Report Campaign 2014
13th Season Report: January 13th – February 23th
The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo has been extremely helpful in every way, and we are most grateful to the Minister of State Antiquities, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, and to Dr. Mohamed Ismail, Director of Permanent Committee and Foreign Missions Affairs. In Luxor, as it has happened every year, the authorities responsible of the Supreme Council of Antiquities have been most helpful, in particular Abdel Hakim Karrar, General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt; and Dr. Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Director of the Antiquities Department in the West Bank.
This season we have had Mohamed Khalil as SCA Inspector. He has been most helpful and cooperative.
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.
We have employed about 110 workmen. They have all worked very hard and with great care, and we are more than satisfied with their job.
Two Egyptian restorers have joined the team this season: Mohamed Ahmed Salam and Saadi Zaki. They are excellent professionals, and have been most helpful and efficient. They have been engaged in the cleaning of the walls of the central corridor and the inner most chamber of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel (TT 11), carefully removing the mud crust from the surface, consolidating the colors and demotic graffiti preserved on them, and placing back in their original spot the blocks that had fall down and were found in the excavation of the courtyard.
The project is based at the Center for Humanities and Social Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council, in Madrid. The field season has been sponsored by Union Fenosa Gas (UFG), a Spanish gas company whose main activity is based in Damietta, with the collaboration of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.
A Spanish mission has been working since January 2002 at the foothill of the central area of Dra Abu el-Naga, in the area where the rock-cut tomb-chapels of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12) are located. Hery must have lived under King Ahmose and Amenhotep I, acting as overseer of the granaries of the king’s mother and royal wife Ahhotep. He could have been related to the royal family through his mother, Ahmes, who is referred to as «adornment of the king.» The inner walls of his funerary monument (c. 1510 BC) were entirely decorated in high quality relief. Djehuty lived about fifty years later, acting as overseer of the treasure and overseer of the works carried out by the craftsmen and metal workers for Queen Hatshepsut. The walls of his tomb-chapel (c. 1460 BC) were also decorated in relief, even the façade and part of the left sidewall of the open courtyard.
The courtyard of Djehuty’s monument is larger than expected, extending the rock-cut sidewalls with mud-bricks that reach 3 m high near the façade and end 34 m away from it in two ‘pylons’ 0.68 m high. At mid distance from the façade, the left sidewall makes an abrupt twist towards the inside, i.e., to the right. This unorthodox and unaesthetic feature was due to the presence of a mud-brick structure, which was considered significant enough to avoid running over it or being dismantled by Djehuty’s workmen.
When the modern village of Dra Abu el-Naga was entirely demolished in the winter of 2006/07 and its people relocated in New Gurna, the Spanish mission applied to the Supreme Council of Antiquities for an extension of the site to the left/southwest of Djehuty’s courtyard. Once the debris was removed and the area cleared, in January 2011 excavations commenced in the area, which was labelled ‘Sector 10’. The following seasons unearthed, three metres below the ground level of the modern houses, a number of Seventeenth Dynasty burials (c. 1650-1550 BC) consisting of funerary shafts and offering mud-brick chapels, but also coffins placed unprotected on the ground and ensembles of votive pottery vassels. The discovery of part of the necropolis used by the royal family and courtiers of the Seventeenth Dynasty helps to understand the possible reasons behind Djehuty’s choice of this particular spot for building his tomb-chapel, more than five hundred metres away from most of his colleagues, high officials of Hatshepsut-Thutmoses III’s administration, who were buried south of Deir el-Bahari, between el-Asasif plain and the hillside of Sheikh Abd el-Gurna.
FUNERARY SHAFT UE 1010
The small mud-brick structure that caused the deviation of the side-wall of the open courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel ended up being a landmark and offering chapel on behalf of the person(s) buried down the funerary shaft that opens right in front of it, one meter to the southwest. The shaft was robbed in antiquity and, consequently, some of the material associated with its owner was found thrown inside the chapel and around the shaft’s curb, but also at its bottom end. The inscribed objects, six stick-shabtis and two linen cloths, bear the name Ahmose/Ahmose-Sapair. One of the stick-shabtis was found this season at the bottom of the shaft, with the name Ahmose written on the torso and legs in big signs (it is not clear if there were a couple more signs written at the bottom). The name, unlike in the other occasions, is exceptionally written with the moon-sign facing up, and it is preceded by a schematic striding male figure holding a staff on one hand, probably the logogram for wr/sr, «official», «noble», «chief» or «courtier».
