Report Campaign 2013
12th Season Report: January 8th – February 21st
The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo has been extremely helpful in every way, and we are most grateful to all those who were in charge during the preparation and execution of the 12th archaeological season, the Minister of State Antiquities, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, the Secretary General, Dr. Mostafa Amin, and to Dr. Mohamed Ismail, Director of Permanent Committee and Foreign Missions Affairs. In Luxor, as it has been the case for every year in the past, the authorities responsible of the Supreme Council of Antiquities have been most helpful, in particular Mansour Boraek, General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt, Mohamed Asm, General Director in the area of Luxor, and Dr. Mohamed Abd el-Aziz, Director of the Antiquities Department in the West Bank
We have had as inspector this season Hekmat el-Arabi, who has been extremely kind and most cooperative, efficient and diligent in all her duties.
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 120 workmen. They have all worked very hard and with great care, and we are more than satisfied with their job.
The field season has been sponsored by Union Fenosa Gas (UFG), a Spanish gas company whose main activity is based in Damietta (http://www.unionfenosagas.com/en), and by the Spanish Ministry of Culture (http://www.mcu.es).
Djehuty lived in the ancient city of Thebes, modern Luxor, in the early 15th century BC, under the reign of one of the few women who served as pharaoh in Egypt’s long ancient history: Maatkare Hatshepsut. Djehuty held the position of “overseer of the Treasury” of the royal administration and “overseer of works” of the craftsmen, who decorated with metals, precious stones and exotic woods the monuments the Queen built on both sides of the Nile. It all seems to indicate that he died before Hatshepsut disappeared from the scene around 1470 BC. Unlike the principal dignitaries at the time, who built their tombs on the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, southwest of the mortuary temple of the Queen, Djehuty placed his monument for eternity across the valley of Deir el-Bahari, about five hundred meters northeast, on the hill known today as Dra Abu el-Naga. Why did Djehuty move away from his colleagues? Why did he choose that particular place?
The hill of Dra Abu el-Naga stands on the western bank of the Nile, at the north end of the necropolis, right in front of the temple of Karnak, which in the early 15th century BC, with the establishment of the 18th Dynasty, became the main temple of Thebes, and its clergy, dedicated to the worship of the god Amun, gradually acquired greater social and economic relevance. In search of symbolic elements in the landscape that emphasized religious ideas and funerary conceptions, Dra Abu el-Naga seemed a suitable place to be buried, since the sun that in the mornings rose between the obelisks and pylons of the temple of Amun at Karnak, hid behind the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga at dusk.
Moreover, the most important event then in Thebes, the “Beautiful Feast of the Valley “, during which the cult statue of the god Amun was taken in procession from the temple of Karnak and accompanied until the hill of Deir el-Bahari, reached the necropolis precisely at the foothill of Dra Abu el-Naga, right where Djehuty built his house for eternity.
Most likely, the religious symbolism the hill acquired and the strategic position in the most important annual procession had significant influence over the choice of the site. But other political or social factors could just as well have played a part in Djehuty’s decision, as, for example, the fact that the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga had been chosen by the royal family in the previous dynasty, the 17th Dynasty, who were perceived as the quintessential Theban rulers. It seems that the early 18th Dynasty kings were also buried there, Hatshepsut being the first ruler to break the tradition and open the Valley of the Kings as the place to locate the royal tomb. At that time, Dra Abu el-Naga became more accessible, while retaining intact its religious and political connotations. So, around 1470 BC, Djehuty decided to find a place for his funerary monument between the royal family and courtiers of the previous dynasty, in an area full of religious symbolism and Theban noble ancestry.
SECTOR 10, SOUTHWEST OF THE COURTYARD ENTRANCE TO THE TOMB-CHAPEL OF DJEHUTY
Djehuty built his tomb-chapel at the foothill of Dra Abu el-Naga, at ground level, at the same height as the path followed by the procession of the “Beautiful Feast of the Valley ” towards Deir el-Bahari, where the quality of the limestone was better and more compact, allowing the interior walls to be decorated in relief.
The land in this part of the necropolis was already then quite populated, occupied by burials of the 17th Dynasty (approximately between 1650 and 1550 BC), and even earlier, from the 11th and 12th Dynasties (ca. 2000 BC). So Djehuty had to build his monument in a narrow space, in between tomb-chapels carved into the slope of the hill a few years before, as Hery’s tomb-chapel (TT 11), built during the reign of Amenhotep I, ca. 1520 BC, and make his courtyard long and narrow to dodge the funerary shafts and mud-brick chapels erected in that area, a few years earlier, and which were still receiving offerings. In fact, the left side-wall of the courtyard had to be deviated towards the interior to avoid going above and damaging a small mud-brick chapel. The deviation in Djehuty’s wall indicates, from the time that the 2006 excavations unveiled the courtyard, that the little mud-brick chapel predated Djehuty and, despite its seemingly insignificant appearance, it must have been considered important enough to be respected by such a high dignitary.
