open-air Paleolithic art, the IPPAR and Portuguese Ministry of Culture had scrambled to get their own expert witness a€“ and, in a further twist, had asked UNESCO to recommend an expert to challenge the power companya€™s growing efforts to prove the art wasna€™t Paleolithic but recent27 a€“ in which case, the EDP seemed to think that the public would drop the subject as being the relatively recent work of peasants drawing their cows.
For all their heightened sensitivity to having CA?aa€™s fate evaluated by a foreigner, the Portuguese press viewed Clottes as a referee and expected a verdict. Then, as fate would have it, Clottes was back in the headlines within the week, announcing drastic measures to protect Francea€™s new crown jewel, Chauvet. And as if anyone could even find new art during the two weeks a lake might be emptied (every hundred years) while everything was coated with algae and grime! Opposition editorialists had a field day with Clottesa€™ apparent hypocrisy and dismissiveness towards Portugal - and demonstrators flooded the streets.
Two, because people are often driven to produce their greatest work and worst mistakes by similar drives. Rebanda was even fooling himself on this score, I thought - after all, the Foz CA?a photographs would probably end up belonging to Portugala€™s own ministry or even the EDP.
Scientists - like lawyers - ply an adversarial trade, but the chance to put Portugal into the archaeological heavens a€“ and to boost their own reputations with it - had given many researchers more ulterior motives than usual.
Personally, I couldn't see anybody bedding down for the night and traipsing out the next morning with people who had announced that they were going to expose him.
In essence, my heart a€“ if not my mind - had taken his side for the moment; he was the underdog, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and I was concerned that he might even attempt suicide. If I didn't mind coming back at 9 the next morning, he apologized, the approval should be there.
But basically the dam was a streamlined machine without much need for local intervention or maintenance.
My unequivocal certification of their global importance only made him uneasier, as he didn't know whether to feel flattered or upset.
We peered into a dovecot, a squat white tower lined inside with empty compartments like a city after a plague.
Suddenly, a deeply hammered auroch on the rock stood out boldly as a road sign - alerting us to an entire herd. The geology, erosion, & silica skins protecting engravings all seem similar on both slopes, so I theorize that this positioning is not simply a taphonomic illusion created by the disappearance of engravings on the southern slopes. I wasn't expecting anything when I ambled down at dawn, but there it was: a big mound under the bank! From what I could tell, even his draftsmen had decided to take the day off 49, once they realized the coast was clear. By God, I thought, if the flooders don't save them, I hope the townspeople storm the valley! If the guards hadn't been under strict orders not to sell admissions, they'd have made a killing; but then any financial association with the art is anathema to the dammers: the next thing they knew, they'd have a revolt on their hands! And like the first guard, when he realized that I had somehow gotten authorization despite my evident opposition to the reservoir, he let out his pent-up indignation - for we were insiders. As we passed the threshold between the deadened depths and virgin current with its billowing water-foliage, we had to skirt and climb over a sheer wall blocking the side-valleya€™s entrance. The intertwined couple, spanning the length of a single real horse, was still necking in Eden after twenty millennia. Rock Art and the CA?a Valley Archaeological Park: A case study in the preservation of Portugal's prehistoric parietal heritage. Although it is true that one must be extremely circumspect about doing so, such evidence often opens new perspectives that have more in common with the subsistence systems of ancient cultures than does our own, and the two authors showed considerable originality and courage in exploring it.
1994 - most Portuguese archaeologists with access to the CA?a sites now shun him as thoroughly as they do Clottes and Rebanda. 539, for a resolution, written in defense of CA?a, by Bednarik, in a book filled with vitriole against him). These retractions confirmed that some of ZilhA?oa€™s criticisms of the direct dating attempts were well founded, but dona€™t necessarily reflect on other matters raised in his disputes with Bednarik and Jaffe. In the English sections, Jorge generously credits numerous associates and generations of Portuguese prehistorians by full name, while studiously avoiding any mention of Rebanda except where it is unavoidable, and then only with his last name between brackets. The second was to make casts of panels for a museum a€“ which may have damaged some panels. While the paintings in the French cave, which became known as the Grotte Chauvet, often have engraved contours, the Portuguese menagerie may also have been painted, but, being outdoors, their pigments have usually weathered away.
As shadows welled from the valley, we turned from the scarps and trundled downwards into the cleavage, till the road turned into a path to the water through a profusion of poppies. Finally, I discerned a flock ambling down through dry brush, then a shirt flashed a white dot, and we converged within hailing distance on opposite banks. Even ideal panels on either side of a fig tree bulging titanically from a small cave were barren. A stand of poplar trees crackled like Chinese New Year with small birds, abundant as leaves. It was a good thing we had his name, Lima Monteiro, because the Securitas guard on this side meant business. Our compact car slid in among Mercedes and I stepped into glare, drawing cool stares from fleshy faces. My interlocutor explained that the Chief Engineer was powerless to help me, so he couldn't be bothered to give me an audience.
