Report Campaign 2022
Field Director: Dr. José M. Galán
- Abad, Emilio Archaeologist
- Diaz-Iglesias, Lucía Epigraphist
- Forcadell, Ignacio Architect
- García, David Archaeologist
- González, María Pottery
- Herrerín, Jesús Physical anthropologist
- Huertas, Laura Egyptologist, archaeologist
- Ikram, Salima Egyptologist, archaeologist
- Jimenez Higeras, María Angeles Egyptologist, archaeologist
- Méndez, Daniel Egyptologist, epigraphist
- Navarro, Miguel Ángel Restorer
- Oliveira, Ana Archaeologist
- Pascual, Carmen Restorer
- Rivera, Asunción Restorer
- Rodríguez, María Pía Conservator
- Ruiz, Carmen Photographer, epigraphist
- Sánchez, Miguel Paleopathologist
- Serrano, José Miguel Egyptologist, archaeology
- Solchaga, Maria Soledad Egyptologist
- Trueba, Javier Photographer
- Veldmeijer, Andre Leather specialist
- Villar, Alba Egyptologist, archaeologist
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. Khaled El Anani, to the General Director of Antiquities of Egypt, Dr. Mustafa Wasiri, and to Dra. Nashwa Gaber, Secretary 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 Fathy Yasin, General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt; Bahaa Abdel Gaber, Director of the Antiquities Department in the West Bank; and to Ramadan Ahmed Ali, Manager of all missions on the West Bank.
We have had this season as SCA Inspector Ahmed Tayib. He has been at the same time strict and vigilant, as well as most helpful and cooperative. He has been very much involved in the excavation process, as well as in the conservation of the tombs. He has given good advice in many issues concerning site management. He has It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with him, and we are, indeed, very grateful to him.
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. It is thanks to his involvement and energy that we have been able to accomplish our goals.
We have employed more than 100 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 (1) the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), (2) the Spanish Ministry of Culture, (3) the Spanish Ministry of Research and Innovation, (4) Técnicas Reunidas, a Spanish Engeneering company, (4) Palarq Foundation for palaeonthology and archaeology.
Dra Abu el-Naga is the modern name of the hill that rises on the West Bank at the northern end of the necropolis associated with the ancient city of Thebes, which coincides with modern Luxor. A Spanish mission has been working at the foothill of the central area of Dra Abu el-Naga since January 2002, inside and around the rock-cut tomb-chapels of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12).
Hery lived at the very beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty, under King Ahmose, and probably died under his successor, King Amenhotep I. He could have been related to the royal family through his mother, Ahmes, who is referred to in the monument of her son as “adornment(?) of the king.” Hery’s administrative title mentioned in his tomb-chapel is “overseer of the granaries of the king’s mother and royal wife Ahhotep.” It must have been a relevant position since Queen Ahhotep ruled de facto as king for about twenty years. The inner walls of his funerary monument were entirely decorated in high quality relief, being one of the very few decorated tomb-chapels that is preserved of this time period, c. 1510 BCE.
Djehuty lived about fifty years later, c. 1460 BC. In the peak of his administrative career as scribe, he acted as “overseer of the Treasury” and “overseer of the works” carried out by the craftsmen and metal workers for Queen Hatshepsut, who also ruled as king for about the same lapse of time as Ahhotep. Djehuty was also “overseer of the cattle of Amun,” an office that associates him with the temple of Amun in Karnak, which is located right in front at the other side of the river Nile. The walls of his tomb-chapel were decorated in relief, even the façade and part of the left sidewall of the open courtyard. His burial chamber is also entirely written with passages from the Book of Going Forth by Day.
In the winter 2006/2007 the modern village of Dra Abu el-Naga was demolished. The following year we applied to the Ministry of Antiquities for an extension of our site in exchange of clearing the piles of debris left on the ground. The official permission was approved in 2008, and the area started to be cleared a year later. In 2011 we started the excavation of the area, southwest of Djehuty’s courtyard, which was labelled “Sector 10”. A number of mud-brick offering chapels and funerary shafts dating to the 17th Dynasty, ca. 1600 BCE, have been unearthed since then. Despite the fact that all of them were robbed in antiquity, a few objects of the original funerary equipments were retrieved. Through the inscribed objects we may rescue from oblivion some of the members of the royal family and/or the Theban elite during this period of transition, such as the king’s son Intefmose, the king’s son Ahmose, the mouthpiece of Nekhen Ahhotep, or a man called Neb, buried in a nicely painted rishi-coffin.