The area of the small mud-brick chapel, to the left of the courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel, that is, southwest, was occupied by the houses that stood at the end of the modern town, stretching over the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga until January 2007, when the governor of Luxor, along with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, demolished the entire village and relocated the people in new houses along New Qurna. In 2008 we took the opportunity to ask the Supreme Council of Antiquities to extend our concession towards the southwest, whilst we offered to remove the debris piled there after the demolitions. Our request was granted, and in 2009 and 2010 we conducted a thorough cleaning of the area now under our responsibility.
The excavation of the new area began in January 2011, and was named “Sector 10”. That year’s campaign lasted half than usual, only three weeks, due to the riots that began on January 25th and ended up overthrowing President Hosni Mubarak. The following year, in 2012, we were able to carry out a normal campaign, which lasted six weeks, and, among other things, we unveiled and excavated the mud-brick chapel that caused the deviation in Djehuty’s courtyard side-wall.
AHMOSE-SAPAIR AND THE TRANSITION FROM THE 17th TO THE 18th DYNASTY (ca. 1550 BC)
The mud-brick chapel is very simple, it measures 2.20 x 2.20 m, and is only 0.90 m high. In front of the chapel, topped by mud-bricks and displaying a standard size (2.49 x 0.83 m) we unearthed the funerary shaft curb associated with the chapel. Inside the chapel we found six wooden funerary figurines (shabtis), three of them inscribed: one with an offering formula written in cursive hieroglyphs, and including the name of the recipient, Ahmose, and the other two just mentioning the name of Ahmose-sapair, written in hieratic. In addition, we found a linen fragment with Ahmose’s name written in black ink, and another linen tissue with a perfectly legible inscription, indicating “daiu-linen for Ahmose-sapair”.
In 2013, during the 12th campaign, while digging around the edge of the shaft curb, we found two other wooden figurines carved in a similar rough way, one with the name of Ahmose-sapair, written in hieratic over the chest (15.5 x 3 x 1 cm), and the other (16 x 2.5 x 3 cm) dedicated to a “prince” (sa-nesu), whose name, written on the right side, is hard to read, but could perfectly be Ahmose. This year we also found two other fragments of linen with an inscription in black ink, once again difficult to read, but that seem to mention Ahmose-sapair.
The material found bearing the name of Ahmose-sapair, the funerary figurines and the linen, suggest that his chapel and shaft might be very close, even within our archaeological concession. Considering where the objects were found, these could be associated with the mud-brick chapel and burial shaft located just ahead. Even if we assume that the objects were thrown out of their original location (due to looting in ancient times), and/or that they were votive objects offered after the burial (and therefore had not been part of the funerary equipment of the deceased), the number of inscribed objects found in such a small area allows us to think that Ahmose-sapair could have been buried in this area, and not at the other end of Dra Abu el-Naga, as all Egyptologists have assumed since Winlock published in 1924 an article in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology in which he located the royal tombs using as guide the “Abbott Papyrus”, which recounts the theft and subsequent inspection of tombs at Dra Abu el-Naga, in year 16 of Ramesses IX, ca. 1000 BC.
Ahmose-sapair is a “famous” as well as enigmatic character in the history of Egypt. He was a prince, probably the son and heir of the first king of the 18th Dynasty, Ahmose. He never came to reign, and died while still being a child, when he was more or less 5 years old. Actually, no one knows for sure who his father was, and his body has been identified with the incomplete and poorly bandaged remains of a child who was placed in a coffin of a later period (late 18th Dynasty), and of which only part of the name tag “[…] pai […]” remains. It was found in the “cachette” of Deir el-Bahari, where the 21st Dynasty priests of Amun moved the bodies of kings and members of the royal family to prevent looting. But what we do know is that, despite dying so young and not being able to reign, Ahmose-sapair received worship: offerings were made to him over the forthcoming years, inscriptions were devoted to him, and he was even included in the lists of important members of the royal family that were recorded five hundred years later.
The discovery, 8 m northwest, of a great pottery deposit with nearly 2,000 vessels, unearthed during the 2012 and 2013 campaigns, might be related to his later veneration and with the fact that his funerary monument became a sanctuary. The vessels were carefully placed on top of each other, covering an area larger than 8 x 4 m. The first analysis reveals that most of them belong to the late 17th and/or very early 18th Dynasty.
The discovery, during the second season (2003), of a fragment of alabaster with the name of King Ahmose within a royal cartouche, and the discovery of four pieces of clay with part of the imprint of the “seal of the necropolis”, used by the 21st Dynasty priests of Amun during their tomb inspections, might fit into this interpretative hypothesis. But these are only circumstantial evidence, and all they really prove is that the area we are excavating, Sector 10, was part of the royal cemetery of the 17th and early 18th Dynasty. Some of the burials are associated with King Ahmose, and they must have been important enough for the 21st Dynasty priests to carry out one or more interventions here. Hopefully, future excavations will provide relevant information, which will allow us to clarify these issues a little more.
