Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Horned Viper


Although once a palace-city that housed hundreds of people, as an archaeological site Malqata is part of Egypt’s low desert. When you visit the site, it is not immediately apparent that wildlife is part of Maqata, but if one is quiet and patient after a little time local birds –like the crested lark appear. But not all the wildlife is innocuous and this season we were reminded of that while clearing the large patches of camelthorn (see blog post for Feb. 15, 2010) from across the site. Camelthorn is damaging to mud brick if it is allowed to grow in archaeological sites because its tough roots explode the brick as it grows. Since we don’t have much left in the way of brick, down to the last few rows, eliminating camelthorn to preserve any piece that still survives, is part of our site management program.

So we tackled this unpleasant task in a big way each season, setting a crew of about 12 men to cut the camelthorn and burn it. During this process, another of Malqata’s hidden occupants was discovered. Buried in the sand under two separate clusters of camelthorn were horned vipers. 

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