There seems to be enough circumstantial evidence to argue that this funerary complex belonged to Ahmose-Sapair. However, one has to be extra-cautious and refrain from concluding that the objects found were part of the funerary equipment of the revered prince Ahmose-Sapair, wherever his tomb may be.
The curb of the shaft was built with mud-bricks until reaching the bedrock, 1.90 m down. It looks as if the robbers rebuilt carelessly the higher layers of the curb to stop the sand from falling inside. The Saite Period pottery found at the top may indicate the date of the looting. The shaft’s mouth measures 2.54 x 0.82 m, and it is 5.70 m deep. At the bottom there is a small burial chamber, which opens at the eastern end, lying right below the mud-brick offering chapel. The burial chamber measures 2.55 x 1.50 m, and it is about 1.20 m high. It was well cut, but the walls were left rough.
Human remains, assorted commingled skeletal remains partly wrapped in linen, were found scattered at the bottom of the shaft and inside the burial chamber. There was some immature material, with the most common element being the maxilla. Based on dental development and substantiated with metric data on other available elements, there appear to be remains of one newborn, one child of 2-3 years and a slightly older child of about 4 years. The adult material is more abundant and better preserved, but there is very little from the upper body or head. There is a single adult cranium with no facial bones (probably female), plus some maxillary fragments. The most frequently occurring element is the left femur, of which there are five. Pelvic material gives ages and sexes of one adult male of 35-39 years and one adult female also of 35-39 years. Some of the postcranial elements are osteoporotic and consistent with an old adult female, including a left pubic symphysis. Other than the osteoporosis, the only pathologies noted were cribra orbitalia in the older child’s right orbit and generally sickly bone of the newborn.
A side of the stick-shabti mentioned above, a few more objects of the original funerary equipment were found: a bronze knife/razor, a wooden comb, two mirror handles, arrows, ivory square plaques from a game box, lentil and tubular faience beads 4 cm long, part of a vegetative garland, a Kerma bowl and a large red Nile-silt vase with a geometrical motif band painted in black on its neck. A limestone relief fragment, 24 x 14.5 x 8 cm, still preserving part of the original polychromy, shows three men in procession, identified as the «followers of the king» Djehutyhotep, Wadjmose and Amundediu. It is noticeable how their skirts’ length is progressively shortened.
FUNERARY SHAFT UE 1005
The funerary shaft located two metres to the southeast was also plundered in antiquity, and it may be assumed that the pottery found around it, dating to the Seventeenth/early Eighteenth Dynasty, was once deposited down the shaft. Its mouth measures 2.46 x 0.85. The curb was built with mud-bricks, descending until reaching the bedrock. The shaft is 5.50 m deep, with two confronted burial chambers, one at each end. The western one is 0.80 above the bottom, and measures 2.80 x 1.50. It is 1.60 m high, but it was left unfinished and the inner half is only 1.10 m high. At its entrance, a steatite scarab was found, bearing the inscription «Son of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt.» At the rear end of the chamber, a few complete pottery vessels were found, together with fragments of a painted coffin, a small basket and an adult’s skull.
The eastern burial chamber is only 0.30 m above the bottom of the shaft. It measures 2.75 x 1.70 m, and is 1.30 m. high. The chamber’s floor was covered with dismembered human remains, including five skulls, partially wrapped in linen. Among them, at the rear end of the chamber, an inkpot with its pen and a string tied up to it, and a kohl calcite vase with its eyeliner were found. The southern wall of the chamber makes an angle where the stonecutters broke into another tomb only 0.25 m. to its south. The hole that was accidentally opened measures 0.60 x 0.50 m., and through it one can access to a huge underground gallery.
