Report Campaign 2024

Spanish Mission at Dra Abu el-Naga (TT 11 – 12)


January 28th– February 29th


Field Director: Dr. José M. Galán

General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt: Fathy Yasin

General Director of Antiquities in the West Bank: Bahaa Abdel Gaber

Manager of all archaeological missions on the West Bank: Ramadan Ahmed Ali

Field Inspector: Ahmed Rifai

Conservation Inspector: Mohamed Farraj

Rais: Ali Farouk el-Qiftauy

Team Members:

  1. Abad, Emilio – Archaeologist
  2. Bader, Bettina – Pottery
  3. Barahona, Zulema – Pottery
  4. Bollinger, Helga – Documentation
  5. Bosch, Francisco – Egyptologist, archaeologist
  6. Cuezva, Soledad – Geologist
  7. Forcadell, Ignacio-  Architect
  8. González, María – Pottery
  9. Herrerín, Jesús – Physical anthropologist
  10. Huertas, Laura – Egyptologist, archaeologist
  11. Ikram, Salima – Egyptologist, archaeologist
  12. Ivars, Juan – Architect
  13. Navarro, Miguel Ángel – Conservator
  14. Noria, Beatriz, – Egyptologist, archaeologist
  15. Oliveira, Ana – Archaeologist
  16. Pérez-Juez, Amalia – Archaeologist
  17. Rodríguez, María Pía – Conservator
  18. Ruiz, Carmen – Epigraphist
  19. Sánchez, Sergio – Geologist
  20. Sell, Juan – Documentation
  21. Serrano, José Miguel – Egyptologist, epigraphist
  22. Trueba, Javier – Photographer


The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo has been extremely helpful in every way, and we are most grateful to the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Dr. Ahmed Issa, to the vice-Minister of Antiquities, 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 Rifai. He has been most helpful and cooperative. He has been very much involved in the excavation and conservation, and has given good advice in many issues concerning site management and the organization of the work. He has It has been an honor 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 around 70 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 Spanish National Research Council, (2) Técnicas Reunidas, a Spanish Engineering company, (3) Palarq Foundation for paleontology 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 double granary 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, while her son Ahmose was fighting north and south. 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 ruled as king for about twenty-two years. Djehuty was also “overseer of the cattle of Amun,” an office that associates him with Karnak temple, which is located on the opposite bank, right across 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.


This year, for the first time, the Security Clearance arrived three weeks later than expected. This circumstance conditioned the work plan for the campaign. We had planned to scan the whole site to have an accurate image and topographical information of the site that we could use as basis for the Geographical Information System (GIS) we are developing. However, due to the three-week delay, we decided to postponed it for next season.

Nevertheless, we scanned and conducted photogrammetry of the area of the site higher up the hill, which was not yet documented. This area was never occupied by any house of the modern village of Dra Abu el-Naga (demolished in 2006/07). We removed the upper layer of loose stones, which did not contain any material, trying to reach the mother rock. A layer of orange sand on top of the gebel was exposed, and big rocks became now more visible. At the north eastern side of what is left of the last modern house of the village, we removed the rubbish still lying on the surface. Three funerary cones were found, and little more.

We completed the documentation of the remains of the northern most house of the modern village of Dra Abu el-Naga. The house was built on a wide horizontal platform, which was originally the courtyard of four Middle Kingdom rock-cut tombs. We scanned the four tombs to produce an accurate plan of each one.

At least one of them was reused in the New Kingdom, and a small fragment of its painted decoration is preserved. One of our conservators consolidated the mud mortar and plaster, and cleaned the painting, confirming its preliminary dating. The tomb was used in modern times to keep poultry, produce cheese and other household activities.

A second tomb had a significant number of small, folded pieces of paper inserted into holes on the paster covering the rock walls, most of them containing suras of the Coran, used to grant protection to the dwellers. A third tomb was used in modern times, among other things, to produce wooden statues. Inside the latter there was an offering table and a basket in one of the rooms, left there by the ARCE crew when they sealed the entrances of these tombs. At the rear end of the tomb, there was a small passage made by robbers, which connected with the bottom of a shaft. When we climbed up the four-meter shaft, we access the broad hall with four pillars of a rock-cut tomb located higher up the hill, whose entrance was hidden under sand and stones. In one conner there is a slopping passage leading to an antechamber and, finally, to the burial chamber. The layout of the tomb is characteristic of the end of the 18th Dynasty.

