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Quarrying for Augustus: Gebel el-Silsila as a Source for Early Roman Monuments at Dendera

Maria Nilsson, John Ward, Adrienn Almásy-Martin

Abstract


This paper presents a selection of epigraphic documents dispersed over three quarry faces (C11–C13) in the Main Quarry (Q34) at Gebel el-Silsila’s east bank, dating from the reign of the Emperor Augustus. The aim is to describe and decipher the various marks and depictions, and to translate the Demotic and Greek texts, in order to determine for what structure the stone from the quarry was intended. Based on the results, it will be argued that the quarry was the source of blocks used to construct the unfinished enclosure wall, sections of the Roman Mammisi, and plausibly the eastern gate at Dendera. That said, any conclusions at this point must be considered preliminary. Documents included here are part of a corpus of 537 quarry marks and 52 texts displayed over quarry faces C11–13 (with overviews in Appendix 3). The majority of the inscriptions have been unpublished until now. Due to the high number of documents in the collection, however, in this essay a selection has been made based on marks and texts that best communicate a relationship with the temple. A selection of the Dendera quarry mark corpus is presented, as well.

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