15th Season Report: January 12 th – February 20 th
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 out by Day.
"SECTOR 10", SOUTHWEST OF DJEHUTY'S OPEN COURTYARD (TT 11)
Excavating to the southwest of the open courtyard of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty for the last five years, several burials from an earlier period, mostly dating to the Seventeenth Dynasty (c. 1600 BC.), had been unearthed. Among them, (a) two infant coffins lying on their side on the ground, unprotected and without any funerary equipment; (b) the offering-chapel and funerary shaft of prince Intefmose; (c) the offering-chapel and funerary shaft of a king’s son called Ahmose; (d) a third shaft probably belonging to an unknown “son of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt”; (e) a well preserved rishi-coffin of a man called Neb, re-buried down a fourth shaft; (f) a huge votive pottery deposit of the late Seventeenth and/or early Eighteenth Dynasty.
Behind the mud-brick offering-chapel of prince Intefmose, near the northeast corner, two funerary shafts very close to each other and laid out in parallel were discovered this season. The one closer to it, UE 113, has an opening of 2.40 x 0.80 m, directly cut in the bed-rock without a mud-brick curb. The shaft got partially covered by the mud-brick sidewall of a nearby rock-cut tomb probably built at the end of the Eighteenth or in the Nineteenth Dynasty. The shaft goes down 5.30 m. Contrary to what would be expected, the burial chamber opens to the eastern, and thus ends below the northeast corner of Intefmose’s offering chapel. It seems that this was actually the aim of its owner. The burial chamber was left unpolished, and measures 2.80 x 1 m, and 0.80 m in height. At the rear end the floor was broken and a sloping tunnel almost 3 m long made by ancient robbers communicates this burial chamber with that of Intefmose, located almost 1 m deeper, and below the southwest corner of the chapel.
The burial chamber of Intefmose, the robbers’ tunnel and the burial chamber of the new shaft UE 113 were excavated in 2013. Then, three model mummies, one wrapped in nine linen bandages and the other two placed inside mud sarcophagi, were found distributed in such way that it was clear that they belonged to the new burial chamber located in a higher level. All three figurines and the two sarcophagi were inscribed with the name and titles of “the mouthpiece of Nekhen, the dignitary, Ahhotep”, with the moon-sign written facing up. Therefore, we may have now know the name of the shaft’s owner, his social rank and the approximate date of his death: the last phase of King Ahmose’s reign. What we are not able to find out is his relationship with prince Intefmose, who must have lived and died some years earlier.
At the bottom of the shaft UE 113, a number of small limestone inscribed fragments were found in 2016, showing King Nebhepetra (Montuhotep) offering to the god Ptah, and King Kheperkara (Senwosret I) burning incense in front of Anubis. A sandstone small fragment was also found preserving the beginning of the royal cartouche of King Sobekemsaf, who is supposed to be Intefmose’s father according to a big limestone shabti kept at the British Museum (EA 13329).
The name Intefmose appears on several other limestone inscribed fragments. Some of them form the upper part of an obelisk(?), whose lower part was found at the bottom of the shaft in front of the mud-brick chapel (UE 1005). Together they reach 1.20 m in height, and if it was really an obelisk, it would have been above a metre and a half in height including the tip. The obelisk would have stood at the entrance of the offering chapel, acting as a landmark-commemorative stela. Two of its sides are inscribed with a framed vertical text, 11.6 cm wide. One of the inscribed sides is surmounted by two male walking figures facing each other. The left figure is followed by a third one depicted on an un-inscribed side to the left. The text is a straight forward offering formula with the signs arranged from right to left: “A boon that the king grants, and Osiris, lord of Busiris may he grant an invocation offering of bread and beer, fowl and beef, and linen for the ka of the king’s son Intefmose, justified”.
