Report Campaign 2008


The tombs of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12) are located in the central area of Dra Abu-el Naga. They were hewn at the foothill, and they are interconnected through a third tomb (–399–). They all date to the early XVIIIth Dynasty. The tombs of Djehuty and Hery are decorated in relief. Djehuty was a high official under Hatshepsut. As “overseer of works”, he was responsible for directing the craftsmen involved in the decoration of shrines and temples all over Thebes. As “overseer of the Treasure” he registered, among other things, the marvels that were brought from Punt in year nine of Hatshepsut. Hery lived around 50 years earlier. His main title was “overseer of the granaries of the king’s mother and royal wife Ahhotep”. Through his mother, he might have been related to the royal family. He probably lived under King Ahmose, and died under Amenhotep I.


The seventh archaeological season took place during the months of January and February 2008. One of the main goals was the excavation of the shaft located inside the inner most chamber of Djehuty’s funerary monument, which was a sort of sancta sanctorum, with three statues inside a niche at the rear wall. The shaft occupies the whole north-eastern side of the room. Its mouth measures 2 x 1 m., and it is cut on the bedrock 50 cm. above the level of the room’s floor. The shaft was discovered last season, after clearing the debris that filled the room. The debris contained modern materials, including coins dating to the end of the XIXth century. As we descended down the shaft, the first four meters also contained modern objects, such as porcelain fragments, an iron lock, pieces of paper and corn leftovers. Below that level, modern materials were no longer found, what seems to indicate that modern robbers stopped descending into the shaft at this depth. The rubble that filled the shaft had abundant pottery sherds of the Third Intermediate Period down to the very bottom of the shaft, what seems to indicate that Djehuty’s shaft was opened and re-used at least once in the Third Intermediate Period. Nevertheless, until the interior of the burial chamber is excavated in the coming season these are pure hypothesis.

The shaft is 8.10 m. deep. The walls are well carved, and the longer sides have small holes aligned and going down, hewn every 50 cm. approximately, to help the ancient workmen climb up and down. The shaft’s floor is also well carved. At the bottom, at its south-eastern side, there is a 1 m. tall opening leading to the funerary chamber. It measures approximately 5.50 x 3.50 m., and it is 1.5 m. high. The walls and the ceiling were well carved and polished. It seems that they were never decorated, and today they are blackened from the smoke of one or more fires that were lit inside the chamber by intruders. Some blocks have fallen from the ceiling, and others seem to be ready to fall down. The chamber is filled with mounds of debris up to 1 m. high. There is clear evidence of human activity inside the chamber after its first occupant was buried, probably ancient robbers that moved around things and broke into pieces the funerary equipment and provision containers. Scattered through the surface, one can easily see human bones, pottery and fragments of coffins. Due to its complexity, delicate state, and the need to conduct a careful and systematic excavation, it was decided to leave its thorough investigation for the coming season.

The tomb located between that of Djehuty (TT 11) and Hery (TT 12), numbered –399– by F. Kampp, was filled with debris falling through a hole in the ceiling of the transverse hall. Last season we located and cleared the hole, and this season we were ready to start excavating the tomb. During the excavation we discovered many fragments from the walls of the neighbouring tombs: blocks coming from the second biographical stela of Djehuty, and blocks coming from the funerary procession that decorates the south-western wall of the central corridor of Hery’s tomb.

At the south-western end of the transverse hall, we discovered the opening of a shaft, measuring 1.90 x 0.95 m, and framed with mud bricks (35 x 16 x 10 cm.). On top of its mouth there was a mummified body in quite good state of preservation, belonging to a male between 35 and 55 years old. The head was exposed, while the rest of the body was wrapped with linen bandages. The mummification style seems to be that of the end of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period. It seems that in the Graeco-roman Period the mummy was removed from its original place and left in such a way as to give the impression that it was coming out of the shaft. The torso was elevated, resting on a mound of rubble and mud bricks, and looking towards Djehuty’s tomb, so that the visitor and/or intruder would see him through the hole communicating both tombs. Tomb –399– was used in the Graeco-roman Period to burn human remains, which were then covered with a thick layer of lime. Remains of animal mummies (ibis and falcon) were also found, on the floor of the transverse hall, together with fragments of Roman pottery.

The walls of the central corridor have two small niches, and fire was lit inside. In the middle of the corridor’s floor there is a hole that takes up most of its breath, 1.10 m. The opening is 2.00 m. long, but it has a slopping side that reduces the length of the mouth to 0.70 m. The slopping side makes easier the access to a subterranean gallery. Its entrance measures 0.88 x 80 m. There is a demotic graffiti at the entrance, written in red ink. The gallery is filled with debris, and it is connected to the shaft that opens at the inner chamber of the tomb.

