Usli. Na prahu říše boha Amona
Usli. A Site on the threshold of Amun’s empire
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The Czech Institute of Egyptology exploration of the archaeological site at Usli came to its fifth season. The site is becoming an important stone in the overall mosaic of the ancient history of the Sudan. The seasons 2014 and 2015 focus - ed on the New Kingdom Temple No. 1 and on the Kushite Palatial Complex including Temple No. 3 and a large circular structure discovered by the 2013 geophys ical survey. The overall length of Temple No. 1 was at the minimum of 40 metres, with its width equating to at least 17.50 metres. The temple was oriented from south-east (front part, entrance) to north-west (rear part), i.e. with the entrance away from the Nile just as in the case of the small brick temple detected further north-west of Temple No. 1. The Sandstone Temple consisted of (at least) one columned court featuring four columns along the shorter and six along the longer walls; of the excavated column bases, more than one half was uncovered in situ. Further, there was a pronaos featuring four columns. This gave way to three sanctuaries (or a triple sanctuary) located at the very rear side of the structure. The 2014 field campaign confirmed the poor state of preservation of this mon ument. In general, the above-ground part of the structure has been entirely eroded and quarried away; the small fragments bearing remains of the original decoration are unfortunately insufficient to study the original decoration motives or to ascertain which deities were actually worshipped in the temple’s sanctuaries. The fact that the structure was of high importance is indicated by the 2009 discovery of a royal statue (Bárta et al. 2013a) and by the presence of numerous fragments of gold foil discovered in 2014. Some important data were acquired from the 2015 spring campaign at Usli. First, considering the large rightangled structure located to the south of the main “palace” building. Its size, sandstone column bases and perfect layout of the sandstone pavement suggest it was a building of a higher status. The discovery of wall paintings creates an extraordinary context that is probably connected to a religious function of the building. The current hypothesis is that this structure might have been a temple servicing the main “palace”. Paintings were originally covering the whole interior surface of the walls of this structure designated as Temple No. 3. The presumption of contemporaneity between Temple No. 3 and the main “palace” building seems to be support - ed by the existence of an outside pavement that we tentatively interpret as a paved courtyard. The “courtyard” pave ment covers almost the whole area between Temple No. 3 and the main “palace” building. The area between these two buildings was later cut by a large circular structure. The circular structure is clearly cutting into the wall of Temple No. 3. The possible functional interpretation of the large circular feature (11 meters in diameter) is that it was a large well. Final chronological consideration will be possible after the comparison of relevant radiocarbon dates and evidence of scarce finds of pottery (Napatan, Meroitic ceramics) and stylistic examination of wall paintings.
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