Sector 11

Excavations in Sector 11, in front of the courtyard of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (TT 11), continued this season, focusing on two funerary shafts, which were only partially excavated last year, nos. 38 and 39. The latter is associated with and offering mud-brick chapel (no. 3), and located in front of it.


It is orientated north-south. The mouth measures 2.49 x 0.87 m, and it is 4.20 m deep. The curb of the shaft is in good state of preservation, with only a few mud-bricks missing at the southeast. A total of 11 mud-brick rows of the curb are preserved. They measure approximately 31 x 17 x 6/7 cm. At the southwest, the curb was raised by modern thieves. It consists of 6 rows of mud-bricks, slightly thicker (9/10 cm), and without any binding mortar.

At a depth of 4.10 m, large wooden boards belonging to a coffin appeared, as well as human bones and large pieces of linen. According to the forensic analysis carried out, the bones belonged to a woman around 35-45 years old. Beneath some linen fragments, a wooden shabti was also found, dating to the end of the 17th Dynasty or beginning of the 18th Dynasty. It belonged to a dignitary, mouth-piece of Nekhen, called Teti-ankh. The pottery found at the bottom of the shaft dates to the same period as the shabti, and most of them were small red bottles or beakers. The only exception was the presence of fragments of a Middle Kingdom plate.

The burial chamber is located at the south end, at a depth of 2.90 m. It measures 2.62 x 1.84 m, and 1.36 m in height. It is off centered, indicating that it was cut after Shaft 37, located to the south-east, was finished. It was found almost empty, with some debris at the entrance. Most of the material culture retrieved from the shaft date from the 17th/early 18th Dynasty. However, there is significant evidence from the late Middle Kingdom.

The upper fill of the chamber comprised medium size limestone flakes, loose stones and mud-bricks. One of them, 27 x 13 x 11.5 cm, has the seal impression of “the scribe Nebamun”. Another mudbrick mentioning the same individual was also found to the west of the shaft, probably used by the thieves to raise the original curb. At the entrance of the chamber, a fragment of an ivory clapper, 11.2 x 3.3 x 0.8 cm, possibly dating to the Middle Kingdom, was found. Moreover, several fragments of a wooden coffin were found, as well as two fragments of a wooden staff. The fragments were restored and glued together, measuring 39.5 cm in length, and 3 cm in diameter. This staff is very similar to the one found in the burial of Iqer dating of the Middle Kingdom.


Is located in front of Chapel no.3. It measures 2.40 x 1.26 m, and it is oriented southwest-northeast. It has a mud-brick curb coated with mortar, a rock-excavated shaft, and two burial chambers. It was looted in antiquity, and the remains of four mummified bodies were found at the bottom of the shaft, thrown outside of the southern chamber. There were two complete plates and many fragments of red bottles and beakers, all dating to the 17th/early 18th dynasty. Small fragments of an anthropoid painted wooden coffin were also found.

During this season, we focused on the southern chamber. It measures 2.75 x 2.42 m, and 1.25 m in height. It has two small niches, one to the east (0,72 x 0,72 cm) and the other to the west (yet to be excavated). The modern looting documented in the superficial levels of the shaft is absent inside the chamber. Three distinct phases of looting in antiquity were identified in the stratigraphy inside the chamber.

The first looting occurred during the transition between the 17th and the 18th Dynasty. After the plundering, the shaft remained opened and rain fell inside, compacting a sand layer.  Subsequently, a second episode of looting took place, no later than the beginning of the 18th Dynasty, leaving mummy linen bandages throughout the chamber. This layer corresponds to the layer at the bottom of the shaft where remains of four mummified bodies were found. The third documented plundering event is evidenced by a small mud-brick wall built on the chamber’s superficial level. It was erected with the intention of gaining access to the chamber and assessing whether there was anything of interest. Since the chamber had already been looted, they departed without disturbing it any further.

