Monash University Excavations at Ismant el-Kharab
Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt
An Exhibition of Photographs from the Department of Classics and Archaeology
Material from the Monash University Library Rare Books Collection
30 July - 2 October 1998
View of the Main Temple before Excavation
This view, taken in 1991, looks north-east across the surface of the Main Temple to the North Tombs and shows the good preservation of the latter. The location of the temple is marked by a scatter of sandstone on the surface of a depression.
The forecourt of the Main Temple.
The excavation of the Main Temple commenced in 1991 with the clearance of the main doorway into the temple, its outer rooms and the forecourt.
The Main Temple looking East after excavation.
This view shows the poor state of preservation of the temple.
Double Gateway into the Inner Temple Enclosure.
Following the excavation of the Main Temple attention was turned to the other structures within the enclosure.
Classical Paintings in Shrine IV.
The walls of Shrine IV in the south-east corner of the Main Temple enclosure are completely covered with classical paintings.
Wells in the North-West Corner of the Main Temple Enclosure.
The water supply for use within the temple for offerings and ablutions was obtained from wells located in the north-west corner of the enclosure.
Western Section of Shrine I, the mamissi.
The size and elaboration of decoration of this shrine surpass that of the Main Temple, with which it is contemporary.
Shrine I, West End of the South Wall.
Tutu is shown in the company of Tapshay (uper register) and Neith (lower register). The scenes have been vandalised in antiquity.
Shrine I, East Wall North of Doorway.
This view shows a detail of the classical wall paintings with the heads of females and birds.
Retrieval of Painted Plaster Fragments in Shrine I.
The collapse of Shrine I took place in two phases: first the vault and then the walls.
The Emperor Pertinax Offering to Tapshay.
The emperor is shown wearing an elaborate composite crown and offering a sistrum (rattle) to the goddess Tapshay.
Bronze Figure of Tapshay.
This small bronze figure of the goddess carrying a sceptre and wearing her typical crown is the only three-dimensional representation of her known to date.
Burials in West Tomb 1.
While most of the superstructure of this unusual tomb has gone, eleven burials were found in the single burial chamber.
The West Church.
This view, looking SE, shows the two rooms of this structure. It is identified as a church as it possesses an apse flanked by two side chambers and has a small altar in front of the apse.
Two Burials Adjacent to the West Church.
Against the exterior of the east wall of the West Church, at its north end, in a corridor which separates the West Church from West Tomb 2, two graves were found.
The Large East Church.
This church is located within a complex on the SE edge of Area A at the end of a lane.
Painted decoration in the Large East Church was restricted to the area of the apse.
The Floor of Room 6 in House 3.
House 3 is the largest of a block of three houses excavated on the northern edge of Area A.
House 4 is located on the western edge of Area A close to Area D.
Colonnaded Hall in Area B Structure 1.
Area B is located to the north of Area A and contains three complexes of buildings plus other structures.
Graffiti in Structure 1 Area B.
In 1997 work was recommenced in this structure, again in the colonnaded hall, but now in its north-west corner. Further traces of wall paintings were recovered, with one panel preserving part of the bust of a helmeted figure.
Fragments of an Inscription.
Fragments from several inscriptions written upon papyrus were found in the Main Temple. One may have concerned the temple itself, though the poor state of preservation makes their translation difficult.
Books in situ in House 3.
Two intact wooden codices were found in sand above the floor of the kitchen of House 2 in Area A, they are the Kellis Agricultural Account Book and The Kellis Isocrates Codex.
The Kellis Isocrates Codex.
This contains orations by the fourth-century, Athenian orator Isocrates; they deal with matters relating to kingship. This version is the oldest surviving complete set of these speeches.
Economic Text written in Clay.
This inscribed clay tablet was found in the rubble which filled the double gateway into the Main Temple enclosure, and is the only to have been found in Egypt written in Greek.
Two Books from House 3.
These two wooden books were found tied together and embedded into the floor of Room 4 in House 3. They appear to have been made up from boards taken from different originals, the texts on all but one board are illegible.
Economic Text concerned with Weaving.
This text is written on the other side of the same board as 66. It was clearly used as a support for a piece of leather from which the sole of a sandal cut.
Epistles of Mani.
Amongst the most important of the manichaean texts found at Kellis are substantial parts from the Epistles of mani, which are now in the process of being translated. The Kellis material preserves fragments of various sizes, here is illustrated one of the largest which comprises a bifolium.
Fragment from a Bilingual Text.
Mani wrote in Syriac, a West Semitic language. In order to disseminate his beliefs in Egypt it was necessary to translate his writings into the native language of Coptic.
Numerous private letters were found in House 3 in various states of preservation and in different handwriting. The one illustrated here shows the state in which many are found. Several were still folded when found and the addresses written upon the outside.