During the present season we have continued the excavation at the southwest of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (TT 11), the so-called “Sector 10”, and at the entrance of the open courtyard, named “Sector 11”. This area was attached to the modern village of Dra Abu el-Naga, which was demolished in 2006. The first layer consists of rubbish associated to the daily life of the village. The Stratigraphic Unit (SU) 1000 consists of a dark colour soil, and the objects found in it are mainly made of plastic, fragments of alabaster related to the shops nearby, and organic material (straw) associated to cattle housing. This layer has been entirely removed this season.
In the central part of the excavated area, underneath the modern layer (SU 1000), it appeared a new fill, SU 1001, that features a lighter colour with small and medium limestone flakes. The pottery found in this layer covers a wide range of different chronologies that goes from the Middle Kingdom to the contemporary era, although the main concentration dates to the Second Intermediate Period and to the New Kingdom.
A mud-brick offering chapel was discovered in 2020 in square 1D. The mud-brick enclosure wall that surrounds the funerary shaft that is to be located in front of it was partially exposed in 2021. The northern corner of the rectangular area preserved four layers of mud-bricks, making 44 cm in height inside and 34 cm outside (three layers of mud-bricks). The walls and the floor of the area delimited by them were coated with a layer of whitewash or a very thin white plaster. During the current season the complete layout of the enclosure wall was brought to light. It measures 8.50 x 6 m. The width of the wall is in two of the sides 32 cm, corresponding to the width of two mud-bricks, and in the other two walls it is 49 cm, corresponding to the length of one mud-brick plus the width of another. The new wall sections unearthed are 15 cm high in the inside and 28 cm high from outside. It seems that the enclosure wall had an entrance near the eastern corner 63 cm in width.
The southern corner of the shaft’s mud-brick curb was brought to light. Between the shaft and the enclosure wall there was a small mud structure consisting of two parallel short walls, set apart 50 cm. They measure 63 and 55 cm long and 16 and 21 cm in height, with the top rounded. Between the walls the ground was dark and a considerable amount of botanical remains were retrieved together with a broken pottery vessel, what seems to indicate that the small structure was used to make some king of offering involving plants next to the funerary shaft.
Touching the eastern corner of the mud-brick enclosure wall the mouth of two funerary shafts were discovered, in squares 99E and 99F. The mud-brick curbs are strengthened by layers of limestones without mortar, most probably piled by robbers to facilitate their action. One of them was excavated to a depth of 70 cm, but for lack of time it was decided to stop and leave the excavation of these two shafts for next season.
In square 96G, the base of an 11th/early 12th Dynasty wooden coffin (ca. 2000 BC.) was unearthed, probably thrown away by robbers operating in the area.
Among other objects, we found three inscribed stick-shabtis dating to the 17th Dynasty (ca. 1600 BC.), and one end of a wooden clapper in the shape of a hand.
A deposit of miniature vessels dating to the 17th Dynasty was discovered on the floor level from that period (see no. 2 in the plan). The ensemble consisted of seven miniature pottery vessels, three leather balls and two doom palm-tree fruits. Two of the leather balls, the larger ones of more or less the same size, were originally tied together by a string, which was found next to them. Both are filled with barley husk and sewn in four sections. A third leather ball, slightly smaller, was also filled with barley husk, but it was sewn in two halves.
The vessels were carefully cleaned and emptied. A couple of the small vessels had barley husk inside. Two of the small jars, decorated with white spots, were moulded without an opening, i.e. with the mouth closed, making it clear that they did not have a practical function, but symbolic and ritualistic. The x-rays taken to these two pieces show their morphology and contents, probably pebbles.
On the same 17th Dynasty floor level where the deposit was found, two miniature sarcophagi made of mud were discovered (see no. 1 in the plan). The ensemble dates to the 17th Dynasty. The smallest one still preserved the lid in its place. Each sarcophagi had inside a wooden, anthropomorphic coffin, painted and inscribed, wrapped in a linen bandage. The coffins were in good condition, and only needed superficial cleaning and consolidation.
The name of the owner is written on both coffins. The larger one has an offering invocation formula dedicated “…for the ka of Dy”. The name is here spelled with the sign of a hand, /d/, reduplicated, and so /dd/, what may be read then as the dual /dy/. On the smaller coffin, the owner’s name is spelled with one hand only, /d/, followed by the phonetic sign for /i/, what supports the reading of the name as Di or Dy. The linen bandage that was wrapping the coffin preserves part of the inscription: “[…]the ka of the Osiris, Dy”.