Of course, the stories went, the honorable witnesses had refused to become accomplices and had immediately denounced the whole plot a€“ writing open letters to the Portuguese President, Vice President and Director of IPPAR - with carbon copies for the press.13 If only his employers had known that Rebanda was so naive!
She announced that it was no use disturbing the doctor, who I could see through a jarred door talking to someone over the phone with peevish vehemence. Finally, I suggested that she didn't need to keep me company while I waited for the good doctor to get off the phone. That's strange, I thought as I wandered off again, mulling over a mental photograph of the site distribution. And here were others, even closer to the construction site, at "RA?go de Vide", which had been submerged by the same old dam! Still, she caught me; whereupon I went on elaborating it, asking questions, and then padded back to the foyer again to continue my vigil. After all, the archaeologists and reporters had allowed the Tagus petrogylphs to be drowned with hardly a whimper. Not only did the contrast with his actions in Portugal now smack of a double standard, but there was a piquant irony.
With stakes this high, both parties unleashed their opinion-making machines, making hash of Clottesa€™ carefully weighed words as quickly as theya€™d vilified Rebanda.
Clottesa€™ words may have been earnest, but with stakes this high and politicized they were about as reasonable as Pontius Pilatea€™s attempts to keep the peace. I prefer to think the latter, and that his only mistake was thinking that people on both sides were lucid and reflective enough to interpret his verdict correctly. In Rebanda's place, I'd have calmed down and let the traitors fall to sleep, but then I'd have snuck away - trekking fast through the dark, picking myself up when I fell, but getting out - bloody knees and all - and calling that alarm first! Furthermore, I had no doubt - whatever pacts he'd struck - that he would make up for them if only approached constructively.
After we'd faxed it, I was sorry to see him having to still recall and refax, as he nudged the request repeatedly through the unyielding bureaucracy. Sebastian and I scrambled and tacked among the carious cliffs, till there was nothing left but rock overhanging the water itself. But a huge horse, leaning over the depths, was both more graceful and cryptic, for someone had wedged a rusty horseshoe into a crack between its hooves. No sooner had I chipped the thin device and steadily shoved each curve straight, than the hook slipped smoothly free. Only Rebanda's long-suffering secretary had to keep her post and occupied herself by taking up the relay of calling and faxing.
These red and gray devices were not only customized to match the guards' uniforms, but showed off the latest in high-tech materials and molding. As we wound our way down towards the reservoir among towering red cliffs, he took quiet pride in pointing out the hidden elements of scattered engravings. But then Piscos Brook ran between trees, pastures and cane-groves, with cliffs full of shelters and stone panels at each bend.
La Pintura, The Official Newsletter of the American Rock Art Research Association (Member of IFRAO) Volume 21, Number 3, Winter.
In the same book, which Jorge compiled to record the campaign he was spear-heading to save CA?a a€“ a laudatory effort, if there ever was one, that made Jorge synonymous with yet another of Rebandaa€™s finds - Bednarik is repeatedly dismissed as a a€?charlatana€? (pp. Jaffe accused the trio, who had taken over responsibility for the archaeological resources of the valley, of endangering art panels and refusing to allow qualified foreign researchers or even Dr. Whatever the case may be, the problem of rock art conservation is still as far from resolution in Portugal as it is in most other places in the world. A thirty year old semi-invalid of a distinguished English family, she had the rare good luck to ask for the concession to a site that seemed unimportant and a site that no one else wanted.
All that remains, where jagged outcroppings of schist jut from brushy slopes - exposing terminal facets perfect for murals - are hauntingly sinuous outlines of deer, horses, ibexes, and wild cattle called aurochs.
The first flurry of press articles had mentioned that many of the engravings were already submerged by the cofferdam holding the river back for the more monstrous wall rising downstream from it. I sent greetings and the shepherd expostulated and gestured animatedly upstream towards towering slabs.
For me, all of mankind's later accomplishments, all our later experience of good and evil only become possible after such art. The irrelevant exchange had sparked sympathy as we both waited - and waited, in similar irrelevance to someone too consumed to give us heed.
I would have to go to Lisbon, and no, it wouldn't do any good for him to fax; he didn't have an iota of authority.
Despite all the insinuations about Rebanda and IPPAR, they were actually the first to try blocking the philistines with the clout of an institution as important as UNESCO. About thirty years before, Francea€™s equivalent to the EDP had taken the entire Ardeche Gorge, where the Chauvet Cave had just been found, from its entrance at Sauze to a rainbow-huge, natural arch - Vallon Pont da€™Arc, next to Chauvet - by eminent domain, to build a dam.