The excavation of the interior of the burial shaft that opens up in front of the mud-brick chapel, next to which we found the material associated with Ahmose-sapair, has been postponed until the next campaign. This year we decided to continue digging around it. The shaft and the chapel are a meter away, and there we found a set comprising a bowl and four vessels of marl clay, with long and wavy necks and incised decoration, typical of the end of the 17th and early 18th Dynasty. Just 1.50 m away towards the southeast, we uncovered the mud-brick curb of a second funerary shaft, displaying conventional measures: 2.55 x 1 m. The average size of the mud-bricks is: 32.5 x 15 x 10 cm. Around this second shaft we gathered abundant pottery of the early 18th Dynasty, mainly red burnished round based slender bottles.
Taking into account the data collected by the excavations to date, it appears that in Sector 10 there have been no significant alterations from the Saite period onwards, ca. 650. BC., as no materials, nor Roman, nor Coptic, nor Islamic have been found. The most recent material is a large ovoid-bodied Saite storage jar. It was found broken in pieces, gathered at one end of the shaft opposite the mud-brick chapel, on a superficial level. This fits well with last year’s discovery, just three meters further north, of a mummification deposit, from the Saite period, consisting of a very similar storage jar and fourteen natron linen bags. The container jar found this year has been entirely recomposed thanks to the expertise of our pottery specialists. It is a peculiar object that displays on its outer surface an inscription written in hieratic, with large signs in black ink, but unfortunately too faint to allow reading.
The large pottery deposit, mentioned above, rests on a narrow layer, where the terrain is grayish due to the decomposition of plant remains and the soil that was inside the vessels. This layer rests, in turn, on a wider layer, the color being an intense white, due to the limestone within it, and is completely sterile. Therefore, we can say that we have identified the ground level at the end of the 17th and early 18th Dynasties, that is, around 1550 BC. The ground shows a slight incline, following the slope of the hill. In addition, the ground rises 2.5 meters above the level of Djehuty’s courtyard, which means that he dug his courtyard quite deep, leaving it partially recessed. That is why, the mud-brick side-walls that he built are 3 meters high on the inner side of the courtyard, but only 1 meter high on the outer side, as the floor remained 2 meters higher at both sides of the court.
INFANT BURIAL OF THE 17th DYNASTY
On January 26, at the east end of the pottery deposit, and at a slightly lower level on which the vessels rested, we found an anthropomorphic wooden coffin, which had been placed lying on the bedrock without any type of protection or funerary equipment. The coffin was left sideways, leaning on its left side. Although the sides are slightly curved, that must have been its original location and position, since a few mid-size stones were placed on the sides, allowing it to lean and maintain its position.
The coffin lid was carved in a somewhat rough way, following the well-known style of the rishi-coffins, with a fairly wide nemes-headdress covering the head and two sheets of cloth falling from the sides to cover the chest of the deceased completely. The rishi-coffins are characteristic of the 17th and very early 18th Dynasties, what perfectly corresponds with the stratigraphy. While rishi-coffins were painted with colors imitating feathers, this sample only got the first layer of white-wash and it offers no inscription, therefore the name of the owner remains unknown. The coffin measures 96 x 29 x 28.5 cm, it is therefore significantly smaller than normal. This lead to believe from the very beginning that it must have belonged to a child.
Inside the coffin, indeed, was the body of an infant wrapped in a shroud, tied over the head and around the ankles. The skeleton could be seen through the broken cloth, with barely any epithelial tissue. The series of x-rays applied on the mummy confirmed that it was an infant, who died at the age of 4 or so, but they were not able to specify the sex of the deceased, or to postulate a possible cause of death. The body had been placed sideways in the coffin, resting on its left shoulder, which is very unusual during the 17th Dynasty. That was probably due to the narrow inner coffin, about 20 cm wide, forcing the body to be placed sideways. Perhaps to compensate for this anomaly, the coffin was laid also on its side, so that the body of the child would end up resting on his/her back, as it should be. But the side of the coffin on which the child was lying was mistaken, and he/she ended up with his/her face to the ground, the opposite of what was intended.
At first, it seemed as if the coffin had been left abandoned, unprotected and without funerary equipment. But as the excavation continued in the surrounding area, it became clear that it was surrounded by other contemporary burials, in a densely occupied necropolis. Therefore, we must assume that the coffin was intentionally placed in that very location, accompanied by relevant personalities, some of them maybe even being members of the same family.
PRINCE INTEFMOSE, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 17th DYNASTY
Barely a meter away from the coffin of the child and just above this level, between the base of the ceramic deposit and the top of the coffin, we found five days before a sandstone fragment (59 x 54 x 13 cm). It displayed a scene carved within a register 21 cm high, over which there are traces of a molding, suggesting that the fragment must have been part of an architectural element, perhaps a lintel. The incision is very superficial and was carried out carelessly. The figure of a standing female deity is depicted in the center: she is wearing a vulture-shaped diadem; her right hand holds a was-scepter of “authority” to which, on its upper end, an ankh-sign “of life” has been attached, and in her left hand she is holding a second ankh-sign. The inscription accompanying the figure identifies it as “Hathor, Lady of the mountain of the necropolis”. In front of her, but now completely lost, should have been the figure of a man, standing with his arms raised in a praying position, with the inscription “[… performing a prayer to] Hathor, by Prince Intefmose”. A third figure of a man standing has been partially preserved behind the goddess. They are back to back, facing opposite sides, in a mirror composition, as he also holds in his left hand the was-scepter and in his right hand the ankh-sign. He is wearing the white crown and next to him was the beginning of the inscription that identifies him as king of Upper and Lower Egypt. Unfortunately, the stone is broken right where his name would have been carved.
