Report Campaign 2003

Second Season: January 14th – February 20th

Field Directors: Dr. José M. Galán, and Mohamed El-Bialy

General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt, Luxor::Mohamed A. El-Bialy

General Director of Antiquities in the West Bank:Ali El-Asfar

Chief of Inspectors:Ibrahim Suleiman

Field Inspector:Mahmoud «Khufu»

Rais:Ali Farouk

Members of the Spanish team:

Andrés Diego

José M. Serrano

Ana de Diego

Margarita Conde

Alicia Torija

Gemma Menéndez

José Lull

Montserrat Cruz

Carlos Cabrera

María José López Grande

Juan Ivars

Tomás Galán

Sponsored by: Telefónica Móviles

Tombs of Djehuty and Hery

Hery was a high official at the very beginning of the XVIIIth Dynasty. He held the office of «overseer of the granaries of the royal wife and king’s mother Ahhotep». He built for himself a tomb at Dra Abu el-Naga (TT 12), and decorated the walls of its corridor with scenes in relief of very high quality. The style of the reliefs is similar to Amenhotep I’s reliefs in Karnak. Thus, it is very probable that Hery died under this king, or slightly after.

Today, Hery´s tomb is communicated with that of Djehuty (TT 11) through the transversal hall of a third tomb (no. 399 in F. Kampp, Die tebanische Nekropole).

The name Djehuty was quite common among officials at the beginning of the XVIIIth Dynasty, and particularly during the time of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III. One of them was the owner of the tomb TT 11 at Dra Abu el-Naga. As «overseer of works» under Hatshepsut, he controlled the craftsmen working on the sacred bark «User-hat-Amun», on an ebony chapel in Deir el-Bahari and on various chapels, doors, altars and obelisks in Karnak. As «overseer of the Treasure», he registered the marvels brought to Thebes by the Punt expedition, and products coming from other foreign lands. He managed to gather the resources to make for himself a nice tomb, decorated in relief of a high quality. Due to his close relationship with the queen, however, his face was destroyed from reliefs and statues in his tomb, and his name and the names of his relatives were intentionally erased.

Champollion entered the tomb of Hery and copied one of the inscriptions. Years later, it was Lepsius who came in and copied again some lines from the tombs of Hery and Djehuty. By that time, one of the main inscriptions of Hery´s tomb was already damaged, and it is only through Champollion’s Notices descriptives that we have today a complete reading of it.

In the winter of 1898/99, the marquis of Northampton, accompanied by Spiegelberg and Newberry, carried out a quick inspection of the tombs. They copied and translated a long autobiographical inscription in the tomb of Djehuty (known as «the Northampton stela»), two cryptographic texts (studied by Sethe), and some demotic graffiti related to the burial of ibis and hawk mummies in both tombs.

Among Gardiner manuscripts kept in the Griffith Institute there are a few photographs of the open courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb taken around 1909, before the Antiquities Service closed it for its protection. Burton (1939/40), Schott, and Mekhitarian photographed some of the reliefs in both tombs. Davies, and in 1952/53 Barns and Josef Janssen also visited the tomb and took some notes, but it was Säve-Söderbergh who devoted more time to the study of the relieves in 1956 and published an article on some of the scenes carved in Djehuty’s tomb.

Despite the fact that they have been visited by all these scholars, the tombs of Djehuty and Hery, both partially filled with debris, are lacking a full investigation, study and publication.

A Spanish-Egyptian mission carried out the first season of field work in the tombs of Djehuty and Hery during the month of February 2002. The walls of the tombs were photographed, and preliminary drawings of the areas where the reliefs have almost faded away were carried out, so that we can start studying them also. The open courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb was partially cleared, and sixteen funerary cones bearing his name and titles were recovered, as well as many fragments of reliefs, parts of wooden coffins of different periods, ushebtis, etc. Meanwhile, a stone wall was built around the site to prevent damage from heavy rainfall and from human and animal activity near by. The wooden roof protecting part of the open courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb was also strengthened.

The second season took place during January and February 2003.

The owner of the third tomb is still unknown, but if we take into account the funerary cones that have been found outside, there is a possibility that one of its owners would be a woman called Ahmose, «overseer of the noble woman and chief of the servants», daughter of Ahhotep.


We continued cleaning outside the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11), and we have finally reached the bed rock or «gebel». The floor was carefully leveled and finished. The side walls of the courtyard are now well defined, with several layers of adobe bricks still standing on top of the gebel’s rock. There are traces of plaster on some parts of the side walls. At the northern side, we have uncovered a small niche, which happened to be empty.

When cleaning to the north of the tomb of Djehuty, we discovered the adobe walls that define the courtyards of the tombs of Hery (TT 12) and of another tomb located between that of Djehuty and of Hery. All the structures have been recorded by our architects, using a topographical integrated station. The adobe bricks have been measured. In order to protect them, before leaving, we have surrounded the ancient adobe walls with new mud brick walls, and filled with «rambla» the space between the ancient wall and the new one.

