Archaeology is often a matter of interpreting unexpected results. Most of the time finds and results are not exactly - or not at all - what you were thinking or hoping to find. In the last days of the season, as we began to excavate down into the well shaft, I was hoping to find a few more fragments of our temple building. Or an even bigger find would be a statue fragment or two which could help us understand more about the dedication of the temple. Instead, as in our trench near the cardo in 2015 where we expected to find pharaonic-style fragments, we found classical style architectural fragments instead - sort of! The fragments from the well in the last few days of the season are stylistically unrelated to our pharaonic-style temple. Instead, they are a hybrid style mixing classical and pharaonic style elements. In addition to the cobra frieze where the final cima (s-curve) molding should be, the pediment (?) block in the photo has alternating fat and thin modillions (brackets) and a very strange visual adjustment (impossible to photograph) whereby the line of the cornice bends away from 90-degrees to the vertical so in places the cornice would appear to flip up, away from the horizontal. And the block, if a corner of a pediment, is from a segmental (or curving) pediment rather than a triangular one. (The pediment is the triangular part of a temple facade on top of the columns.) I've never encountered anything like this, and continue to put a "(?)" next to "pediment" because I'm not sure that is what we have. This is puzzling, but also extremely exciting! It seems unlikely these hybrid elements were incorporated into the temple we are currently excavating. If our current excavation is of a subsidiary temple/shrine, do these new fragments belong to the "main" temple in the complex? As I've mentioned before, the Barbarini Obelisk indicates that the architecture of the Osir-Antinous temple is in a hybrid style of mixed classical and pharaonic elements.
Do these hybrid elements belong to the same building as the unparalleled, strangely detailed classical order (with projected 9.75 meter tall columns) we found in 2015 in a sondage nearby? (See Oracle no 5 here for details: http://antinoupolis.net/newsletters/ ) The only thing that will help us sort out these architectural puzzles is many more years of excavation, but that does not come without much work, planning and funding.
We are already planning our work at the site this autumn and for February of 2018. The spectacular finds, fragments and architecture we've uncovered so far are strong indications that we are beginning to uncover major monuments in the city that Hadrian built for Antinous and are possibly working in the precinct of the temple of Osir-Antinous itself. But a "beginning" is all that it is; there is so much more to be done. If you are impressed with our results so far, please help us. Click here - Donate! - to go to the donation page on our website (or click "Donate Today!") on any page on the website to make a donation by credit card or to find the address where you can send a check. If you are unable to make a donation, you can help by spreading the word to friends and colleagues who might also be interested in our work and able to help. Thank you very much to those of you who have already sent a contribution this year.
We don't have a large budget or paid employees, so your donations go directly to supporting excavation needs. In the past donations have been used not only for large items like paying for the geophysical survey, but also for excavation equipment like trowels, the stone moving cart, computer hard drives, a camera, etc. Our needs are for items large and small; any size donation will help. With all the architectural fragments we are finding, the dig house courtyard is bursting at the seams with them, with more coming up in the excavation every day. Our goal for the coming year with the largest cost will be constructing a fragment storage yard behind the dig house which will be a 19 x 40 meter 2-meter-tall stuccoed concrete wall topped with barbed wire containing brick and stucco platforms to permanently house all the architectural fragments we are finding. We are working now to get estimates for this project which will likely be between ten and twenty thousand dollars. If you can help us achieve this goal it will push forward our knowledge of this monument. Let's all pull together to make this happen! I promise we won't pester you often with funding requests. Thank you very much in advance for your support.