A relatively high number of interesting figurative and written ostraca were also found this season in Sector 10 and 11.
(A) Fragment of an early 18th Dynasty vessel, with two sketches traced in black (no. 3 in the plan). On the outer face three groups of two men are carrying chests with regalia (shown standing up on top of the chests and underneath). The scene, which is very rare, was carved on the left wall of the corridor of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (TT 11). It is plausible that this piece was used by the artists working in this tomb as a guide for the composition of the scene.
On the inner face of the jar a coffin is depicted resting inside a shrine set up on a sledge. Two human figures escort the coffin. A third one was traced in a smaller scale, and it is not clear what is he doing. The numeral 4 behind the scene probably indicates the times that a ritual action should be performed.
(B) Early 18th Dynasty limestone ostracon with the profile of a man’s face traced in black ink (no. 7 in the plan). The face could be that of Djehuty, since the style is very close to the two ostraca of his contemporary Senenmut, found at the entrance of his tomb and today kept at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
(C) Limestone ostracon with a geometrical motive traced in black ink. The design is common as part of the ceiling decoration of New Kingdom tombs in Thebes. A similar ostracon was found in 2007 in front of the tombs of Hery and -399-.
(D) Limestone ostracon with a baboon drawn seated and holding the hands before the mouth. The folds of the abdomen are not painted, but incised, what seems to indicate that the sketch was done with certain care.
(E) Large size limestone ostracon with the head of a falcon deity, probably Ra-Horakhty, traced in black (no. 4 in the plan).
(F) Large size limestone ostracon with a boat traced in red ink (no. 5 in the plan).
(G) Early 18th Dynasty pottery fragment with part of a text written in black ink, mentioning the dragging of the tekenu. This scene, accompanied by a written caption, was carved at the inner most room of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty.
(H) Two fragments of the same early 18th Dynasty vessel join together. The text refers to a ritual very rarely represented, but which is depicted at the inner most room of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel. This ostracon, as well as the one just mentioned, could have been used as guidance for the workmen carving the walls of Djehuty’s monument.
(I) Three pottery ostraca written in demotic.
As it was also the case in previous seasons, in Sector 10 and 11 numerous fragments of shabtis dedicated to the overseer of the cattle of Amun under Ramesses II, Tutuya, were found.
The mummy of a female dog came to light in the excavation of the square 0H (no 10 in the plan). She was middle aged when died, and was wrapped in linen. She had a necklace made of blue rounded faience beads and the snout tied with a string in the manner of a muzzle.
Northwest of a mud-brick structure that was excavated last season in squares 2G and 2H, a 27th Dynasty jar from a mummification deposit (ca. 525 a. C.) was found complete (no. 9 in the plan). A similar jar was found last season standing up on the floor of the mud-brick structure nearby (no. 8). The latter was also complete and closed with an incense burner as stopper, but it was empty. The jar found this season, however, contained bundles of linen impregnated in resins used in the mummification process. The two jars were probably part of the same mummification deposit.
Finally, it is to be underlined that twelve new fragments from the burial chamber of Djehuty were found in the process of excavation in Sector 10 and 11. The four walls and the ceiling of the burial chamber of Djehuty were entirely written in cursive hieroglyphs with chapters from the Book of the Dead. Later, two of the walls were demolished to enlarge the chamber. We are now finding the fragments of those two walls 60 m away from the tomb’s façade, scattered through this sector. These twelve fragments add to the eight fragments found last season.
studies and documentation
Two ceramists were in charge of the study of the pottery found in previous seasons and during this year’s excavations. They paid particular attention to the ensemble of 17th Dynasty pottery found in the funerary shaft where the red leather sandals were discovered, back in 2019.
An expert on ancient leather analysed the leather materials found last season. This year we found in Sector 10 and 11 a leather wrist-guard dyed in red and green, and with an engraved decoration. It probably has to be associated to the equipment of an archer, dating to the 17th Dynasty, ca. 1600 a. C.
The epigraphic documentation of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty continued this season, focusing on the transverse hall. The drawings are traced in front of the walls using an iPad. They are then inked in a computer using Adobe Photoshop. Afterwards, the drawings are printed on paper and collated in front of the wall by another team member.