Six days before finding this inscription of prince Intefmose, about five meters further south, we found a limestone stela (47 x 27 x 6 cm), the upper end being semicircular and with traces of a scene carved on one of its sides. The incision was very superficial and salts have eroded most of the surface, making reading difficult. Even so, we were able to distinguish the silhouette of two male figures standing, facing each other, with a text inscribed between them, identifying the right figure as “the prince Intefmose […]”. The other figure has his right hand raised, which seems to indicate that it is invoking an offering and/or a prayer, while the other figure, Intefmose, becomes then the recipient and beneficiary of such action.
If Prince Intefmose had been worshipped in a similar way to how it appears that Ahmose-sapair was, there is a possibility then that the large pottery deposit would be associated with his mud-brick chapel and tomb, as it is for the time being the nearest funerary complex, it is at the same level on the hill, and they are even within reach.
Although two inscriptions mentioning the prince Intefmose had been unearthed to the east and south of the pottery deposit, when excavating on the east we found a complex mud-brick structure, of considerable size. This was because there were at least three different structures, belonging to different periods, which overlap in a small space. The oldest structure is almost quadrangular (2.15 x 2.40 cm), with three sides just over a meter high and a fourth side that barely rises above ground level, serving as an entrance to an empty inner space (cf. the mud-brick chapel of Ahmose-sapair in the southern area of Sector 10). The floor of this structure is at the same level as the floor of the pottery deposit, so we can consider both to be contemporaries. The mud-bricks measure about 29 x 15 x 9 cm. The outer face of the walls still has plaster remains. The structure is oriented east-west and perfectly aligned with the shaft curb, which is located barely two meters further east. We must then assume they were part of the same complex, and that the mud-brick structure built next to the shaft must have served as an offering chapel.
The burial shaft curb (stratigraphic unit UE 110) was built with bricks measuring 35 x 18 x 9 cm, approximately, and the perimeter of the mouth measures 3.60 x 1.70 m on the outside, and 2.80 x 1.05 m inside. The mud-bricks go 1.60/1.80 m down the shaft, which reaches a total depth of 6.56 m. The filling of the shaft was formed by loose soil, gray, and rolled stones of considerable size and different materials belonging to a variety of periods: from 17th or early 18th Dynasty pottery to a fragment of fayence shabti from the Third Intermediate Period or even a Ptolemaic pottery shard. However, in the last meter or so of the shaft, the terrain becomes more whitish, there is an important increase in the number of small and medium limestone flakes, and a drastically reduction of materials.
At the bottom of the shaft we found a limestone block, a non-regular octagonal prism, 70 cm high and 16.5 cm at the base. It could have been part of a small obelisk that stood at the entrance of the chapel above. After the chapel had been damaged, the shaft emptied and the tomb looted, the broken obelisk would have fallen down the shaft. Two of its main sides are 11.6 cm wide, and have been carved in sunken relief. One retains the final part of an inscription with an invocation of offerings consisting of bread, beer, poultry, beef… and “linen, for the ka of prince Intefmose, justified”. On the opposite side, the figure of a standing man has been carved. He walks holding a high staff, wears a long skirt and decorates his chest with a broad collar. This is probably a “portrait” of Intefmose, although the inscription above the figure mentions at the end the name of a certain Neferhotep, who might have been the person that made the offering or gift, i.e. the donor of the obelisk.
The three inscriptions found allow us to formulate the hypothesis that this may be the tomb of prince Intefmose. Until recently we only knew this character through two objects with his name. Flinders Petrie found one in the winter of 1908-1909, near our site: it is a headless statue of a scribe, sitting with his legs crossed, and with an inscription on the kilt that identifies him as “the prince Intefmose, nicknamed Mestusheri”. Today this belongs to the Manchester Museum collection (inventory number 5051). The other object is a shabti, preserved today in the British Museum (EA 13329), and with an inscription that relates prince Intefmose with one of the first kings of the 17th Dynasty, called Sobekemsaf.
The entrance to the burial chamber (UE 111) occupies the entire width of the western side of the shaft, and would have had a height of 1.20 m, similar to the inside of the chamber (with the lintel broken, the entry now measures 1.70 m). Before crossing the threshold, we found the remains of a dismembered human mummy that had been wrapped in good quality cloth, well finished off in the edges and with fringes.
The burial chamber measures 2.70 x 1.75 m. The walls were not well finished. In the middle of the floor the rock has a recess that measures 2.45 x 0.85/0.95 m and 0.75 m deep (UE 112), the exact measurements to fit inside a wooden coffin. The coffin had disappeared, and the cavity was filled with loose and clean soil, clear in color. Not even a scrap of wood was found inside, but at the bottom laid the head of a statue of a man (23 x 24.5 x 16 cm), carved in limestone, and according to the size of the skull, ears and eyebrows it must have been a statue of high quality. There is a pillar on its back to record a vertical inscription, but it remained anepigraphic, so we are not sure it belonged to Intefmose. However, there is a possibility, yet to corroborate, that this may be the head of the headless scribe statue belonging to the prince Intefmose, coming from this area and now in Manchester.