These conscientious people know that theya€™re barely tolerated by the forces of Mammon - scraping crumbs from the tables of vast enterprises armed with dynamite and bulldozers - and make compacts all the time with them, telling themselves, for instance, that the alluvial strata that cement plants exploit are always too tumbled to contain intact Acheulian hearths. If only he'd announced the discovery, co-opted his employers, and splashed masterpieces across magazine covers while the art's existence was still fresh, he might have won honor, fame, a very small fortune (and maybe even kept his job). Within weeks, local academics had begun signing their names to Rebandaa€™s discoveries, tracings, and interpretations while forgetting to cite him. I'd have been the one to announce the existence of the largest gathering of open-air Paleolithic engravings in Europe to the world.
Slate slabs, thoughtfully laid into a wall as steps, led down through a canopy of fig trees into a cavernous wallow between cliffs.
I woke Sebastian in time to see the beast lumber over the bank and glide away, and then it was high time we checked out our other line at the doctor's office. Noon passed as we still waited together like an old couple, talking about the doctor's misery, Australian rock art, translations; whatever. The guards stiffened as Sebastian and I had the gumption to breach a forbidden zone and stride blithely forward.
There were so many warblers piping and whistling, there must have been a dozen species with overlapping territories.
Botha€? - Baptista and Gomes a€“ a€?were closely involved in the rationale to submerge the rock art (to 'protect it from vandals'); in fact, on 8 November Baptista spoke of how sedimentation behind dams should protect rock arta€? - my italics.
After our departure, Bednarik and three other researchers (Alan Watchman from Canada, plus Fred Phillips and Ronald Dorn from the USA), who believed that they had found ways to date rock art directly, studied some of the CA?aa€™s engravings during separate visits. 1995 that was led by Mounir Bouchenaki, the IPPAR formed a scientific committee consisting of Antonio BeltrA?n, Emmanuel Anati and Jean Clottes, who came back for a second round. It was assumed that even an woman amateur with no experience could do little harm at the nearly destroyed Temple of Mut, in a remote location south of the Amun precinct at Karnak.
And so, forgive me, but in comparison to these ancient windows, cathedrals seem to have anti-climatic and overwrought power. Except for the absence now of bigger species, this was how Solutreans had experienced the world - with whistling, mooing, barking, roaring and trumpeting not just on the Serengeti, but to the frozen north! So much will go unrecorded because of all this fuss.a€? a€“ So, Rebanda is resigned to the inevitability of the flooding, I thought. If the dam had been built, a dozen known art caves would have been flooded or affected by rising water tables. So rather than condemn Clottes, perhaps the Portuguese should simply admit his diplomacy opened the debate, even if one might wish that hea€™d been a crusader. From Chauveta€™s pinnacle, its gatekeeper was probably right to dismiss the scratchings, which I too thought could have been the kneading of bears, but the contrast between the levels of encouragement was striking. Although they granted him the discovery of Hella€™s Canyon (in footnotes), other sites that Rebanda had already noted were soon claimed by competitors as Rebanda was effectively silenced.
And Vitor and his wife, Susanaa€? - was it my imagination or did her name stick in his craw? Their stingy hypocrisy and philistinism revolted me: they wouldn't spend a penny on protecting such discoveries, but they'd drown the world up to its headwaters to keep driving Mercedes. Goldfinches sparked into the air, a crested hoopoo flashed orange and black, and the shaggy canes were a tumult of avian chatter.
Jaffe was also the IFRAO representative of the SocietA  Cooperativa Archaeologica, Le Orme della€™Uomo, Italy (Bednarik 1994). But not before signing controversial non-disclosure agreements with the EDP, which was hoping that their techniques would yield dates so recent that they could be used to ridicule stylistic daters who had identified the engravings as Paleolithic (Baptista & Fernandes 2007, p. She worked there for only three seasons from 1895 to 1897 and she published The Temple of Mut in Asher in 1899 2 with Janet Gourlay, who joined her in the second season. Intermittent splashes smacked echoes off the walls, a frog croaked and some beast keened a cry we had never heard. When I asked if they could intercede on our behalf, she said one had to apply in person, in Lisbon, and have connections.
In fact, paw prints indicated that we had missed cornering another feral dog or fox in its lair.
Surgically, it was a nightmare: I'd have to pry its head out, keep its neck extended, wedge open its powerful beak and finally thrust the treble barbs down its throat, so as to carefully extract their burr, without snagging them again! Finally, they agreed that one of them would walk parallel to us, down the fence-line, to let us in the distant gate. At our feet, frogs skipped like pebbles and painted turtles rowed earnestly in tangled water blossoms - all for the taking.
