Updated: May 2013
Section Q08 was targeted for clearance first for two reasons: it was one of the smallest debris piles in the area; and it was most visible from the modern road. The small size of the section allowed for problems in the recording methodology to be resolved more easily than in larger sections. In addition, the proximity to the road meant that the results of the work would be immediately visible to passersby.
The first challenge to working in this section was a different interpretation of ARCE’s clearance goals within the MSA West Bank Inspectorate. ARCE’s stated goal was to remove only the lose debris in the identified Q sections. The Inspectorate, however, initially understood ARCE’s goal to be the complete removal of all debris and standing architecture across the entire area. During a dialogue to rectify this misunderstanding, the QSI staff decided to go beyond the stated goal while working in Q08.
Leaving the standing architecture intact, they methodically removed the majority of material covering the section’s dominant structure, referred to as Structure 1. Doing so demonstrated the slow pace of work required for such clearance, and thereby the impracticality of using such a methodology to address the entire area within the project’s established timeframe.
Doing so also provided an archaeological point of comparison for work done later in other sections. The majority of the architectural features, including building materials and construction techniques, for example, that were identified in Q08 have subsequently been identified in structures throughout the site. The in-depth exploration of Structure 1, as a result, gave the project archaeologists information with which to contextualize the visible structures in other sections.
The dominant structure within Q08, labeled Structure 1, is a partially demolished house that belonged to man named Hanafy Abd el Taher, who came from the large Hassasna family. Mr. Hanafy’s family comprised 8 people, including himself, his wife, two sons and four daughters. As a source of income, the family sold imitation antiquities, and Mr. Hanafy worked within the government Irrigation Office that regulates use of the local canals.
The northern walls of Mr. Hanafy’s house were built alongside the modern enclosure wall for TT 324. The house originally had at least two levels and was itself built around an ancient forecourt, with the entrance to the original tomb accessible through the lower level. Such a modern reuse of ancient structures is common throughout the area. The upper portion of Mr. Hanafy’s house was almost completely destroyed by the demolition, but the lower portion, while buried under much debris, remained largely intact.
The work in Mr. Hanafy’s house provided ample evidence of the complicated issue of distinguishing ancient material from modern material. The debris in and around the house, for example, was filled with many fragments of limestone that had been worked for tourists. Discovering such material came as no surprise, as the building immediately above the house continues to be used by a sculptor named Ahmed Abdel Fattah who sells his material to visiting tourists. The dump for his workshop was very likely mixed into the demolished house’s remains when the bulldozers moved through the site. Identifying and recording such limestone carvings, as well as other material sold to tourists, was an important for understanding the economy of the former hamlets.
After the clearance work, the lower portion of the house clearly showed how the ancient forecourt was adapted with simple mud structures to form pens for animals, how the bricked up tomb was used partially as the house’s toilet, and how the bedrock was modified with brick, mortar and stones to create an upper level and dividing wall.
The southern wall of the house’s lower level provides good examples of the typical building techniques of the Qurnawi, including a brick revetment against the sloping cliff, the building up of the bedrock level to create another level for the house, and the addition of mud pigeon holes.
After the completion of the recording process it was deemed necessary to sympathetically reduce some of the remains of Structure 1 and cover the exposed floors and low lying walls, so as to blend their appearance with the surrounding landscape. This work was done at the request of the West Bank Inspectorate. As a result, TT 324’s forecourt is now the dominant manmade structure in Q08. Structure 1 is significantly less obtrusive to the necropolis landscape as a whole, and the section’s ground is now entirely devoid of unsightly debris piles. Most importantly, Structure 1’s ground level features remain intact for future investigation.