The other inscribed side of the obelisk also has the signs arranged from right to left, but does not have a figurative motive at the top. Instead, there is a figure with a staff carved in a larger scale below the inscription. The text starts in the middle of a sentence, what may indicate that the original limestone block was higher than assumed. It might have been a door jamb recarved and reused as an obelisk, since the second inscription mentions a different individual of unknown relationship with Intefmose. The preserved text is the closing statement of a wish for the afterlife: “[…] exist as a living spirit, going forth by day from the necropolis, for the ka of the herald(?) Dedu(?)-Neferhotep”.
Other fragments are part of another object/structure including two columns of text facing each other, with the signs written in opposite directions. It is not clear what was between the two columns, and thus what was the structure on which the text was carved. It is not clear either how the two texts connect: “(1)[…] the pool(?) of Amun-Ra, lord of the thrones of the Two Lands, when he crosses [the sky…] (2)[… (Personal Name)], justified. The king’s son Intef[mose] has brought him […]”
Finally, part of a canopic wooden box was found at the entrance of the burial chamber, among scattered human remains. The formula framing the jackal figure of the god Anubis “lord of the holy ground” mentions the four sons of Horus and the “king’s son Intefmose”.
Indeed, these three new inscriptions of prince Intefmose and the identification of his tomb constitute a relevant discovery. He was the son of King Sobekemsaf, and thus brother of the two following kings named Intef (Nubkheperra Intef and Sekhemra Wepmaat Intef). All three kings built mud-brick pyramid tomb-chapels in this same area of Dra Abu el-Naga. Therefore, it seems that this particular area of Dra Abu el-Naga was used as the burial ground of the royal family during these years of the Seventeenth Dynasty.
The adjoining funerary shaft was labelled UE 114. It has an opening of 2.55 x 1 m. The curb preserves three layers of mud-bricks, going down 40 cm. We have excavated 6.5 m deep and have not reached the bottom of the shaft. At a depth of 1.30 m a block of the Opening of the Mouth tableau carved on the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (TT 11) was recovered, and it was placed back in its original position on the corridor’s right wall. At a depth of 3.75/3.60 m the lintels of two opposing burial chambers came to light at the West and East ends. The Western chamber is 2.50 x 1.05 x 0.90 m. It was filled with debris almost up to the ceiling, covered by a thin layer of whitish dust. It was robbed in antiquity, but still we found an ink-pot, a calcite kohl small jar and a green/blue small and flat green/blue stone bowl with a spout, which could have belonged to the first individual buried here during the Seventeenth Dynasty.
The Eastern chamber measures 1.60 x 2.00 m and 0.80 m in height. It had a smaller amount of debris, accumulated at its rear end together with wooden fragments of furniture and of a musical instrument. The wooden face of a coffin, probably of a rishi type, was also found, together with a complete big size bowl, and a plate with white spots, common in the seventeenth and early Eighteenth Dynasty.
1.30 m below the entrance to the Western burial chamber, the lintel of a third burial chamber was discovered. It was left unexcavated, ready for next season.
A third funerary shaft, labelled UE 165, was excavated this season. It is located right in front of and aligned with the big mud-brick chapel that was unearthed last season (UE 160), probably dating to the Seventeenth or early Eighteenth Dynasty. 4.5 m to the East, the shaft’s curb is 3.64 x 2.31 m. It is made of mud-bricks measuring 36 x 19 x 10 cm. The shaft itself is 2.75 x 1.20 m, slightly bigger than average, and it ended being 5.40 m deep. A burial chamber opens at the Western end. It is very well cut and squared. It is also larger than average: 8.80 m. long. The height oscillates between 1.75 and 1.65 m, and the width between 1.60 and 1.35 m.
The burial chamber was divided in two parts. The first one is a slightly slopping passage, measuring 5.70 x 1.60 m and 1.68/1.75 m in height, ending in a mud-brick closing wall. The mud-bricks are heavier and larger than usual: 40 x 17 x 12 cm (cf. the mud-bricks with the seal of the scribe Nebamun found in this same chamber with an average size of 29 x 15 x 9 cm). The closing wall was broken and lost, with the exception of one mud-brick still in situ and traces on the walls and on the ceiling.