Unless you and I and all of us together add our voices to those of the Portuguese citizenry trekking down for a last look, and reclaim what is OURS!
The story of the denunciation is from Bednarik (1994) and Simons in the New York Times (1994). In the introduction to that publication of her work she emphasized that it was the first time any woman had been given permission by the Egyptian Department of Antiquities to excavate; she was well aware that it was something of an accomplishment.
Even the Chauvet Cave, which was unknown, might have been threatened by the changing water table!
Unfortunately, Bednarik, who is one of the worlda€™s most encyclopedically informed, accomplished, and bold prehistorians, walked right into the trap. Jorgea€™s utter dismissal of Bednarik was clearly motivated by the lattera€™s implicit condemnation of the way that Jorge had appropriated Rebandaa€™s earlier discovery at Mazouco, instigating Rebandaa€™s secrecy that was one component of the CA?a a€?cover-upa€? (Bednarik 1994, p.
Later, Bednarik spear-headed another campaign to save a Portuguese rock-art assemblage from inundation a€“ this time behind a dam in the Guadiana Valley - and noted that a€?None of this helps the rock art of the Guadiana, condemned to inundation under billions of tonnes of lake sediment as the reservoir silts up over the next 70 yearsa€? a€“ again, my italics. Do you think I'm such a fool as to invite the man who deprived me of the credit for my first discovery, to come see my greatest wonders if it wasn't because I needed all the allies I could get; if it wasn't because I even needed the universities to help save them. Ironically, the mandarin in Porto would come out smelling like roses for his campaign while the roles of several well-meaning prehistorians, if I may insist upon the word, were simplified so as to make them better scapegoats. We were frankly warned that we should make no discoveries; indeed if any had been anticipated, it was unlikely that the clearance would have been entrusted to inexperienced direction. First, because his dating system, which was based on determining the degree of micro-erosion undergone by a rock face, had been developed in Australia, where climate and geological conditions are different from Portugala€™s. 3 A Margaret Benson was born June 16, 1865, one of the six children of Edward White Benson. He was first an assistant master at Rugby, then the first headmaster of the newly founded Wellington College.He rose in the service of the church as Chancellor of the diocese of Lincoln, Bishop of Truro and, finally, Archbishop of Canterbury.
This odd statement flies in the face of Bednarika€™s consistent defense of both the CA?aa€™s art and other assemblages, suggesting that it was a ploy to get the EDP to allow them to test their methods. Even though both men concluded that their observations proved that the art was no older than the Neolithic, Bednarik did not repeat the notion, when announcing his results, that a relatively recent vintage diminished the arta€™s importance or the need to protect it a€“ quite the contrary.
Benson was a learned man with a wide knowledge of history and a serious concern for the education of the young. He was also something of a poet and one of his hymns is still included in the American Episcopal Hymnal. Arthur Christopher, the eldest, was first a master at Eton and then at Magdalen College, Cambridge.
A noted author and poet with an enormous literary output, he published over fifty books, most of an inspirational nature, but he was also the author of monographs on D.
He helped to edit the correspondence of Queen Victoria for publication, contributed poetry to The Yellow Book, and wrote the words to the anthem "Land of Hope and Glory". Most important to the study of the excavator of the Mut Temple, he was the author of The Life and Letters of Maggie Benson, 4 a sympathetic biography which helps to shed some light on her short archaeological career. He also wrote several reminiscences of his family in which he included his sister and described his involvement in her excavations. He helped to supervise part of the work and he prepared the plan of the temple which was used in her eventual publication.
His younger brother, Robert Hugh Benson, took Holy Orders in the Church of England, later converted to Roman Catholicism and was ordained a priest in that rite. He also achieved some fame as a novelist and poet and rose to the position of Papal Chamberlain.
Her publication of the excavation is cited in every reference to theTemple of Mut in the Egyptological literature, but she is known to history as a name in a footnote and little else.A Margaret Benson was born at Wellington College during her father's tenure as headmaster.
Each career advancement for him meant a move for the family so her childhood was spent in a series of official residences until she went to Oxford in 1883. She was eighteen when she was enrolled at Lady Margaret Hall, a women's college founded only four years before. One of her tutors commented to his sister that he was sorry Margaret had not been able to read for "Greats" in the normal way.
5 When she took a first in the Women's Honours School of Philosophy, he said, "No one will realize how brilliantly she has done." 6 Since her work was not compared to that of her male contemporaries, it would have escaped noticed. In her studies she concentrated on political economy and moral sciences but she was also active in many aspects of the college.
She participated in dramatics, debating and sports but her outstanding talent was for drawing and painting in watercolor.
