Structural Behaviour, Disturbing Mechanisms and Conservation Procedures
of Tombs at Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Abdel-Fattah E. El-BANNA*
The Valley of the Kings area is located in Upper Egypt near Luxor, on the western bank of the Nile. This archaeological site includes 62 tombs dating from XVIII Dynasty onwards. Inthe steeply inclined western facing of Gurnah Mountain lies an ancient rock-cut tombs of Valley of the Kings. This tombs are founded, into the rocky mass of expansive limestone structure, and have been destroyed or severely damaged by floodwater saturating the underlying expansive shale.
Due to some geotechnical factors, several instability phenomena have affected the conservation conditions of the tombs. Over the years, cracking, block falling and other signs of structural instability have developed. According to the field observations, the consequences of the relative movements of Rock caused by the presence of joint system, cracks rocks as well as swelling of the shale layer, are the main causes of the roof failure in this tombs. Present research work deals essentially with the analysis of geotechnical data and attempts to present a satisfactory explanation of the observed hazards by a numerical model simulating the failure phenomenon.
The main contribution of this paper is to get a better understanding of the material behaviour. In the present paper, the author present geotechnical characterization of selected samples collected from the valley of the Kings tombs. According to the results, the study revealed that the composition of the limestone varies between predominantly calcareous to argillaceous which was examined by using Atomic Absorption analysis, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), and x-ray diffraction investigation. The calcareous variety consists primarily of calcite, dolomite-ferroan, montmorillonite-15, kaolinite with trace amount of quartz. Samples of fill of fractures from the Esna-Shale massif contain ammoniojarositeNH4Fe3(SO4)2(OH), thenardite Na2SO4, geothite, pyrite FeS2, coquimbite Fe2 (SO4)3. 9H2O, in addition to englishiteK2 Na2 Ca10 Al15 (PO4)21 OH7 and augelite Al2 (PO4) (OH)3, with a minor amount of gypsum and clay minerals. The rock types are mostly heterogeneous aggregates. The fills of fractures indicate that a very strong chemical weathering takes place in the presence of infiltrated waters. The results of the geotechnical rock properties for the natural rock samples, as presented in this paper, have variable values, as follows: the average bulk density (r) is 1.96 T/m3for argillaceous rocks. The Uniaxial compressive strength (sc) is 19 MPa. the Brazilian tensile strength (st) is 1.59 Mpa. The static modulus of elasticity is 2 MPa. The results of these are then presented and discussed with respect to the proposed solution for further conservation works in that area.
Key words ( Valley of the kings, thin-section, geotechnical, argillaceous rocks, rock-cut tombs)
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*Associate Professor, Department of Conservation, Faculty of Archaeology, Cairo University, Egypt