THE MOUTHPIECE OF NEKHEN, AHHOTEP, OF THE 17th DYNASTY
The floor of the burial chamber, including the area to embed the coffin, was covered with about 40 cm of small limestone flakes and whitish soil, with hardly any material; the filling being similar to the last meter or so of the shaft. This layer was covered by a different one, 35 cm thick, consisting of gray earth, rolled stones, worn mud-bricks and small items of funerary equipment. This surface layer had entered into the burial chamber after it had been looted, utterly emptied (except for the limestone head of a male statue) and partially filled with flakes and soil that came from the shaft. The superficial layer, however, had entered into the burial chamber, not from the shaft, but through a 1 meter diameter hole, which was later opened at the rear wall and connects, by means of a ramp, with the burial chamber of another tomb (UE 113), located two meters above. Thus, the situation that we faced was, at first, difficult to understand, as inside one tomb remained part of the funerary equipment of another tomb not yet discovered, since, among other reasons, the hole was closed with linen cloths piled up for this purpose. One of these cloths still had a legible inscription with the title “overseer of the granary of Amun”, but not the owner’s name.
From inside the burial chamber we collected fifteen mud-bricks, seven of which could be associated with the mud-brick offering chapel above, as they measure 28/32 x 14/16 x 8/9 cm; the other four mud-bricks have similar dimensions to the mud-bricks found in the shaft curb, 36/38 x 17/20 x 9/12 cm, and the last four mud-bricks are larger, 44/42 x 20 x 12 cm, and could have been used to block the chamber. Inside, we found the upper half of a mummy of an adult woman who, considering the refined technique with which she had been mummified, might have lived and died during the 21st Dynasty (ca. 1000 BC). Among the funerary equipment found, the following objects deserve special mention: a set of fourteen knotted cloth bags containing natron; a hollow faience game ball, with alternating bands in two shades of blue; part of an ebony clapper in the shape of a hand and with the head of Hathor, goddess of music, carved in the wrist; part of an ebony furniture; a wooden false beard, which would have been part of the lid of a good quality coffin; part of a stuccoed wooden board with a hieratic text written on one side; well-preserved remains of reed mats; and a sandal (22 x 9 cm) made of braided plant fibers, with upturned tip, and in a remarkable state of conservation.
Certainly, the most significant set was formed by three clay shabtis, which were molded and painted in a mediocre and unskillful way, but the figures do display a fresh and spontaneous style, somewhat naïve, very unique and attractive. One of them (11 x 4 x 4 cm), found on the surface layer of the burial chamber, has a painted blue wig, yellow face framed in black and white body, as if it were a mummy. There is a vertical inscription on the chest and legs, “The osiris Ahhotep”, written inside a rectangle in black ink on yellow background. The figurine was inside a dark gray and lightweight sarcophagus made of baked clay (17 x 9.7 x 9 cm). There are traces of white paint inside the sarcophagus and a horizontal inscription that runs through the four sides and probably along the lid. The text begins with the offering formula, “a prerogative which the king gives…” and mentions his name, Ahhotep, this time, at least on one side, preceded by two titles, “Dignitary and mouthpiece of Nekhen”. These titles are frequent in the 17th and early 18th Dynasties, and relate to one of the most important sanctuaries in the south, closely linked to the nobility of Elkab.
The second shabti (11 x 5 x 4 cm) was found up the ramp that connects the two burial chambers. The wig and body are entirely painted in white, but the face was painted in yellow; there is a black ribbon on the forehead, and a yellow stain that extends irregularly over the chest and legs, over which there is an inscription “the osiris Ahhotep”, written in big signs. The facial features have hardly been molded, whereas the painted eyes are larger than normal. The clay sarcophagus that kept it is similar to the previous one, but larger (29 x 15 x 10 cm), the figurine being then too loose inside. An inscription runs horizontally over the four sides, and on one of them we can read: “(A prerogative that) the king grants and (also) Osiris, to give all sorts of right and pure offerings for the ka of the mouthpiece of Nekhen, Ahhotep”. The lid, which was found fallen and broken in the burial chamber below, also preserves traces of an inscription.