The material culture within the shaft was found in the layers associated with the first and second plundering phases, comprising numerous textiles with different fringes, human bones, and painted wooden fragments of a 13th Dynasty coffin, with a black background, and green and creamy bands, the latter holding a hieroglyphic inscription. On two of the fragments it could be read mAat xrw, “justified of voice,” with a feminine -t, indicating that the coffin belonged to a woman. Three large fragments of one of the coffin’s end, featuring the feet, chest and part of the arms of a goddess, probably Isis or Nephthis, were found in the lower layer, water-cemented. Another fragment include the word sAt, “daughter,” most probably part of the owner’s female personal name.

Levels associated with the second plundering episode yielded a pottery hanging net made with a rope, along with numerous arrows and three walking sticks. Pottery fragments span from the end of the 17th Dynasty to the beginning of the 18th Dynasty. Intact or nearly intact pottery, however, belong to the first half of the Second Intermediate Period. Consequently, it seems that the original burial in Shaft 39 occurred in the first half of the Second Intermediate Period.


Three geologists have been looking for evidence of rainfall in different areas of the site. They already analyzed the stratigraphy around the Middle Kingdom funerary garden and in the trench that was opened years ago in the middle of the courtyard of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel (TT 11). This season their main focus was to analyze the evidence around Chapel no. 3 and down its funerary shaft, which date to the Second Intermediate Period. Our research question was if there was evidence of rain that could be related to the so-called “Tempest stela” of King Ahmose, first king of the 18th Dynasty. To approach this question, it is necessary to be able to deduce the strength and possible consequences of a rain event, and to be able to date it through the material culture associated with it and, eventually, through C14 analysis of organic remains directly related to the stratum of the rain evidence. This line of research is very promising and relevant, since the analyzed data may have historical and social implications, and it may shed light on environmental changes in the region.


This season we made and install a new metal ladder in the funerary shaft of Hery’s tomb-chapel (TT 12), located at the inner most room of the monument. The shaft is 7.50 m deep, and has two chambers at the bottom. The southern chamber was filled with burnt animal bones, while the northern one was still filled almost to the top with bundles of linen, carefully tied up, containing also animal bones. The northern chamber is quite large, 3 x 6 m, and the number of animal mummies easily would exceed one hundred. Some of them are well preserved, while other bundles are loose and the bones are now visible and scattered on the surface. Some packages contain only one animal, while others consist of a mixture of bones from several individuals. Most of the animals deposited here are ibis and falcons, but other raptors have also been identified. They were probably deposited here in the mid second century BC, according to the demotic graffiti written on the walls of both TT 12 and TT 11.

Having the laser scanner Leica BLK 360 with us this season, it was decided to scan the chamber as well as the northern chamber of the funerary shaft of tomb –399– (2 x 3.5 m), with which it is connected through a hole. The aim was to document the current display and state of preservation of the animal mummies, in case we decide to resume the analysis and study of the mummies next season.


Back in 2020, a couple of meters to the southeast of the offering mud-brick Chapel no. 3, an anthropoid coffin of a young woman was found placed horizontally on the ground. It was fixed in position by limestone blocks attached to its four sides, and no special cover was found above it. The coffin measures 1.75 x 0.33 x 0.33 m, and was carved from a single log of a sycomore tree. The outer face of the coffin received a layer of whitewash. The body emulates that of a mummy, with no indication of arms or legs. Only the head is carved, in a manner similar to contemporary stick-shabtis.

The mummy resting inside is that of a woman between 14 and 17 years old, and is 1.55 m tall. Contrary to what one would expect for a surface burial, the woman had a fine set of personal adornments. Four necklaces were placed on her chest in a small, disordered heap, before she was wrapped with linen bandages. Since the body was resting sidewise, the necklaces fall down between the ribs and the left side of the coffin. The beads remained in their original arrangement and were still joined together by their strings, which were well-preserved and only broken in a few places. The personal adornments characterize this young woman as a member of the (low?) Theban elite. Still, she was placed on the ground with no protection. The undisturbed personal adornments seem to indicate that the coffin was not abandoned by ancient robbers, but was intentionally left on the ground.

Three of the necklaces are made of faience beads. The fourth is composed of 74 beads of various shapes, including two scarabs, one falcon/Horus, and five miniature faience amulets.

The necklace is now in Luxor Museum, on display together with a significant number of objects found during the excavation in and around the tomb-chapels of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12). This season, a thorough analysis was conducted by two experts in two days. Their conclusions are the following.