Her skill was so superior he thought she should be appointed drawing mistress if she remained at Lady Margaret Hall for any length of time. She began a work titled "The Venture of Rational Faith" which occupied her thoughts for many years. From the titles alone they suggest a young woman who was deeply concerned with problems of society and the spirit and this preoccupation with the spiritual was to be one of her concerns throughout the rest of her life. In some of her letters from Egypt it is clear that she was attempting to understand something of the spiritual life of the ancient Egyptians, not a surprising interest for the daughter of a churchman like Edward White Benson.
A In 1885, at the age of twenty, Margaret was taken ill with scarlet fever while at Zermatt in Switzerland.


By the time she was twenty-five she had developed the symptoms of rheumatism and the beginnings of arthritis.
She made her first voyage to Egypt in 1894 because the warm climate was considered to be beneficial for those who suffered from her ailments. Wintering in Egypt was highly recommended at the time for a wide range of illnesses ranging from simple asthma to "mental strain." Lord Carnarvon, Howard Carter's sponsor in the search for the tomb of Tutankhamun, was one of the many who went to Egypt for reasons of health. After Cairo and Giza she went on by stages as far as Aswan and the island temples of Philae. She commented on the "wonderful calm" of the Great Sphinx, the physical beauty of the Nubians, the color of the stone at Philae, the descent of the cataract by boat, which she said was "not at all dangerous".
By the end of January she was established in Luxor with a program of visits to the monuments set out. I don't feel as if I should have really had an idea of Egypt at all if I hadn't stayed here -- the Bas-reliefs of kings in chariots are only now beginning to look individual instead of made on a pattern, and the immensity of the whole thing is beginning to dawn -- and the colours, oh my goodness!
The ancient language and script she found fascinating but she was not as interested in reading classical Arabic.
Her interest was maintained by the variety of animal and bird life for at home in England she had been surrounded by domestic animals and had always been keen on keeping pets.
By the time her first stay ended in March, 1894, she had already resolved to return in the fall.
When Margaret returned to Egypt in November she had already conceived the idea of excavating a site and thus applied to the Egyptian authorities. Edouard Naville, the Swiss Egyptologist who was working at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Dier el Bahri for the Egypt Exploration Fund, wrote to Henri de Morgan, Director of the Department of Antiquities, on her behalf.
From her letters of the time, it is clear that this was one of the most exciting moments of Margaret Benson's life because she was allowed to embark on what she considered a great adventure. A Margaret's physical condition at the beginning of the excavation was of great concern to the family. A Margaret Benson had no particular training to qualify or prepare her for the job but what she lacked in experience she more than made up for with her "enthusiastic personality" and her intellectual curiosity. In the preface to The Temple of Mut in Asher she said that she had no intention of publishing the work because she had been warned that there was little to find. In the introduction to The Temple of Mut in Asher acknowledgments were made and gratitude was offered to a number of people who aided in the work in various ways.
The professional Egyptologists and archaeologists included Naville, Petrie, de Morgan, Brugsch, Borchardt, Daressy, Hogarth and especially Percy Newberry who translated the inscriptions on all of the statues found. Lea), 10 a Colonel Esdaile, 11 and Margaret's brother, Fred, helped in the supervision of the work in one or more seasons. A It is usually assumed that Margaret Benson and Janet Gourlay worked only as amateurs, with little direction and totally inexperienced help. It is clear from the publication that Naville helped to set up the excavation and helped to plan the work. Hogarth 12 gave advice in the direction of the digging and Newberry was singled out for his advice, suggestions and correction as well as "unwearied kindness." Margaret's brother, Fred, helped his inexperienced sister by supervising some of the work as well as making a measured plan of the temple which is reproduced in the publication.
Benson) was qualified to help because he had intended to pursue archaeology as a career, studied Classical Languages and archaeology at Cambridge, and was awarded a scholarship at King's College on the basis of his work. He organized a small excavation at Chester to search for Roman legionary tomb stones built into the town wall and the results of his efforts were noticed favorably by Theodore Mommsen, the great nineteenth century classicist, and by Mr.
Benson went on to excavate at Megalopolis in Greece for the British School at Athens and published the result of his work in the Journal of Hellenic Studies. His first love was Greece and its antiquities and it is probable that concern for his sister's health was a more important reason for him joining the excavation than an interest in the antiquities of Egypt.
13A It is interesting to speculate as to why a Victorian woman was drawn to the Temple of Mut.
The precinct of the goddess who was the consort of Amun, titled "Lady of Heaven", and "Mistress of all the Gods", is a compelling site and was certainly in need of further exploration in Margaret's time. Its isolation and the arrangement with the Temple of Mut enclosed on three sides by its own sacred lake made it seem even more romantic. 14 When she began the excavation three days was considered enough time to "do" the monuments of Luxor and Margaret said that few people could be expected to spend even a half hour at in the Precinct of Mut. A On her first visit to Egypt in 1894 she had gone to see the temple because she had heard about the granite statues with cats' heads (the lion-headed images of Sakhmet).