The third shabti (11.4 x 4 x 3.5 cm) was in the middle of the ramp, protected by a small recess in the rock wall. Unlike the other two, this shabti does not appear to have been deposited inside a sarcophagus; it was wrapped in nine small pieces of linen (8/12 x 10/16 cm) with well-topped edges, one with a fringe (as the big fabrics were tailored). With the help of ultraviolet light, we were able to see that all of them were written with the same thick ink as in the sarcophagi, mentioning his name and titles: “The Dignitary and mouthpiece of Nekhen, Ahhotep, justified”. As in all other cases, the sign of the moon used to write his name, has been written upwards, which is typical of the 17th Dynasty. But as a novelty, in the fabrics his name is followed by the epithet “justified” and, furthermore, his name has been completed with the semantic determinative of man, which is significant because Ahhotep was a name more common among women than among men. The figurine is painted entirely in white except for the yellow face, outlined with a black line, and the wig has been decorated with a grid drawn on the flat top. The inscription was written directly on the white background and in a very original way, in three columns that can be read the same way from left to right or vice versa, as in the middle column we find his titles, “The osiris, mouthpiece of Nekhen” and on both sides we find his name written the same way, “Ahhotep”.
The three shabtis of Ahhotep of the 17th Dynasty, two of them with their sarcophagi and a third wrapped in linen bandages, constitute an exceptional set, that is worthy of being in the most important museums with Egyptian collections. This type of shabtis connects with previous examples of models or small-scale replicas of the mummified deceased belonging to the 12th Dynasty (ca. 2000 BC), as for example, those found in the excavations of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the tomb of princess Neferure, next to the temple of King Montuhotep at Deir el-Bahari.
The scattering of the objects found seems to indicate that most of the funerary equipment came from the burial chamber located above (UE 113), which belonged to the mouthpiece of Nekhen, Ahhotep. The chamber is very small and measures 2.80 x 1 x 0.80 m, just enough to push inside a coffin and a limited funerary equipment. The walls were never smoothened, and the innermost half of the room now has no floor, but a hole that opens to the ramp and leads to the burial chamber of Intefmose. There is also another hole (50 x 75 cm) that connects to a third burial chamber (UE 114), which goes through the thin wall of about 25 cm thick that separates both chambers. We have still not revealed the entrance to either descending shafts that lead to these two burial chambers, as they have not yet been excavated.
What can be seen of the third burial chamber (UE 114) through the hole is that it is partially filled with soil and stones, some of considerable size, with a complete large bowl lying backwards on the surface and, next to it, the face of the lid of a wooden coffin probably dating to the Late Period.
The offering chapel of prince Intefmose was later reused and integrated into another architectural structure that overlaps. But before that happened, the mud-brick wall that closes the courtyard of a tomb, probably from the late 18th or 19th Dynasty, touches tangentially its western corner. The façade of this tomb still remains buried, but we exposed the threshold of the entrance to the courtyard. Among the mud-bricks fallen near the entrance, we found a set of thirteen small linen tissues, all with an informative label written in hieratic, in black ink, but its reading requires further study.
SECTOR ABOVE THE TOMB-CHAPELS TT 11-12
Twenty-five meters further north, on the third level of tombs located at the slope of the hill, we exposed, at the end of the campaign, a section of the mud-brick wall that would enclose the courtyard of a tomb located just above the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11). The layout displays recesses or niches, imitating the design followed by “palace” façades. The mud-bricks have an average size of 36 x 16 x 12 cm. In one of them it is clearly legible the impression of a quite big quadrangular seal (11 x 5 cm). It identifies the owner as “the royal scribe, Djehutynefer, justified”. This person is probably the owner of a tomb, visited by Richard Lepsius in 1845, in Dra Abu el- Naga, and recently labeled as “A6” (PM, I (1), 449). Lise Manniche, in her catalogue of lost tombs (1988, 88-90) discusses the evidence on this tomb and its owner, Djehutynefer, who would have held the position of “scribe and accountant of the livestock and poultry of the temple of Amun” and/or “overseer of the peasants”, during the reign of Thutmose III, ca. 1450. C., about twenty years after Djehuty.
We found and excavated, also on the third “floor” of the tombs, over the funerary monument of Djehuty, but about nine meters northeast, a burial shaft cut into the rock, the mouth being larger than usual, 3.30 x 1.85 m, and 4.10 m deep. The entrance into a burial chamber was located on the side of the hill (i.e. west); it is partially filled with debris and leads to and crosses through a tomb on the second “floor”. The entrance to this tomb has not yet been located, so we decided not to continue with the excavation.
The progress of the excavation in the sector over the tombs has allowed us, this year, to completely disassemble the metal structure that was built in 2004-2005 to reach, from outside, the ceiling of the innermost chamber of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty and solve the problem of falling debris inside. In turn, we can now easily access the Ramesside chapel (see below), which is located on the third “floor” above the intermediate tomb (-399-), as the ground level is now almost at the same level as the floor of the chapel.
SECTOR 30, OVER THE COURTYARD OF THE TOMB-CHAPEL OF AY
During the 2012 campaign we exposed the façade of the tomb-chapel of Ay, “overseer of the weavers”, at the end of the 18th Dynasty. It was located northeast of the courtyard of the funerary monument of Baki. We were able to identify the owner through the large number of funerary cones, 66 in total and 5 imprint mud-bricks, that were found fallen on the floor of the entrance. While excavating the interior we found abundant material from Roman times, both pottery and oil lamps.
