Fracture zones endanger tombs in Egypt's Valley of Kings

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Washington, October 19 (ANI): A new research has determined that fracture zones may endanger the tombs in the Valley of Kings in Egypt.

Fracture traces are the above-ground indication of underlying zones of rock fracture concentrations.

They can be between 5 and 40 feet wide, but average about 20 feet and can be as long as a mile.

"Previously, I noticed that some tomb entrances in the Valley of Kings, Luxor, Egypt, were aligned on fracture traces and their zones of fracture concentration," said Katarin A. Parizek, instructor in digital photography, department of integrative arts, Penn State University.

"From my observations, it seems that tomb builders may have intentionally exploited these avenues of less resistant limestone when creating tombs," she added.

Working with Richard R. Parizek, professor of geology and geoenvironmental engineering, Katarin A. Parizek has now looked at 33 of the 63 known tombs in the Valley of Kings.

"We have now documented nine tombs in detail, photographing and mapping the entire tombs inside and out, and preliminary observations have been made in another ten, which still have to be mapped in detail," said Parizek.

"We have recorded 14 more tombs through field observations, but still need to map and photograph these as well," she added.

Of the 63 tombs in the Valley of the Kings, so far 30 have been identified by Parizek as lying on fracture traces, two lie diagonal to a trace and one is completely off of this type of geological structure.

The importance of these geological features is not just that they allow easier tomb creation, but the fracture traces are natural entry points for water, which sometimes damage tombs.

"We have seen evidence of seven separate flood events in four tombs so far," said Parizek.

When it does rain in the area, water enters the fracture traces and runs through the zones of fracture.

Because so many of the tombs are located on the traces, the water runs into the tombs destroying wall and ceiling paintings and causing the tomb surfaces to spall or flake off.

Even if archaeological curators divert water away from the entrances of known tombs, they may be directing the water to currently undiscovered tombs and flooding them.

"Archaeologists try very hard to mitigate flooding in the tombs, but it becomes even harder if there are tombs flooding that no one knows about," said Parizek.

The geological information the team has been gathering is now allowing archaeologists to plan better ways to stop the flooding of both known and unknown tombs by diverting the water away from traces and exposed entrances. (ANI)

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