ELEVEN DYNASTY ROCK-CUT TOMB UE 1008
From the size and layout of the gallery it becomes clear that it is an Eleventh Dynasty rock-cut tomb, which probably belonged to a member of the royal family or a very high courtier. It is very similar in shape to some of the tombs excavated by Howard Carter in the area called el-Birabi, and in the 70’s by Dieter Arnold in el-Tarif. The entrance cannot be spotted from inside, due to the debris that reach up to the ceiling, and from outside it still remains 2/3 meters underground. The corridor is very well cut, it measures 2 m high and 2 m wide, and it is at least 20 m long. It makes a 50 degrees turn to descend as a slopping passage of almost 20 m long, passing through an antechamber and finally reaching a well cut, squared burial chamber, full of stone blocks.
The floor of the corridor and of the slopping passage is covered with scattered and dismembered human remains, partly wrapped in linen. The pottery lying on the surface dates to the Seventeenth/early Eighteenth Dynasty, what seems to indicate that the tomb was reused then; a phenomenon attested also in other Eleventh/Twelfth Dynasty rock-cut tombs.
Five years ago, the Spanish mission discovered a humble but intact Eleventh Dynasty burial, including a beautiful rectangular coffin painted in red and with a polychrome inscription, with bows and staves placed over the mummy and a bunch of arrows next to it. The ensemble is now on display in Luxor Museum. This new find underlines the presence of relevant Eleventh Dynasty tombs in Dra Abu el-Naga. It also helps to better understand the location of the Seventeenth/early Eighteenth rock-cut tombs.
THE FUNERARY SHAFT UE 1007
The mouth of another funerary shaft was brought to light 10 m to the southwest of Djehuty’s open courtyard. Its curb is made of solid mud-bricks (29 x 15 x 10 cm), joined by a layer of whitish and dense mortar. It measures 3.05 x 1.60 m and the gap 2.60 x 0.95 m. Its northern end is built-in the gebel, which has been cut down 0.45 m, and filled in with a row of mud-bricks laid longwise. The southern end is twice as thick and the mud-bricks go down 0.98 m until reaching the bedrock. The mud-bricks are coated with a layer of fine plaster and whitewash at the inner face of the four sides. The junction of the plastered mud-bricks with the slopping bedrock is very carefully done. The rock-cut walls were left rough and on the west side there are three holes still visible, separated from each other half a metre to help climbing up and down the shaft.
The east side of the curb is partly broken and some of the missing mud-bricks were found inside, 0.30 m deep. The shaft was at that moment only partly filled and its upper part remained opened for some time. At this upper layer, a lock of hair with a string tied up was found, probably to be used as an extension.
At a depth of 1.80 m there is a new layer of fallen mud-bricks, and at 2.55 m the middle section of a much eroded moulded pottery shabti was found. It can be dated to the Third Intermediate Period, probably to the Twenty-first Dynasty. Following down, at a depth of 3.20 m, the left half of a wooden statuette was found. It is a kneeling feminine figure, probably Isis or Nepthys, in a mourning posture, sitting back on her heels and with her articulated arms bent forward. Her hair is covered by a soft bag-like khat-kerchief, with a short tail hanging at the back. The carving seems to be of good quality, coated by a whitewash, and with traces of golden foil on her face, ear and neck. The outline of her dress is traced in red. It seems reasonable to date it to the Third Intermediate Period, which fits well with the date of the shabti fragment found above. These two objects seem to indicate that the shaft was cleared and refilled in the Twenty-first Dynasty or slightly later.
The shaft ended up measuring 3.80 m deep, and the floor is slightly pitched towards the southern end, where the burial chamber is located. Its entrance is 1.35 m tall and it takes up the whole width of the shaft. It was found closed to the top with mud-bricks, some of them half broken and carelessly piled up without mortar, but with mid-size stones and rubble between them. The average size of the mud-bricks is 33/31 x 15 x 9/7 cm.