The second one is the inner most chamber, 3.10 x 1.35/2.00 m and 1.65/1.70 m in height. In the middle of the chamber the floor has a recess of 2.20 x 1.04, and 2 m deep, meant to host the coffin of the tomb’s first owner.
The size and layout of the mud-brick chapel, the shaft and burial chamber make it clear that the funerary complex belonged to a relevant individual at the end of the Seventeenth and/or early Eighteenth Dynasty. However, very little is preserved of its original owner, since the chamber was thoroughly cleared and repeatedly reused. Only a marl clay sherd with the name Ahmose incised might hint to the identity of its builder.
The tomb was reused in the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Dynasties probably by six individuals, who were latter on violently looted, their cartonnage coffins turned into pieces and their mummies dismembered, broken and scattered through the burial chamber. Five mummified heads and two skulls were found. Together with hundreds of painted cartonnage fragments, there were five coffin faces: two carved in wooden, three made of cartonnage and painted red, and one painted black.
In accordance with the human remains, shabtis of six different types were found in the excavation. One of them, made of mud and painted in blue/green, of which 55 shabtis were found, all intentionally broken in half, was made for a scribe called Pa-di-iset. He is also mentioned on one mummy case fragment, which informs that he was married to a lady of the house named Djed-iset-is-ankh. 21 of her shabtis, made of blue faience, were found, including 2 rais. 105 blue faience shabtis of a different type, higher, with the features well defined and un-inscribed, were also found, 6 rais among them. Mud shabtis painted in blue/green, similar to those of Pa-di-iset, but this time all preserved complete, were found: 34 belonging to Iry, and 7 to Nes-pa-ka-ef. Not a single raiswas found among them. Finally, 310 small, whitish “finger” shabtis were gathered, among them 70 rais.
In the curse of the excavation, a large number of linen cloth fragments of various types were found. Some of them were part of a linen shroud inscribed with the Book of the Dead written in black ink and the text displayed in vertical columns. A large size udjat-eye was traced next to the text. Chapter 64 has already been identified.
At the bottom of the cavity that was cut in the middle of the burial chamber’s floor to fit the coffin inside, a few papyrus fragments with the Book of the Dead were found. Part of a vignette depicting the falcon headed god Re-Horakhty sitting on a throne is preserved.
Four wax figurines of the “four sons of Horus”, around 8 cm in height, were found. Fragments of more than one limestone canopic jar were also found, but only the lid of one of them in the shape of a human head was recovered.
Probably related to the reuse of the tomb in the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Dynasties are two secondary rock-cut burial chambers, big enough to push inside a coffin. One of them is located at the bottom of the shaft, with its entrance at the northern sidewall and the layout perpendicular to the shaft proper. It measures 2.10 x 1.40 m, and 0.85 m in height. Its entrance is only 0.75 m wide. It was filled with sand and stones, and no significant material was found inside to determine its date and first owner.
The other secondary burial is located inside the burial chamber, in what can be considered the “antechamber”, in the right wall 3.70 m from the entrance. The opening is 0.73 m above the floor. It is roughly cut, and measures 2.20 x 0.65 m, and 0.70 in height. Its layout is not perpendicular to the main tomb, but it bents towards the shaft. The interior was found almost empty.
Above the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (TT 11), we excavated the debris that filled the inner part of the tomb-chapel (UE 198) that overlaps and breaks part of the ceiling of the inner most room of Djehuty. Probably because of this miscalculation in the location and construction of the monument its layout is unorthodox: instead of a second room aligned with the first one, a side room to the left of the entrance hall was opened, measuring 2.56 x 2.35 m, and only 0.90 in height. The walls and ceiling are all blackened from fire. The side room has a shaft, 1.60 x 1.10 m, probably dating to the Third Intermediate or Saite period. The shaft is only 1.87 m deep, and part of it is taken by a mud-brick stair, similar to the one recorded down the shaft that opens at the inner most room of the tomb -399-, between Djehuty and Hery. The two staircases date to the Ptolemaic period, about the 2nd century BCE, and are related to the deposition of animal mummies. At the bottom of the shaft there are two burial chambers, oriented south (east)–north(west), that were used to deposit animal mummies. They were not excavated.