This year, 2013, we excavated the outer area, the area that would occupy the courtyard, and we also found here mainly material from the Greco-Roman era, especially abundant fragments of amphorae and also eight fragments of large vessels decorated with floral motifs. Moreover, the remnants of ibis mummies or burned hawks also appeared, as well as the remains of straw cribs. The depth of the soil accumulated over the courtyard area was 2.40 m approximately. At the end of the campaign we had dug between one and two meters deep, leaving the level of most of the area 1.20 m above the floor of the courtyard of Ay. While on a superficial level the material appeared to be mixed up, modern and ancient objects all together, as we descended the quality of the material grew. In the end, we gathered six complete oil lamps and 7 halves. We also found 12 funerary cones belonging to Ay, and at least 4 cones of the lady of the house, It (ef), who was probably the wife of Baki, “Overseer of the cattle of Amun” and owner of the tomb attached to the southwest of Ay’s monument.
Attached to the northwest of the façade of the tomb-chapel of Ay, we exposed the top of the façade of a new tomb. Several rows of mud-bricks have been preserved above the façade, which measures 5.90 m wide. Towards the center there is an opened doorway, 1.10 m wide. The name of the owner and the date remain unknown. Some time later, there was a second entrance opened in the façade, and small walls of mud-brick were attached to it, but its function still has to be elucidated.
ANIMAL MUMMIES IN THE BURIAL CHAMBER OF DJEHUTY
During the 2011 campaign we discovered the existence of a funerary shaft at the rear of the innermost room of the tomb-chapel of Hery (TT 12). In 2012 we dug the shaft, which measured 2.40 x 1.10 m, and turned out to be 7.50 m deep. At the east end the entrance to a chamber was partially closed by rows of mud-bricks. The interior had the walls and ceiling entirely blackened by one or more fires that had been burnt there, and contained numerous bird bones scattered all over the floor and mud-bricks that had been used to close the entrance.
Another chamber opened up at the west end of the shaft; it was partially closed by four rows of regular sized mud-bricks, which measured 33 x 16 x 8.5 cm., and probably dated to the end of the 18th Dynasty and were reused during the 2nd century BC. Since there are still remains of mortar in the inner side of the low mud-brick closing wall, it seems as if the entry had been blocked from the inside. The chamber is quite big, 3 x 6.5 m approximately, and the walls and the ceiling are also blackened. A hole is clearly visible in one of the corners; it probably communicates with the burial shaft of the adjoining tomb, number -399-, which explains how the entrance could have been closed from inside. Unlike the other chamber, this one was filled almost to the ceiling with well wrapped and knotted linen packages, some burned and others not, allegedly containing animal remains, mainly ibis mummies. The number of animal mummies could easily exceed one thousand.
In this 2013 campaign, we began a systematic study of the animal mummies, proceeding with the extraction, description, inventory, photography and x-rays. After twelve days of work we completed the extraction of 61 mummies and x-rayed a selection of 25 specimens. We started of by removing the packages that were closer to the entrance. While conical packages seem to contain the complete or nearly complete skeleton of an ibis, in relatively good condition, quadrangular packages seem to contain an amorphous mass of bird bones. The blackened appearance of some of the packages is not due to their exposure to fire, but a consequence of the treatment with oils and resins that were applied directly to the mummies before being wrapped.
The desiccated and standing body of a dog was intentionally placed at the entrance of the chamber, as if it was guarding the access. This custom of placing a person or an animal as if it were acting as a lookout of a burial, either a shaft or a gallery, has been confirmed elsewhere, in the tombs reused, in the mid-2nd century BC. The specimens already studied were well wrapped and stored in metal and wooden shelves, that were custom-built and placed in the innermost room of the tomb-chapel of Hery, next to the shaft. We will continue to study them in the next season.
The main epigraphic tasks were conducted in the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (TT 11). On the one hand, we have continued to study, register and make the inventory of the blocks with traces of inscription or relief unearthed during the excavation. In some cases, we have been able to identify the exact place of origin on the wall, and we have developed a file with all the necessary information so the restorers can place the block back in its spot, when carrying out the restoration of that part of the wall.
On the other hand, this year we have started working with the fragments that still have traces of inscriptions and we recovered during the excavation of the burial chamber of Djehuty. There are about five hundred fragments that vary greatly in size, in the amount of text they contain and in the state of conservation. Some are large and heavy stone blocks, while others are simple pieces of a thin layer of stucco. Despite the difficulties and complexity of the work, we have been able put together about fifty pieces, and we have even identified new chapters of the Book of the Dead that had been written on the two missing walls, those that were chiseled to enlarge the chamber. It is important to mention that certain passages from Chapter 153 were identified, as Djehuty’s version of the Book of the Dead is one of the oldest examples that include this chapter.
The graffiti written in demotic script, using red ink, on the walls of the monuments of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12), and also in some of the galleries that were opened from the tombs in the mid-2nd century BC, are now being photographed, copied and studied. As the process of cleaning the walls of the monuments progresses, the number of graffiti increases and reading becomes easier.
Since the project began, twelve years ago, the rule has been for the architects to use a Total Station to survey a topographic map that includes new architectural structures unearthed during the excavation, meaning those built with mud-bricks as well as those cut in the rock of the hill. Furthermore, they have been taking the coordinates of the main findings, in order to make a scattering map of the materials and associate them with each other and with architectural structures of the sector.