When approximately half of the closing wall of the burial chamber was removed, an inscribed limestone fragment, measuring 28 x 28 x 12 cm, was found. It seems to be the upper right corner of an architectural structure carved on both sides. The inscription runs along one of the sides of the lintel and of the jamb(s) framing a small arch. The signs are incised and filled with a blue/green paste. The lines framing the text are coloured in red. The preserved text says: «[…] Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, lord of Abydos, may he give incense and ointments, and all kind of proper and pure things [on which a god] lives […].» The paleography seems to be characteristic of the Seventeenth Dynasty.
The limestone block was placed horizontally and used as part of the base for the closing wall, as it was resting over the gravel that formed the lower stratum of the shaft and that slid inside the burial chamber, filling half of it. Thus, the closing wall was not built starting from the bottom of the shaft, but on top of half a meter of debris, indicating (a) that the shaft was not completely cleared then, and (b) that the closing wall was not part of the first burial, but of a later re-use of the shaft. When did the later closing happened? According to the findings of the shaft, it seems reasonable to date the re-burial in the Third Intermediate Period.
The burial chamber measures 2.80 x 1.40 m. The back wall was smoothen, while the side-walls and the ceiling were left rough, the latter even being slightly vaulted. The floor of the whole chamber was cut down 0.50 m. Near the entrance, the chamber is 1.85 m high, while at its rear end it is only 1.40 m, due to the sloping down of the ceiling. It seems that the purpose of the half-meter-floor’s recess would have been to place the coffin on a lower level so that only the lid would remain visible, integrated into the chamber’s floor level.
The whitish gravel that slid from the shaft inside the burial chamber covered the entire area, sloping down inwards. It contained a number of broken mud-bricks, probably resulting from breaking the original closing of the chamber. The upper stratum contained two sandstone fragments coming from the same piece and preserving part of an incised relief scene, coloured in blue/green, depicting a conical Upper Egyptian crown with uraeus and part of the forehead of the king who is wearing it. The cartouche with the royal name identifying him is inscribed on one of the fragments, surmounted by what looks like part of the royal epithet ntr-nfr, «the good god.» Inside the cartouche, the signs ra and nb are clearly visible, but a third sign can only be guessed. The most plausible option is to read it as hpt, making up the name nb-hpt-ra, the throne name of King Montuhotep II. The earliest extensive use of sandstone in Thebes, mainly coming from the area of Gebel es-Silsilah and Shat er-Rigal, is associated with the second half of the Eleventh Dynasty, when Thebes became the royal residence under Montuhotep II. Thus, this inscribed fragment, together with the numerous sandstone blocks and fragments found inside and around the shaft, may indicate that there was a relevant, maybe royal, monument in this area of Dra Abu el-Naga built under King Montuhotep II.
Along the middle of the chamber, a well preserved and still closed rishi-coffin was found with its head to the entrance and resting on top of the debris. It was pushed inside without caring if the chamber was partially filled with rubble and mixed up material. However, it was done quite carefully, since the wood carving of the face and the colourful painting of the lid did not suffer much. There was not a single modest piece of funerary equipment accompanying the coffin. This unusual circumstance, together with the fact that the coffin was left resting on top of the debris coming in from the shaft, seems to indicate that it is not the original burial, but a later re-burial. It matches the evidence indicating that the shaft had been cleared and filled again, and that the entrance had been opened and closed back probably in the Third Intermediate Period, as mentioned above.
The coffin’s original burial place is unknown, although one may assume that it would have been located in this area of Dra Abu el-Naga (if not in this same shaft). The circumstances around its removal and re-burial in the shaft where it was found are difficult to grasp. If the re-burial did take place in the Third Intermediate Period, it might be associated with the inspection of the necropolis by the priests of Amun at the end of the Twentieth Dynasty, and with the later safeguarding and relocation of coffins under the Twenty-first or Twenty-second Dynasty.
THE RISHI-COFFIN OF NEB
The coffin measures 2.00 x 0.50 x 0.41 m. The box is made of a single log of sycamore, leaving a hollow space of 1.84 x 0.42 (shoulders)/ 0.30 cm (foot). The outer side of the box, including its ends and base, was coated with a thin layer of fine, whitish mortar, and then completely painted in black. The visible top of the box’s thickness has traces of red paint, and three pierced tenons inserted at each side to fix the lid to the box by fitting them into sockets and passing acacia dowels through them. The inside of both box and lid were left rough and undecorated.