Down the rock-cut steps that lead to the entrance of the tomb-chapel, two painted mud female figurines (20 x 3.80 and 15.5 x 3 cm) and one bed (20 x 6.40 x 3.60 cm) were found broken in pieces but almost complete. Inside the tomb-chapel, a large number of fragments of blue faience shabtis inscribed with the name Muthotep, were discovered.
The tomb-chapel of Djehuty-nefer (UE 201) was rediscovered last season above the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (TT 11). The entrance is 1.10 m wide, and the central corridor is 3.07 m. One metre and a half inside the tomb-chapel, the right wall has an entrance to a small side room. Moving into the tomb-chapel almost 3 m, there is a hole in the ceiling through which debris fall down. We started excavating the interior, but we gave up soon, considering the amount of debris that had to be moved out, and that the wall decoration was completely lost and the surface blackened by fire. Due to its re-uses and structural alterations, even the tomb layout is difficult to determine, as the tomb-chapel connects with other tombs and galleries.
A well preserved but not complete stamped mud-brick was found, measuring 32 x 17.5 x 12.5 cm, and the stamp 11 x 4.9 cm. Both the mud-brick and the stamp should be a couple of centimetres longer. The seal identified the owner of the monument as “the royal scribe Djehuty-nefer, justified.”
In the southern area of Sector 10, the courtyard of a late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Dynasty rock-cut tomb was excavated (UE 1030). The courtyard is 8.80 m long and 6.80 m wide. The area was used in Ptolemaic times as household, including a bread oven and cooking pots. In this layer, a Twenty-second Dynasty well preserved stela was found. On the lunette, a seated figure of “Osiris lord of life” is depicted accompanied by the “four sons of Horus”. The stela is dedicated to “the ka of the scribe Pasherienaset, [his father Osor]kon and his mother Nauperdjamaau,” probably of Lybian origin.
Faience fragments of a blue bowl, with the royal cartouche of Osorkon III and decorative motifs traced in black, were found through out the area. Two limestone canopic lids, one with a human head and the other with a falcon head, were also found. Moreover, delicate fragments of a papyrus with the Book of the Dead, probably dating to the Twenty-second Dynasty were recovered. So far, the epigraphist has identified chapters 110 and 149 (hills 1 and 2), both preserving part of the vignette.
A layer of fallen mud-bricks was unearthed just underneath. More than fifty of them bear the impression of Tu-tu-ya’s sealing partly preserved. Only a couple of metres to the northeast around twenty fragments of painted mud shabtis with the inscription “the overseer of the cattle of Amun, Tu-tu-ya” were found.
In the southern area of Sector 10, the excavated area covers 8 metres south-east of the Thirteenth Dynasty rock-cut tomb and 16 metres wide. The first meter and a half was a layer of modern dump. A cumulus of limestone blocks was found approximately two metres under the current soil. The most outstanding feature of this unit was an alignment of limestone blocks that ended in two half-meter long mud-brick walls at the sector’s northern end. Further cumuli were found close to the courtyard’s enclosure wall. These were probably all connected and were used as the foundation of the wall.
Regarding the objects found, it is worth mentioning a limestone relief fragment with the cartouche of Queen Ahmose-Nefertari and another one mentioning the epithet “mistress of the Two Lands”. A complete New Kingdom amphora was found under some of the cumulus limestone blocks.
A wooden coffin painted white was found right in front of the Thirteenth Dynasty rock-cut tomb. Next to it there was a mummified ram. The two seem to have been thrown away by robbers. They both can tentatively be dated to the Seventeenth Dynasty. It could be the eldest mummified ram attested so far, since the specimens known until now are much later.