The restoration team consists of three Spanish and three Egyptian professionals. They have worked in three places and carried out three very different interventions: on the inner walls of the funerary monument of Djehuty (TT 11), in the Ramesside chapel we found several years ago over the tomb-chapel of Hery (TT 12) and, thirdly, in the most significant objects found during the excavation conducted this season and in previous years.
Inside the tomb-chapel of Djehuty, the restorers have focused on the cleaning and consolidation of the right wall of the central corridor. Most of the work has been performed mechanically, gradually removing clay concretions that were attached to the surface of the wall, with cotton moistened in alcohol and a scalpel. But after several tests and making sure it was harmless as well as effective, we also made use of a vibrating cutter with ultrasound for cleaning and removing mud (it operates in connection with an air compressor). Many graffiti in red ink, written in demotic, from the 2nd century BC have seen the light, after removing the layer of mud from the wall, over the relief scenes. The graffiti were then consolidated with Paraloid lowered with acetone.
We have also positioned and secured in place half a dozen fragments that had been detached from the walls naturally and were recovered in the excavation outside, over the courtyard. Thanks to the close collaboration between epigraphers and restorers, we are repairing the walls and thus, completing the inscriptions and relief scenes that decorate them.
In close collaboration, this time between restorers and architects, we have carried out and completed the installation of a false ceiling of iron in the innermost room of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty. The ceiling in this room was completely broken, with two big holes on the sides, which communicate with two tomb-chapels located half a meter above in the slope of the hill. We decided to take advantage of this situation and placed two iron beams from side to side across the room, supporting them on the sidewalls. From these two strong beams we welded and hung an iron bar “skeleton”, cut to size, and covering the entire area of the room. And from the bars, we soldered and hung a mesh of iron. The latter two structures are divided into four sections, which can descend and ascend again independently by a pulley system. This design will allow us, in the unlikely event that a block of stone might fall from the ceiling, to remove it easily (by lowering the section where the stone fell), and restore the roof (ascending the section again) now without the stone. The system is not designed to prevent the rocks from falling: the team of geologists estimates that this is virtually impossible due to the unpredictable behavior of the rock of the hill, but it is designed to prevent the fallen stones from causing any personal or material damage, and then be able to remove it with relative ease.
Taking advantage of the installation of the false iron ceiling, we set up, along the entire perimeter, tubes of small LED bulbs to illuminate the wall reliefs from top to bottom; the lights will not be visible or bother on the floor, which is a novelty in the lighting of pharaonic tombs. The effect is wonderful, and the reliefs can now be appreciated as if they were on display in a museum. We also closed the entrance of the funerary shaft that opens on one side of the room with an iron structure, which has a flap at one end to be able to go up and down using the metal ladder installed.
In the course of this campaign we have cleaned and consolidated the decoration painted over mortar that decorates the walls of a small quadrangular room, which measures 2.00 m long and 1.60 m high, and which is located on the third “floor” over the tomb-chapel of Hery (TT 12). The decoration is the clue to know that the chapel belonged to an “overseer of weavers” named Ramose, who probably lived in the times of King Ramesses II, ca. 1200 BC. Aside from a funerary scene, presided by Osiris and the goddess Isis, and the classic river pilgrimage to Abydos, there is a peculiar, textile-making scene, with naked children manipulating the looms. Until now only three tombs were known to have this type of scene. The mortar on which the paint was applied had a high percentage of straw and was also in many points semi-detached from the wall, so we had to reinforce and mend the surface first, and then clean and fix the colors of the scene.
We would like to highlight the work that we have completed with the objects found during the excavation: cleaning, consolidation, wrapping and storage in stable, favorable conditions for preservation. We have taken special care with the inscribed fabrics, the wooden figurines and the pottery vessels of special value. Furthermore, we reassembled and restored a marl clay jug with painted decoration of Minoan influence, dated to the early 18th Dynasty, ca. 1500 BC, which we found in one of the chambers of the burial shaft that opens at the entrance of the intermediate tomb (-399-), during the 2006 campaign.
Finally, we would like to emphasize that during this year’s campaign we set up in the Luxor Museum a special showcase to protect and exhibit eight of the fifty bouquets of dried flowers that were found while excavating the courtyard of the funerary monument of Djehuty. With the bouquets we also exhibited one of the fifty vessels, which helps to date the collection in the 21st Dynasty. Therefore, there are now five sets of pieces in exhibition in the Luxor Museum that have come from our excavation: the painted coffin, pottery, bows and arrows of Iqer (ca. 2000 BC); the “Apprentice’s Board” (ca. 1470 BC); the gold earrings found at the entrance of the burial chamber of Djehuty (ca. 1470 BC), a linen cloth with an inscription dating its production to year 2 of Amenhotep II (ca. 1450 BC), and now the bouquets, dated to 1000 BC. Undoubtedly, the permanent exhibition in the magnificent Luxor Museum of five of our most significant findings is an outstanding achievement, of which we can all be very proud.