The donkey-boys knew how to find the temple but it was not considered a "usual excursion" and after her early visits to the site she said that "The temple itself was much destroyed, and the broken walls so far buried, that one could not trace the plan of more than the outer court and a few small chambers". 15 The Precinct of the Goddess Mut is an extensive field of ruins about twenty-two acres in size, of which Margaret had chosen to excavate only the central structure. Connected to the southernmost pylons of the larger Amun Temple of Karnak by an avenue of sphinxes, the Mut precinct contains three major temples and a number of smaller structures in various stages of dilapidation.
She noted some of these details in her initial description of the site, but in three short seasons she was only able to work inside the Mut Temple proper and she cleared little of its exterior.
Serious study of the temple complex was started at least as early as the expedition of Napoleon at the end of the eighteenth century when artists and engineers attached to the military corps measured the ruins and made drawings of some of the statues.
During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the great age of the treasure hunters in Egypt, Giovanni Belzoni carried away many of the lion-headed statues and pieces of sculpture to European museums. Champollion, the decipherer of hieroglyphs, and Karl Lepsius, the pioneer German Egyptologist, both visited the precinct, copied inscriptions and made maps of the remains.16 August Mariette had excavated there and believed that he had exhausted the site. Most of the travelers and scholars who had visited the precinct or carried out work there left some notes or sketches of what they saw and these were useful as references for the new excavation.
Since some of the early sources on the site are quoted in her publication, Margaret was obviously aware of their existence. 17A On her return to Egypt at the end of November, 1894, she stopped at Mena House hotel at Giza and for a short time at Helwan, south of Cairo.
Helwan was known for its sulphur springs and from about 1880 it had become a popular health resort, particularly suited for the treatment of the sorts of maladies from which Margaret suffered.
People at every turn asked if she remembered them and her donkey-boy almost wept to see her.
A "On January 1st, 1895, we began the excavation" -- with a crew composed of four men, sixteen boys (to carry away the earth), an overseer, a night guardian and a water carrier. The largest the work gang would be in the three seasons of excavation was sixteen or seventeen men and eighty boys, still a sizable number. Before the work started Naville came to "interview our overseer and show us how to determine the course of the work".
A A good part of Margaret's time was occupied with learning how to supervise the workmen and the basket boys. Since her spoken Arabic was almost nonexistent, she had to use a donkey-boy as a translator. It would have been helpful if she had had the opportunity to work on an excavation conducted by a professional and profit from the experience but she was eager to learn and had generally good advice at her disposal so she proceeded in an orderly manner and began to clear the temple. On the second of January she wrote to her mother: "I don't think much will be found of little things, only walls, bases of pillars, and possibly Cat-statues. I shall feel rather like --'Massa in the shade would lay While we poor niggers toiled all day' -- for I am to have a responsible overseer, and my chief duty apparently will be paying. 18A She is described as riding out from the Luxor Hotel on donkey-back with bags of piaster pieces jingling for the Saturday payday. She had been warned to pay each man and boy personally rather than through the overseer to reduce the chances of wages disappearing into the hands of intermediaries. The workmen believed that she was at least a princess and they wanted to know if her father lived in the same village as the Queen of England. When they sang their impromptu work songs (as Egyptian workmen still do) they called Margaret the "Princess" and her brother Fred the "Khedive". A PART II: THE EXCAVATIONSA The clearance was begun in the northern, outer, court of the temple where Mariette had certainly worked.
Earth was banked to the north side of the court, against the back of the ruined first pylon but on the south it had been dug out even below the level of the pavement.
Mariette's map is inaccurate in a number of respects suggesting that he was not able to expose enough of the main walls.
At the first (northern) gate it was necessary for Margaret Benson to clear ten or twelve feet of earth to reach the paving stones at the bottom.
In the process they found what were described as fallen roofing blocks, a lion-headed statue lying across and blocking the way, and also a small sandstone head of a hippopotamus. In the clearance of the court the bases of four pairs of columns were found, not five as on Mariette's map.
After working around the west half of the first court and disengaging eight Sakhmet statues in the process, they came on their first important find. Near the west wall of the court, was discovered a block statue of a man named Amenemhet, a royal scribe of the time of Amenhotep II. The statue is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo 19 but Margaret was given a cast of it to take home to England.
When it was discovered she wrote to her father: A My Dearest Papa, We have had such a splendid find at the Temple of Mut that I must write to tell you about it.
We were just going out there on Monday, when we met one of our boys who works there running to tell us that they had found a statue. When we got there they were washing it, and it proved to be a black granite figure about two feet high, knees up to its chin, hands crossed on them, one hand holding a lotus. 20A The government had appointed an overseer who spent his time watching the excavation for just such finds.
