The Royal Baths at Meroe (QSAP-21)
Achievements of the season 2018/2019
The construction of a new shelter is the main objective of the work at the Royal Baths since 2013 in frame of QSAP. It will protect and much better present this exceptional Meroitic site to the visitors.
Principal task of the season 2018/2019 was to carry out all necessary preparations at the site before starting the construction of the new shelter. This included final excavations as required by the foundation planning and protective measures of the antiquities on site.
One result of the excavations to prospect the building ground should be highlighted (fig. 1). Close to the exedra and the city wall a huge and massive mudbrick structure built almost directly on the natural soil was discovered. Small sandstone chips indicate that it may have had sandstone elements as lintels or door jambs. This unparalleled structure has to be dated among the earliest buildings at Meroe, i.e. early Napatan times. Thus, it gives valuable results on the history of Meroe City prior to the building of the city wall and the Royal Baths.
Figure 1: The area close to the exedra of the Royal Baths, view from north: The massive mudbrick structure is exposed in two trenches; the city wall of Meroe is at the right (DAI Meroe Royal Baths D-DAI-Z-MRB_20190303_DG-7908_HU)
The protective measures prior to any building activity for the new shelter were concluded during this season (fig. 2 and 3). The measures followed a detailed concept developed by the restorers of the project. First all plastered remains and colour pigments were consolidated, an endeavour that took many seasons. Following, this season the temporary encasements of the architectural structures inside and outside of the existing shelters with special attention to the sculptures could be undertaken.
The decorated show wall at the southern edge of the water basin now is covered with a fibre fleece and encased with a scaffold construction which is an on-site tailor-made protection built of metal pipes and corrugated metal sheets (Fig. 2. Furthermore custom-made metal hoods for covering the sculptures are manufactured. The putting over of the hoods and the final covering with sand will be carried out just before starting the construction work of the new shelter.
Outside the existing shelters all ancient walls and water channels remaining close or directly under the surface are now encased and protected by temporary burnt brick walls (fig. 3). To make these walls completely reversible, they were built with clay mortar, and the space between the new walls is filled with clean sand. Openings close to the surface will serve as drainage during the rainy season.
Hence, the site is properly prepared for the beginning of the construction work for the new shelter.
Figure 2: Temporary encasements in the area of the water basin of the Royal Baths: a scaffold construction for the decorated show wall, and metal hoods for the sculptures (DAI Meroe Royal Baths D-DAI-Z-MRB_20181129_DG-5071_SW)
Figure 3: Temporary encasements for ancient walls and water channels of the Royal Baths with burnt brick walls (DAI Meroe Royal Baths D-DAI-Z-MRB_20190305_DG-7970_HU)