The gems analyzed are in an excellent state of preservation. The degree of finishing is remarkable, taking into account the hardness of the pieces and the tools that may have been used for stoning. An example of this is the magnificent symmetry of some of the spherical samples. The diameter of the drill used varies according to the hardness of the stone beads, ranging from 1.5 mm for the hardest ones (quartz and agate) to 2.7 mm for the softest (steatite). It is also observed that, in several pieces, the section of the drill hole is different at each end of the bead due to the greater abrasion at the beginning of the drilling.

The study focused mainly on the eight blue-colored beads, which were thought that could be glass, nos. 2, 24, 29, 30, 49, 54, 57 and 74. The reaction to ultraviolet light was of special interest, due to their “erratic” behavior as an artificial material, by analogy with modern glasses. In all cases they were found to be inert, both in short ultraviolet light (254 nm) and long ultraviolet light (365 nm). As a complementary analysis, an 10x magnifying glass and a “quick polish” method were used, a method especially indicated for very rough, poorly polished and transparent materials. The quick polish consists of adding a drop of cedar oil to the surface of the sample, since cedar oil has a refractive index very similar to that of glass. Thanks to the cedar oil the interior of the sample becomes clearer and more visible.

After the analyses it may be determined that the eight blue beads of the necklace correspond to artificial glass on the basis of the following:

  • Presence of large numbers of spherical bubbles, indicative of a very primitive casting process.
  • Conchoidal fracture characteristic of glass.
  • Rough surface very poorly polished and filled with impurities, due to bubbles near the surface being exposed in the lapidary process.

List of stones of the Dra Abu el-Naga North necklace:

1                Carnelian Agate in the shape of Horus

2                Artificial glass cabochon

3                Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

4                Carnelian Agate barrel bead

5                Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

6                Carnelian Agate barrel bead

7                Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

8                Turquoise spherical bead

9                Steatite curved scarab

10            Amethyst quartz spherical bead

11            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

12            Faience in the shape of Horus

13            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

14            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

15            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

16            Amethyst Quartz oval bead

17            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

18            Carnelian Agate spherical bead

19            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

20            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

21            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

22            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

23            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

24            Artificial glass spherical bead

25            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

26            Faience bead

27            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

28            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

29            Artificial glass spherical bead

30            Artificial glass, broken

31            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

32            Carnelian Agate tubular bead

33            Carnelian Agate spherical bead

34            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

35            Garnet spherical bead

36            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

37            Garnet oval bead

38            Garnet barrel bead

39            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

40            Carnelian Agate oval bead

41            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

42            Faience bead

43            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

44            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

45            Carnelian Agate spherical bead.

46            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

47            Carnelian Agate spherical bead

48            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

49            Artificial glass spherical bead

50            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

51            Carnelian Agate spherical bead

52            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

53            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

54            Artificial glass oval bead

55            Garnet spherical bead

56            Amethyst Quartz barrel bead

57            Artificial glass spherical bead

58            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

59            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

60            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

61            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

62            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

63            Faience bead

64            Turquoise oval bead

65            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

66            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

67            Carnelian Agate scarab

68            Amethyst Quartz spherical bead

69            Amethyst quartz oval bead

70            Carnelian Agate barrel bead

71            Amethyst Quartz oval bead

72            Faience bead in the shape of Horus

73            Amethyst Quartz oval bead

74            Artificial glass cabochon


X-ray examination was conducted over several human and animal mummies found in previous years by the Spanish mission working in and around the tomb-chapels of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12) and now stored in Carter House magazine.

One of the them was a female dating to the 21st Dynasty. Another was a Nubian girl, very carefully mummified. Her eyes have been filled with linen. She probably dates to the 21st Dynasty. And lastly a monkey dating to the New Kingdom, extraordinarily mummified, even excerebrated. The torax is packed with linen. It was found near the funerary shaft at the entrance of the tomb-chapel -399-, between Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12).


The epigraphic documentation has continued in the tomb-chapel of Djehuty. The walls of the transverse hall and the central area of the corridor are badly eroded and grazing light is necessary to see the figures in relief and their captions. The inscriptions and scenes carved on the façade and on one of the sidewalls of the courtyard are well preserved, and the drawings were finished, and were then collated. The epigraphic documentation shall be finished by the end of next season.




Shaft 38

Shaft 39