The south-western side of the inner chamber of tomb –399– is mostly occupied by a shaft. Around its mouth there was a big amount of burned human bones, covered with a layer of lime. Saite pottery was found there, together with four small metal bracelets.

The walls of the transverse hall were repaired, in order to secure the ceiling of the tomb, which had a couple of big and dangerous cracks. This task was crucial to secure and strengthen also the south-western wall of Hery’s corridor, which has a big hole in this area weakening the whole structure.


The archaeological work outside the tombs has focused on several areas. Firstly, we excavated above the façade of the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11), aiming to find traces of its superstructure. Last season, we discovered the rear side of the wall that was built to raise the tomb’s façade up to 6 m. high. The wall was built with masonry, and coated with a fine lime mortar. Mud bricks were also used to fill the 2 m. thickness of the wall. The stone blocks were extremely well cut (all of them measuring 30 cm. high), and very carefully placed one next to the other. The rear side of the wall measures 1.20 m. high, and it was carefully finished due to the fact that the access to the tombs on the “second floor” ran half a meter behind it. This season we finished the work in this area.

The courtyard of the tomb of Djehuty is quite elongated, measuring 34 m. long and 7.6 m. wide. The floor is cut in the bedrock, but 12 m. away from the façade the rock continues its descending slope and disappears below the floor level. For this reason, in order to reach the entrance of the court, the area of the floor further away from the façade was filled and levelled with limestone chips, then covered with sand (dakka) and finished with a layer of white fine mortar.

Last season, we opened a trench in the middle of Djehuty’s courtyard to learn how the “artificial” floor was filled, and if there were any remains of an earlier use of the area. Near the north-eastern side wall of the court, and one meter bellow Djehuty’s floor, a Middle Kingdom coffin was found lying on the bedrock. Its owner was a middle class old lady, buried with just a fayence necklace. She was laid sidewise, facing to the raising sun. The coffin had no inscription, and it only had a pottery hes-vase and a nu-vase associated with it. Under the coffin, seven balanos seeds were found.


This season, we decided to extended the trench and a second burial was found very close to the one discovered last year. In this case, only the lower half of the coffin and of the human body (a male in his thirties) inside it was preserved. The coffin was of the same kind as the other one, and it was also lying on the bedrock, one meter bellow Djehuty’s floor. The section of the trench in this area revealed that there had been four major floods between the time of these two burials, c. 2000 B.C., and when Djehuty built his funerary monument, c. 1480 B. C.

The extension of the trench towards the south-western side wall of the courtyard brought to light a group of five undamaged pottery vessels, dating to the 11th Dynasty. Not far from this spot, but unrelated to the group of vessels, we discovered an intact 11th Dynasty burial inside a small rock recess, measuring 2.60 x 1.80, and 1 m. high. The ceiling was 1 m. bellow Djehuty’s floor level. The coffin was pushed inside, it was partially covered with sand and small stones, and the entrance was then blocked with a few rocks. Next to the coffin, the only funerary equipment that was left there consisted of a marl clay C globular jar, and five broken arrows. The jar is very similar to some of the 11th Dynasty vessels found at el-Tarif. The arrows were made of reeds and their tips of ebony, having a plain end without sharp points. The rear end of three of the arrows still have feathers attached to the reeds.

The entrance to the burial place is to the south-east. The coffin was introduced sidewise, and it was left so that the deceased would be facing the raising sun. The coffin is relatively well preserved, despite the fact that it had suffered from water and termites. It is rectangular, measuring 1.95 x 0.44 x 0.54 m. The upper face of the lid has two holes at each end to attach some kind of handle. The boards employed are quite thick: 7 cm. The space left inside is just 30 cm. wide, and the body was squeezed in sidewise. The exterior of the coffin is painted in red, with an inscription running along the four sides and on top of the lid. The inscription has a white background, and the hieroglyphic signs are polychrome. The eastern side had a pair of udja-eyes painted below the inscribed band, but unfortunately this part of the coffin is the one that has suffered most from water and termites.

The hieroglyphic signs have been traced in a naïf style, characteristic of the First Intermediate Period. The horned-viper-sign for the letter /f/ has its neck always cut off. The head-end has one of the earlier references to Hathor as one of the main deities of the Hearafter. The name of Anubis lord of Sepa written on the lid has a very peculiar semantic determinative: a seated human figure, with flagellum and a conical crown, painted in red. The name of he owner is written only once, on the foot-end: Iqer, “The Excellent One”. No titles are mentioned.

The head and base of the coffin has suffered heavily from termites. For that reason, we consolidated the cracks and delicate areas in situ before removing it from its original place. Once it was taken outside and placed safely inside Djehuty’s tomb, cleaning and consolidation continued.