He reported it to a sub-inspector who immediately took the block statue away to a store house and locked it up.
He said it was hard that Margaret should not have "la jouissance de la statue que vous avez trouve" and she was allowed to take it to the hotel where she could enjoy it until the end of the season when it would become the property of the museum. The statue had been found on the pavement level, apparently in situ, suggesting to the excavator that this was good evidence for an earlier dating for the temple than was generally believed at the time.
The presence of a statue on the floor of a temple does not necessarily date the temple, but many contemporary Egyptologists might have come to the same conclusion.
One visitor to the site recalled that a party of American tourists were perplexed when Margaret was pointed out to them as the director of the dig.
At that moment she and a friend were sitting on the ground quarreling about who could build the best sand castle. This was probably not the picture of an "important" English Egyptologist that the Americans had expected. A As work was continued in the first court other broken statues of Sakhmet were found as well as two seated sandstone baboons of the time of Ramesses III.
21 The baboons went to the museum in Cairo, a fragment of a limestone stela was eventually consigned to a store house in Luxor and the upper part of a female figure was left in the precinct where it was recently rediscovered. The small objects found in the season of 1895 included a few coins, a terra cotta of a reclining "princess", some beads, Roman pots and broken bits of bronze.
Time was spent repositioning Sakhmet statues which appeared to be out of place based on what was perceived as a pattern for their arrangement.
Even if they were correct they could not be sure that they were reconstructing the original ancient placement of the statues in the temple or some modification of the original design. In the spirit of neatness and attempting to leave the precinct in good order, they also repaired some of the statues with the aid of an Italian plasterer, hired especially for that purpose.
A Margaret was often bed ridden by her illnesses and she was subject to fits of depression as well but she and her brother Fred would while away the evenings playing impromptu parlor games. For a fancy dress ball at the Luxor Hotel she appeared costumed as the goddess Mut, wearing a vulture headdress which Naville praised for its ingenuity. The resources in the souk of Luxor for fancy dress were nonexistent but Margaret was resourceful enough to find material with which to fabricate a costume based, as she said, on "Old Egyptian pictures." A The results of the first season would have been gratifying for any excavator. In a short five weeks the "English Lady" had begun to clear the temple and to note the errors on the older plans available to her. She had started a program of reconstruction with the idea of preserving some of the statues of Sakhmet littering the site.
She had found one statue of great importance and the torso of another which did not seem so significant to her.
Her original intention of digging in a picturesque place where she had been told there was nothing much to be found was beginning to produce unexpected results.A The Benson party arrived in Egypt for the second season early in January of 1896.
After a trip down to, they reached Luxor Aswan around the twenty-sixth and the work began on the thirtieth. That day Margaret was introduced to Janet Gourlay who had come to assist with the excavation.
The beginning of the long relationship between "Maggie" Benson and "Nettie" Gourlay was not signaled with any particular importance. By May of the same year she was to write (also to her mother): "I like her more and more -- I haven't liked anyone so well in years". Miss Benson and Miss Gourlay seemed to work together very well and to share similar reactions and feelings. They were to remain close friends for much of Margaret's life, visiting and travelling together often. Their correspondence reflects a deep mutual sympathy and Janet was apparently much on Margaret's mind because she often mentioned her friend in writing to others. After her relationship with Margaret Benson she faded into obscurity and even her family has been difficult to trace, although a sister was located a few years ago. A For the second season in 1896 the work staff was a little larger, with eight to twelve men, twenty-four to thirty-six boys, a rais (overseer), guardians and the necessary water carrier. With the first court considered cleared in the previous season, work was begun at the gate way between the first and second courts.
An investigation was made of the ruined wall between these two courts and the conclusion was drawn that it was "a composite structure" suggesting that part of the wall was of a later date than the rest. The wall east of the gate opening is of stone and clearly of at least two building periods while the west side has a mud brick core faced on the south with stone.
Margaret thought the west half of the wall to be completely destroyed because it was of mud brick which had never been replaced by stone. She found the remains of "more than one row of hollow pots" which she thought had been used as "air bricks" in some later rebuilding. Originally built of mud brick, like many of the structures in the Precinct of Mut, the south face of both halves of the wall was sheathed with stone one course thick no later than the Ramesside Period. During the Ptolemaic Period the core of the east half of the mud brick wall was replaced with stone but the Ramesside sheathing was retained.