The lid is anthropoid in shape, representing the deceased mummified, with the legs and feet, arms and hands wrapped together with the body, leaving only the face visible. It was carved out of a single log of sycamore, except for the prominent foot and head ends, which were carved separately and joined to the lid by a fine, whitish mortar. The entire face, including the ears, lips and a pointing nose, were molded in very fine gypsum(?) mortar. The skin is pale yellow and the eyes are painted (not inlaid) as if they were glazed. The extension of the eyes’ line, the eyebrows and the band between the forehead and the headdress that probably alludes to the hair, and which continues along and below the chin, are all painted in green/blue.
The outer side of the lid was also coated with a thin layer of fine, whitish mortar, over which the polychrome decoration was applied. The headdress consists of a round-top feathered headcloth, with three horizontal stripes at both sides of the neck. Two lappets hang down over the chest, decorated with a peculiar geometrical pattern in dark yellow that seems to imitate a mat. The upper half of the body’s torso is adorned by an usekh-collar. On both shoulders there is a schematic and awkward depiction of a hawk’s head or Eye of Horus, acting as the finials of the collar.
From the top of the head down to the soles of the feet the lid’s decoration imitates feathers, with a pair of wings stretched along the sides. Over a pale yellow background, three types of feathers overlap, weaving a dense plumage. At the level of the ankles, there is an area not covered by the wings, where the decoration pretends to show the coffin’s wood through red lines describing concentric circles, over which there is a painted image of a net of faience beads.
Running down the axis of the lid’s lower half, over of the legs and overlapping the other decorative motifs, is a bright yellow column with a vertical inscription. The hieroglyphs are fully coloured in light green. Because the signs were written with a thick painter’s brush, some of them seem carelessly traced and adopt peculiar shapes. They do not stand out much from the background because they were not outlined in black. The inscription, as expected, consists of a brief offering formula.
«A boon that the king grants, and (also) Osiris lord of Abydos, may he give an invocation offering of unguents and incense, beef and fowl, alabaster and linen, unguents and incense, every offering of provisions and everything proper and pure on which a god lives, (for) the ka of the osiris Neb.»
The text and decoration of Neb’s coffin has a number of common features with the rishi-coffin of «Teti, commander of the ruler’s crew,» found at an uncertain date and location in Dra Abu el-Naga, and kept in the Cairo Museum since 1913 (TR 220.127.116.11), and also with the rishi-coffin found in Dra Abu el-Naga north by Luigi Vassalli, in December 23rd 1862, numbered 71. In turn, these three private coffins can be related to the rishi-coffin of King Nubkheperra Intef, found at Dra Abu el-Naga by Giovanni d’Athanasi in 1827, and now kept in the British Museum (EA 6652). The similarities on the decorative composition of this group of rishi-coffins can be used to date them all to the first phase of the late Seventeenth Dynasty. It is of significance that Neb’s coffin was found 110 m southwest from the base of the pyramid of King Nubkheperra Intef.
THE MUMMY OF NEB
Neb has been jostled about in his coffin and is lying slightly on his left side with the left leg slightly flexed and the head almost resting on the left shoulder. A badly decomposing light beige linen shroud with a fringe at its ends covers the body, secured by knots at the shins. Beneath are brown bandages that are wrapped spirally around each limb. It is unclear if the colour is due to the application of oils/resins or if the linen was darker. Over the bandages ties of the same material seem to secure the legs at the knees and ankles. There are surprisingly few layers of bandages, perhaps only four, under the shroud. The flesh is not preserved and the bones are relatively clean; they are in roughly the correct anatomical position, albeit loose. It is possible that no evisceration took place, although this is difficult to determine, given the state of preservation of the body. Some sort of oils/resins were used in the preservation of the body, as attested by staining and scent.