Cleaning the courtyard of the tomb between TT 11 and TT 12, we exposed the shaft. We decided not to excavate it this season, and we closed it with mud bricks. The owner of the third tomb is still unknown, but if we take into account the funerary cones that have been found outside, there is a possibility that one of its owners would be a woman called Ahmose, «overseer of the noble woman and chief of the servants», daughter of Ahhotep. The entrance to this tomb, numbered by Kampp as 399, was uncovered and, before leaving, we closed it with stones and «muna», and also with mud bricks. Next season we will order a metal door for it.

The exterior of the tomb of Hery reserved for us the biggest surprise. Above its entrance we have discovered the lower part of a pyramid. Its core was made of tafl mortar, that is, a mixture of desert gravel and thin sand, which adds to it a reddish color. The outer surfaces of the pyramid are made of mud bricks and stones, coated with lime whitened plaster. To protect it, we have covered it with a special fabric, a thin layer of sand and new mud bricks. We have built a new stone wall on top of the hill to protect the tombs from heavy rainfall and to reduce the damage from human and animal activity in the surrounding area.

The two architects that integrated the Spanish team have carried out the topography of the area around TT 11 and TT 12. They have also taken the necessary data to produce an accurate plan of the tombs. A modern and safe electricity system has been installed inside the tombs. Together with a geologist, the architects have carefully examined the quality of the rock of the tombs, in order to determined if the underground structures were safe. Despite the cracks and the deteriorated state of the ceiling in TT 11, the tombs do not present any significant danger.

The inner most chamber of Djehuty tomb (TT 11) has two holes on the ceiling, through which debris fall down and almost fill now the sanctuary. In close collaboration with rais Ali Farouk, we have been able to block one of them. In the second «mouth» we have carried out some tests, and we will try to close it next season.

The conservator of our team has worked very hard consolidating the most fragile materials that we have unearthed. After cleaning them carefully with Acetone, she has used mainly Paraloid B 72 for consolidation. It is remarkable the work she has done cleaning a painted wooden tablet of the time of Thutmosis III, and consolidating the cracks of the coffin we found in Djehuty’s courtyard.

All the objects that we have found cleaning the courtyards of the tombs have been carefully studied, photographed, classified, registered in special archaeological files and stored in hard plastic boxes inside the tomb of Djehuty.

Description of the main objects found in the courtyards:

  • Wooden coffin painted in light white. The eyes are outlined in black, and colored in bright white. It probably belongs to a woman. It has no inscriptions. It can be dated to the Third Intermediate Period. It was found in the courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb (TT 11). It was closed, and contained a mummy inside. The mummy will be studied next season. The carving of the lid is of high quality. In general terms, the state of conservation is good. However, the coffin has many cracks and the nose is missing. We have consolidated it with Paraloid B 72. It would need restoration in the future.
  • Head of a wooden coffin, painted in light white. The eyes are outlined in black, and colored in bright white. The style is very close to the piece described above, and could also be dated to the Third Intermediate Period. In this case, because of its size and facial features, its owner might be a girl. It was also found in the courtyard of TT 11.
  • Lid of a canopic pottery jar. It has the face of a man, with only the eyes painted with a thin black line. It probably dates to the XVIIIth Dynasty. The face was made separately on a mould, and afterwards added to the lid.
  • Ushebti made of wood, and painted with bright colours. The inscription running down the central part of its body identifies its owner as a «songstress of Amun». It probably dates to the XIXth Dynasty. It was found in the courtyard of the tomb of Hery (TT 12).
  • Fragment from an alabaster vase, with an inscription incised. It includes the cartouche of the king Ahmose (XVIIIth Dynasty). From the courtyard of TT 11.
  • Linen cloth in a good state of conservation. It has an inscription written with red ink, mentioning that it was made in the year 2 of Amenhotep II’s reign.
  • Fragments of a wooden tablet, covered with a thin layer of plaster and painted in yellow. Afterwards, a grid was painted in red ink, and figures were drawn in black following the cannon of proportions. On one side, two royal statues are represented standing up, looking to the front, with their arms falling at the sides of the body and the hands closed. Nex t to them there is a hieratic text. On the other side, a pharaoh is depicted in the pose of hunting in the marshes. This piece is very similar to the one exhibited in the British Museum and dating to the reign of Thutmosis III. Generally speaking, the state of conservation of the fragments is good. The fragments have been carefully cleaned, and consolidated.
  • Numerous funerary cones of various persons. Those belonging to Djehuty are the most numerous. A certain Baki, overseer of the cattle of Amun is also mentioned in many of them, as well as a woman, overseer of the servants and of the noble women, Ahmose, daughter of Ahhotep, also overseer of servants.
  • The mummy of a monkey was found next to the shaft of the courtyard between the tombs of Djehuty and Hery. The state of preservation is very good, despite the fact the head was separated and the skull has two perforations. Hieratic ostrakon. Text written on pottery (two fragments) in black, with few traces of red ink.
  • Varia: numerous fragments of pottery from various periods; small ushebties, uninscribed; scattered remains of human mummies, etc.


This season has been extremely fruitful. The archaeological work, as well as the technical work, together with the number and importance of the objects found, have meet the higher standardts. For that reason, on February 3rd., we had the honour to welcome in our site the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass, who attended the opening of the coffin and the first examination of its mummy. We also have had the priviledge to receive the visit from the Minister of Culture, Mr. Farouk Hosni, on February 13th., who appreciated very much the magnificent works of art we had found. This was the highest reward we could have expected for our hard work.