The documentation of ibis and falcon mummies deposited in the burial chambers of the funerary shafts located at the inner most rooms of the tomb-chapels TT 12 (Hery) and -399- continued this season. Right in the middle of the central corridor of the tomb -399-, located between that of Djehuty and of Hery, there is a hole in the floor with a staircase that descends to the shaft that opens at the inner most room. The shaft has two burial chambers that communicate with those of the tomb of Hery. The north/west chamber of Hery was found filled with animal mummies in wrapped linen packages. We estimate that there are above 1,000 mummies inside the chamber. The floor of the south/east chamber was cover with a 30 cm layer of animal bones. More than twenty different spices of raptors have been identified. Two seal impressions have been found next to the mummies.
A selection of human remains and animal mummies were x-rayed, under the supervision of the SCA Inspector Ghada Al-Khafif.
The archaeological data is complemented by a large number of demotic graffiti written on the walls of the tomb-chapels of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12), mentioning the name of the priests that were involved in the deposition of animal mummies in the second century BCE. The graffiti are been copied, translated and studied by demotic specialists.
The restoration of the tomb-chapels of Djehuty (TT 11) and Hery (TT 12) continued. Cleaning, consolidation and restoration of TT 11 walls has moved forward, paying special attention to the left side of the transverse hall. The mud crust was carefully removed from the surface by using both mechanical means and ultrasound. Scenes showing Djehuty acting as Hatshepsut’s overseer of the Treasury were revealed. Products from Punt are being brought and registered in his presence. One of the statue niches near the monument’s façade, which was broken since antiquity, was closed with bricks and restored.
The restoration of the tomb-chapel of Hery started last season, and has continued in 2016. Cracks were filled with mortar and half a dozen pieces were placed back in their original position on the wall.
An epigraphist specialized in funerary corpora has been putting together fragments of the stucco with cursive hieroglys, which we found fallen on the floor inside the burial chamber of Djehuty. New chapters of Djehuty’s Book of the Dead have now been identified and we are getting a better idea now 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 Ministry of State Antiquities has been extremely helpful in every way, and we are most grateful to the Minister, Dr. Mamdouh Eldamati, and to Hani Abo El-Azm, 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 Sultan Eid, General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt; and Taalat Abdel-Azziz, Director of the Antiquities Department in the West Bank.
We have had this season as SCA Inspector Abd El Ghany Taher. He has been most helpful and cooperative. He has been very active and was in total control of what was going on at the site in every moment. From our point of view he is an excellent inspector.
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 120 workmen. They have all worked very hard and with great care, and we are more than satisfied with their job.
Three Egyptian restorers have joined the team this season: Hasan Yuma, Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamed, and Mohamed Ahmed Salam. They are excellent professionals, and have been most helpful and efficient. They have been engaged in the cleaning of the walls of the transverse hall of Djehuty’s tomb-chapel (TT 11), carefully removing the mud crust from the surface, filling in the cracks, and consolidating the areas about to fall down.
The field season has been sponsored by Union Fenosa Gas (UFG), a Spanish gas company whose main activity is based in Damietta, and by the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
Field Director: Dr. José M. Galán
General Director of Antiquities in Upper Egypt: Dr. Sultan Eid
General Director of Antiquities in Luxor: Mustafa Wasiri
General Director of Antiquities in the West Bank: Taalat Abdel-Azziz
Field Inspector: Abd El Ghany Taher
Rais: Ali Farouk el-Qiftauy
Dr. José M. Serrano (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Dr. Salima Ikram (Egyptologist; mummified bodies)
Dr. Lucía Díaz Iglesias (Egyptologist; epigraphist)
Dr. Francisco Borrego (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Dr. Francisco Bosch (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Christina Di Cerbo (Egyptologist; epigraphist; Demotic)
Kristian Brink (Egyptologist; archaeology)
Gudelia García (Egyptologist; archaeology)
David García (Egyptologist; archaeologist)
Elena de Gregorio (Egyptologist; pottery)
Zulema Barahona (Egyptologist, pottery)
Roxie Walker (Physical anthropology)
Megan Spitzer (Physical Anthropologist)
Pía Rodriguez (conservator & restorer)
Asunción Rivera (conservator & restorer)
Carlos Cabrera (architect)
Juan Ivars (architect)
Ignacio Forcadell (architect)
José Latova (photographer)
Javier Trueba (photographer)