The mummy, as it is lying today, is 1.65 m tall. The skull and sacrum are definitely male. Antemortem tooth loss, especially in mandibular molars plus notable wear on remaining dentition suggests middle age, somewhere in his mid-to late forties. Some of his vertebrae seem asymmetrical. Two of his lumbar vertebrae (L2 and L3) are fusing along the left side, with marked exostoses (bony outgrowths) and bridging, which suggests again someone no longer young. He has no bony outgrowths on his calcanei or distal tibiae and fibulae that would suggest a hard life with much weight-bearing walking.
THE BURIAL OF AN ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY
Only 37 cm above the curb of Neb’s funerary shaft, and about the same distance from its north-western corner, an anthropoid wooden coffin was found lying on the ground without any kind of protection covering it, and without a single piece of funerary equipment nearby. It seems that a pit was dug in the ground, big enough to deposit the coffin inside resting on its left shoulder, with its head south and facing west. A few mid-size stones and mud-bricks were placed at the eastern side, attached to the coffin’s back, to level the sloping ground and fix the coffin sidewise, preventing it from rolling down. Underneath, there was a layer of very thin sand, probably resulting from running rainwater. At the base of the coffin, fragments of a well-braided string was found, probably used to tie together box and lid. However, it did not served its purpose, since there was a 1 cm aperture between box and lid, and a considerable amount of sand sneaked in, most of it accumulating at the head end.
The wood of the coffin has suffered from humidity, particularly its foot end, which is now missing from below the knees down. Its length was approximately 1.20 m, but what remains today is 0.90 x 0.29 x 0.25 m, the box’s interior being 0.22 m wide at the shoulder’s level. The coffin was cut out of a single log of sycamore, and rudely carved. The squared headdress, sharp facial features and prominent chest, combined with the absence of crossed arms or shoulders’ silhouette, remind one of the stick-shabti particularly prominent in Seventeenth/early Eighteenth Dynasty burials at Dra Abu el-Naga. Despite that it was never decorated, not even coated with whitewash, it can be classified as pertaining to the rishi-coffin type.
The body was deposited inside the coffin on its right side, and since the coffin was placed on the ground on the left side, the body twisted and ended up resting on its back and facing up. A mat was laid over the feet, and extended to the torso, covering at least half of the ribs. The limbs were not wrapped separately, and several pieces of cloth were just placed on the body and among the bandages to provide bulk and protection. At least seven layers of linen fabrics of different quality were used to wrap most of the body, with knots being used to lengthen or secure the bandages, wherever necessary. The best quality linen (tentatively identified as the shroud) was used externally. The head, generally the most protected part of the mummy, only boasted five layers of textile. Some short dark brown silky hair was noted on the skull.
The body belongs to an infant male. Some of the bones ended up miss placed, a vertebra having been found at the feet. Despite he is missing several vertebral, his estimated height would be around 1.30 m. Based on dental eruption the infant would have been eleven years old at the age of death. None of his teeth show caries or LEH. He had excellent oral health. The child was covered in royal purple in patches, probably caused by a fungus.
The coffin of the eleven-year-old boy was found untouched, apparently unseen and undisturbed by the group of people that cleared the nearby shaft and that re-buried Neb’s coffin in it. Its finding shows well how the area remained unaltered since antiquity. Unexpectedly, the houses and inhabitants of the modern village of Dra Abu el-Naga that were standing about three metres above the child’s coffin until January 2007 did not damage the ancient necropolis.
Indeed, this is not the only untouched infant burial unearthed in Sector 10: in February 2013 another coffin had been found 9.5 m to the north, resting sidewise on the ground and fixed in that position with mid-size stones attached to the chest and to the back. It was not covered with any kind of protection, and not a single piece of funerary equipment was found in the vicinity. On the other hand, near the coffin, a huge pottery deposit of about 2,000 vessels was unearthed, dating to the Seventeen/early Eighteenth Dynasty. The way they were deposited seems to indicate that they were votive offerings, associated with a significant tomb-chapel nearby.