Inside the coffin, the body lays on the left side. It has a cartonnage mummy mask, with a usekh-collar painted on the chest. The shroud wrapping the body is tied up at the feet, the laces also holding attached to the body two long self bows and three curved staves. The bows measure 1.60 m., actually 10 cm. longer than the estimated height of their owner (1.50 m.). They still have the twisted gut cord tied to both tips. The staves measure 1.09 m., and are slightly curved near the top end. The interior of the coffin has suffered greatly from running water and termites, and it is in an extremely fragile condition.

The finding confirms that 1 m. below Djehuty’s courtyard there is part of the 11th–12th Dynasty necropolis, that was covered by and hidden under much more elaborate funerary monuments five hundred years later.


The archeobotanist Ahmed Fahmy studied the 44 flower bouquets that were found last season inside a pit dug in the courtyard of the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11). At least four of them contain olive branches. They were found together with 44 broken pottery vases, dating to the 20th Dynasty. The contents of the pit might be related to a ritual performed near the burial ground, during which pots were broken next to flower stands, as represented at the Saqqarah tomb of the general Horemheb and other contemporary funerary monuments.

Salima Ikram studied human and animal mummified remains, and two funerary deposits that were found in previous seasons outside the tombs. She was also involved in the preliminary study of the interior of Iqer’s coffin.

Roxy Walker studied the bones of the individual inside the 11th–12th Dynasty coffin found below Djehuty’s courtyard, and the body found in the transverse hall of tomb –399–. She also studied the bodies of four individuals buried together on the courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb, probably dating to the Third Intermediate Period.

Consolidation and conservation are basic pillars of the project. We have paid special attention, as in previous years, to the consolidation of fragile materials as they were unearthed, such as boards of wooden coffins, linen, papyrus fragments, etc. We have also started cleaning and restoring the walls of Djehuty’s tomb. Having this goal in mind, aside of two Spanish restorers, two geologist have joined the group to analyze thoroughly the condition of the rock. They have also continued the monitoring of the environmental conditions inside the monument. As in previous years, we have been lucky to have with us the Egyptian restorer Ahmed Bahdady Yousef. He has been responsible for the restoration of the wooden coffin (c. 1000 B.C.) that we found during the second season and that is now kept at Carter House Magazine.

Two architects have been in charge of the topography. The documentation of the material culture and of the monuments is done by means of photography and epigraphy. These two kinds of records are produced at the same time as the excavation takes place.


The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo has been extremely helpful in every way, and we are most grateful to the Secretary General, Dr. Zahi Hawass, to Mr. Sabry Abd El-Azziz, General Director of Excavations, and to Mr. Magdy El-Gandour, General Director of Foreign and Egyptian Missions Affairs. In Luxor, the Antiquities Service has always been ready to help, and our gratitude goes to Mr. Mansour Boraek Radwan, General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt; Mr. Mohamed Asm, General Director in the area of Luxor, and to Mr. Ali El-Asfar, Director of the Antiquities Department in the West Bank.

Our inspector for this season, Mr. Mohamed Abu Talib, has been extremely kind, and most cooperative. He has been very efficient and diligent in his duties, and we consider ourselves very lucky to have him working with us.

Rais Ali Farouk El-Quiftauy, as in years before, has played an important role in the success of our work. He organizes the workmen perfectly well, and has a great sensibility for archaeology, for the conservation of the objects found and the structures unearthed. He gathers all the qualities that a good rais must have.

We have employed around thirty workmen. They have all worked very hard and with great care, and we are more than satisfied with their job.

7 th Season, 2008

Field Director: Dr. José M. Galán

General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt: Mansour Boraek Radwan

General Director of Antiquities in Luxor: Mohamed Asm

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

Field Inspector: Mohamed Abu Talib

Rais: Ali Farouk El-Quiftauy

Team Members:
Dr. José M. Serrano (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Dr. Andrés Diego (Egyptologist; epigraphy)
Dr. José M. Parra (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Dr. María J. López (Egyptologist; pottery)
Dr. Salima Ikram (Egyptologist; mummified bodies)
Dr. Roxy Walker (Physical anthropology)
Dr. Ahmed Fahmy (Archeobotanist)
Dr. Sergio Sánchez (Geologist)
Soledad Cuezva (Geologist)
Gemma Menéndez (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Francisco Borrego (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Elena de Gregorio (Egyptologist, pottery)
Pía Rodriguez (conservator & restorer)
Leandro de la Vega (conservator & restorer)
Carlos Cabrera (architect)
Juan Ivars (architect)
Ana de Diego (Photographer)

Sponsored by: Fundación Caja Madrid

Academic Institution: Spanish National Research Centre (CSIC), Madrid