BIG Column news

Hello from Antinoupolis!  We have made an excellent start this campaign in a number of different areas.  However, we have only gotten the internet up and running yesterday – thus my delay in sending you the news.

Since we have not worked in over a year (last in October of 2015), I am pleased to tell you that the site looks good with minimal evidence of recent looting.  In the next few days I’ll be sending updates from the Foundation’s, as well as the overall mission’s, work around the site to fill you in on our progress.

Our director, Prof. Rosario Pintaudi, has plans to re-erect one of the largest columns known at Antinoupolis which is located in the East Gate area.  This area is discussed in the first number of our newsletter, available here http://antinoupolis.net/newsletters/.  The East Gate area is called “Magnetometry Test Area 4” and is discussed beginning on page 3.  The column in question is only slightly smaller than the columns forming the pediment (front façade) of the Pantheon in Rome, and we have the red granite base, sitting upright, plus the three sections of the shaft, also in red granite, lying in a rough line, presumably where they fell, to the north.

Large column bases in East Gate area.

Large column bases in East Gate area.

There is another matching base nearby which is upside down, but the base which aligns with the shaft segments seems to be in situ, meaning in its ancient location.  The first step, then, would be to determine if the base actually is in its original location.  The mission’s architect, Peter Grossmann is working nearby drawing the plan of a later Christian church, and he undertook to clean around the column base to try to determine if the original foundation is present.

Peter Grossmann with the intact column foundation.

Peter Grossmann with the intact column foundation.

And he found it!  The large ashlar masonry below the column base is unquestionably the ancient column’s foundation.  There is a slight mis-alignment between the base and the ashlars of the foundation, but this is not uncommon in ancient construction and does not preclude the base being in situ.  However, we will, with the help of the mission's surveyor, check the alignment of the base to the city’s grid to confirm the alignment is correct before we proceed.  Rosario has already put in an application to the permanent committee of the SCA (the Egyptian antiquities authority) for permission to proceed with re-erecting the column, and he has also, together with our archaeologist Fathy Awad, begun discussions with an engineer who would do the work.  This symbolic raising of the largest column known in the ancient city would be a draw for tourism at the site as well as inaugurate a much-needed program of re-erection and restoration of the Roman urban fabric.

Peter continued clearing nearby to try to find the foundation for the second, upturned column base, but instead he found a wall made of large limestone ashlar blocks, plus a section of the shaft which must have been atop the upturned base.  Go Peter!