To the southwest of the pottery deposit, a funerary shaft was excavated in 2013, at the bottom of which was found an octagonal limestone obelisk, inscribed with an offering formula dedicated «to the ka of the king’s son, Intefmose.» The obelisk could have fall down from the entrance of the mud-brick chapel built next to the shaft, and may be used as circumstantial evidence to tentatively identify this complex as the tomb-chapel of the Seventeenth Dynasty prince Intefmose.
After four seasons excavating at the southwest of the courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel (TT 11), in Sector 10, it becomes clear that Djehuty chose to build his funerary monument within the necropolis of the royal family and courtiers of the Seventeenth and very early Eighteenth Dynasty, which in turn had developed in an area already taken by Middle Kingdom burials and rock-cut tombs. Each burial is interesting on its own merits, but the relationship among them, their archaeological context makes them even more relevant. They permit to approach the burial customs, organization and use of the necropolis at that particular time, and also understand the overlapping with earlier, Middle Kingdom burials, rock-cut tombs and shrines (c. 2000 BC) that were already falling in decay. They also help to better understand the location of Eighteenth Dynasty rock-cut tombs in the area, the activities of looters during the Twentieth Dynasty and the subsequent inspection and reorganization of the necropolis by the priests of Amun during the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1000 BC).
DOCUMENTATION OF BIRD MUMMIES IN THE FUNERARY SHAFT OF HERY (TT 12)
The funerary shaft of Hery is located at the inner most room of his tomb-chapel (TT 12). It is 7.50 m. deep and at the bottom there are two chambers that open to the east and west. The entrance of the west chamber was still partially blocked with mud bricks. It is a broad chamber, 3 x 6.5 m., with the walls and ceiling blackened by fire. It was found filled with animal mummies in wrapped linen packages, probably above 1,000 specimens. It seems this was the condition of the chamber in the mid second century BC. The floor of the east chamber was cover with a 30 cm layer of animal bones. More than twenty different spices of raptors were identified, including vultures. We plan to continue next season with the systematic study of the bird mummies, an important testimony of animal cult in the Theban necropolis during the Ptolemaic period.
RESTORATION AND DOCUMENTATION INSIDE THE TOMB-CHAPEL OF DJEHUTY (TT 11)
Cleaning, consolidation and restoration of the inner walls of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel (TT 11) continued, paying special attention to the central corridor and inner most chamber. The thick mud crust attached to the walls was carefully removed from the surface by using both mechanical means and an ultrasound machine, which has proven to be very useful. Inscriptions and demotic graffiti that were hidden are now perfectly visible, and are being recorded by epigraphists. Some blocks that were found outside when digging on the courtyard have been relocated in the walls, in their exact original place, thanks to the close collaboration between epigraphers and restorers. Moreover, we have accomplished the installation of a metal structure in the broken ceiling of the inner most chamber and of the corridor. The iron ceiling is designed to avoid the consequences of any rock detaching and falling down from the ceiling. The iron structure has been painted in black because the rock above is completely blackened by the smoke of fire lit inside the room. In this way the iron structure does not call the attention of the visitor’s eye. Moreover, taking advantage of having now a false ceiling, we have installed a modern lighting system, using tubes of micro led lamps that have been fixed to the metal frame, near the walls. In this way, the reliefs are illuminated from above. Not only the inscriptions and scenes in relief can now be seen and appreciated much better, but there are no lamps and cables along the floor.
A team of geologists specialized in cave environments sets up and maintains autonomous electronic devices inside and outside the burial chamber of Djehuty to monitor all year long the variations in temperature and humidity.
An epigraphist specialized in funerary corpora has been putting together fragments of stucco with remains of text, which were found fallen on the floor inside Djehuty’s burial chamber. New chapters of Djehuty’s Book of the Dead have now been identified, improving our idea of how the burial chamber originally looked like.
The objects that have been found in the course of the excavation have been carefully cleaned, consolidated (when needed), wrapped in acid free paper and safely stored. The rishi-coffin of Neb was moved to the SCA-Carter-House Magazine at the end of the season. It cleaning, consolidation and restoration will be finished in February 2015.