Moreover, reviewing wall fragments decorated in relief and found in previous seasons, we succeeded in re-locating twenty blocks in their original spot in the walls of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty. Half of them have already been attached to the wall, and the rest will be attached next season.
conservation and restoration
Among the objects that have been restored this season, it is worth mentioning two Middle Kingdom pottery offering trays. A Second Intermediate Period limestone stela, which was found in 2020, was restored in the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities magazine near Carter House.
The mud-brick structures underwent consolidation and restoration, in particular the 17th Dynasty offering chapels and the sidewalls of the open courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel. Consolidation was carried out using ethyl silicate.
The entrance to the tomb of Baki, located northeast of Hery’s tomb but three metres higher up the hill, was enhanced as part of the site management plan. The door jambs of the entrance door, which were found fallen on the court’s floor many years ago, were set up and restored. Baki was overseer of the cattle of Amun in the mid 18th Dynasty. The inner part of his monument is very much damaged, but the entrance is definitively worth restoring.
The restoration of the tomb-chapel of Hery (TT 12) may be considered finished, and different works were conducted to make it ready to be opened to the public in February 2023. The floor was made flat and strong by filling the cracks and gaps with mortar. A small mud-brick wall that was built at the end of the corridor in Ptolemaic times was consolidated, and a layer of new mud-bricks was placed on top for protection. The mud-brick staircase connecting Hery’s tomb with that of Baki was also consolidated. A wooden handrail was custom made and set up at the end of the corridor to prevent visitors from stepping into the inner most room. The three breaks that were opened in different walls in Ptolemaic times to connect the tomb of Hery with other neighbouring tombs were closed with metal grids and doors. These were painted in black so that they will not disturb the sight of the visitor.
The tomb-chapel of Djehuty also underwent final cleaning, consolidation and restoration, to make it ready to be opened to the public. The floor was flattened and strengthened by filling the cracks and gaps with mortar. A metal door was set up at one of the corners of the transverse hall, where there is a break that connects with a tomb to the southwest not yet excavated. The LED lights were revised.
The site was prepared to receive visitors next year. An access path was built coming from the gafirs’ hut and the tombs of Roy and Saroy, which are the ones already opened to the public in Dra Abu el-Naga North. The path reaches the open courtyard of Djehuty, and a terrace was built at its entrance to facilitate the view from there of the 17th Dynasty shafts and mud-brick chapels in the area south of Djehuty’s court, as well as the replica of the early 12th Dynasty funerary garden.
Five information panels are been prepared to help the visitor understand the site and the monuments. They will be printed in a special aluminium sheet, framed also by an aluminium structure and set up near the place each one describes. All of them will include QR codes with extra information.
When planning the opening to the public of the tomb-chapels of Djehuty and Hery, it was considered a good idea to try to install solar panels and illuminate the inner part of the monuments with solar light. Because one does not expect to see solar panels in an archaeological site, the premise was that they should not be visible to future visitors. It was then considered that the interior of the pylon on top of the façade of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty would be a good place for them, as they will be close to the monuments and at the same time hidden from the sight of the visitors.
The pylon was built with limestone blocks, but it was not made solid, leaving its interior void (it was originally filled with rubble). The interior measures 800 x 150 cm. The pylon was rebuilt to its original height, using good quality limestone blocks from Cairo. The interior of the pylon was levelled and a stable floor was provided for the setting up of the panels.
The panels were installed by CETA Electronic Systems, from Cairo. Two panels of 230 x 115 cm and 540W each were set up inside the pylon. The LED lights of the monuments need much less than the 1080W produced by the two panels.
The panels fit perfectly well inside the pylon, and they do not surpass the height of the walls. The aesthetics of the whole set was taken into account in the installation, even when the visitors will not get see the interior of the pylon. For that reason, two black, metal grids were set up at both sides of the panels, in order to cover the whole area inside the pylon with a similar surface and provide an homogeneous appearance.
The solar panels are now completely hidden inside the pylon and, therefore, do not disturb the view of the monument, nor of the site. They are oriented south/southeast, and have the ideal inclination (30º). During the sunny hours they do not receive any shadow, neither from the pylon walls, nor from the hill.
An electricity box was built and installed outside so that the electrical system of the tombs would be accessible at all times, including the 5KVA Hybrid Inverter of the solar panels. The system can change from solar power to conventional electrical power, if for any reason the solar panels are unable to produce enough power. This way, the monuments will always have light, from one source or the other. Since the monuments will be opened to the public at daytime and never at night, the system does not need any kind of battery, what simplifies the system and its maintenance. The only maintenance that will be needed is to remove the sand and clean the dust from panels’ surface once in a while, that’s it.