Here the untrained excavator was beginning to understand some of the problems of clearing a temple structure in Egypt. Mariette's plan of the second chamber probably seemed accurate after a superficial examination so a complete clearing seemed unnecessary. Other fragments were found and the original height of the seated statue was estimated between fourteen and sixteen feet high. The following year de Morgan, the Director General of the Department of Antiquities, ordered the head sent to the museum in Cairo The finding of the large lion head is mentioned in a letter from Margaret to her mother dated February 9, 1896, 22.
In the same letter she also mentions the discovery of a statue of Ramesses II on the day before the letter was written.
23.Her published letters often give exact or close dates of discoveries whereas her later publication in the Temple of Mut in Asher was an attempt at a narrative of the work in some order of progression through the temple and dates are often lacking.
About the same time that the giant lion head was found some effort was made to raise a large cornerstone block but a crowbar was bent and a rope was broken. The end result of the activity is not explained at that point and the location of the corner not given but it can probably be identified with the southeast cornerstone of the Mut Temple mentioned later in a description of the search for foundation deposits. A Somewhere near the central axis of the second court, but just inside the gateway, they came on the upper half of a royal statue with nemes headdress and the remains of a false beard.
There had been inscriptions on the shoulder and back pillar but these had been methodically erased. The lower half was found a little later and it was possible to reconstruct an over life-sized, nearly complete, seated statue of a king. The excavators published it as "possibly" Tutankhamun, an identification not accepted today, and it is still to be seen, sitting to the east of the gateway, facing into the second court.24 A large statue of Sakhmet was also found, not as large as the colossal head, but larger than the other figures still in the precinct and in most Egyptian collections. It was also reconstructed and left in place, on the west side of the doorway where it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the temple.
In the clearance of the second court a feature described as a thin wall built out from the north wall was found in the northeast corner.
It was later interpreted by the nineteenth century excavators as part of the arrangement for a raised cloister and it was not until recent excavation that it was identified as the lower part of the wall of a small chapel, built against the north wall of the court. The process of determining any sequence of the levels in the second court was complicated by the fact that it had been worked over by earlier treasure hunters and archaeologists. In some cases statues were found below the original floor level, leading to the assumption that some pieces had fallen, broken the pavement, and sunk into the floor of their own weight.
It is more probable that the stone floors had been dug out and undermined in the search for antiquities. A An attempt was made to put the area in order for future visitors as the excavation progressed. This included the reconstruction of some of the statues as found and the moving of others in a general attempt to neaten the appearance of the temple. Other finds made in the second court included inscribed blocks too large to move or reused in parts of walls still standing.
The statue identified as Ramesses II, mentioned in Margaret's letter of February 9, was found on the southwest side of the court, near the center.
It was a seated figure in pink granite, rather large in size, but when it was completely uncovered it was found to be broken through the middle with the lower half in an advanced state of disintegration. The upper part was in relatively good condition except for the left shoulder and arm and it was eventually awarded to the excavators.
A Mention was also made of several small finds from the second court including a head of a god in black stone and part of the vulture headdress from a statue of a goddess or a queen.
The recent ongoing excavations carried out by the Brooklyn Museum have revealed a female head with traces of a vulture headdress as well as a number of fragments of legs and feet which suggest that the head of the god found by Margaret Benson was from a pair statue representing Amun and Mut. Another important discovery she made on the south side of the court was a series of sandstone relief blocks representing the arrival at Thebes of Nitocris, daughter of Psamtik I, as God's Wife of Amun.25A At some time during the season Margaret was made aware of the possibility that foundation deposits might still be in place.
These dedicatory deposits were put down at the time of the founding of a structure or at a time of a major rebuilding, and they are often found under the cornerstones, the thresholds or under major walls, usually in the center.
They contain a number of small objects including containers for food offerings, model tools and model bricks or plaques inscribed with the name of the ruler.
The importance of finding such a deposit in the Temple of Mut was obvious to Margaret because it would prove to everyone's satisfaction who had built the temple, or at least who had made additions to it.
A They first looked for foundation deposits in the middle of the gateway between the first and second courts. At the same time another part of the crew was clearing the innermost rooms in the south part of the temple. Under the central of the three chambers they discovered a subterranean crypt with an entrance so small that it had to be excavated by "a small boy with a trowel". This chamber has been re-cleared in recent years and proved to be a small rectangular room with traces of an erased one-line text around the four walls.
In antiquity the access seems to have been hidden by a paving stone which had to be lifted each time the room was entered. A The search for foundation deposits continued in the southeast corner of the temple (probably the place where the crowbar was bent and the rope broken).
Again no deposit was found but in digging around the cornerstone, below the original ground level, they began to find statues and fragments of statues. As the earth continued to yield more and more pieces of sculpture, Legrain arrived from the Amun Temple, where he was supervising the excavation, and announced his intention to take everything away to the storehouse. Aside from the pleasure of the find, it was important to have the objects at hand for study, comparison and the copying of inscriptions.



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