Visit to Qubbet el-Hawa

On Friday those of us who travelled to Aswan woke up early, but a little later than usual, to enjoy a wonderful breakfast at the Nubia House where we spent the night. We didn’t linger long as the day was full of planned activities.

Foto: Mohamed Osman

We boarded a sailboat for Qubbet el-Hawa where we visited the most significant Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom tombs of the site, guided by our colleagues and friends Jose and Luisa from the University of Jaen mission “Proyecto Qubbet el-Hawa”.

Foto: Mohamed Osman

After being amazed by the site, we sailed back to the center of Aswan, enjoying the beautiful landscape along the way. Some members of the team even took a swim off the side of the boat!

Foto: Mohamed Osman

Once back in Aswan, we met a friend from the French Mission in Luxor who had also decided to visit Aswan for the weekend, and after a quick lunch we all went to see the temple of Philae.

Foto: David Laguna

This site, with its awesome Nilometre and where the last recorded use of hieroglyphs is preserved, was moved in its entirety to a different island after the famous Aswan Dam was constructed and submerged its original location. Even though it is close to the center of Aswan, you really feel like you are in another world on the island, which is why it was so surprising when a group of Mohammed’´s students appeared to greet him!

Foto: David Laguna

All together we explored the beautiful temple complex while the sun set over the Nile, making it a perfect ending to our trip.

All too soon we had to say goodbye to our friends however, and return to Luxor where dinner and our work were waiting for us.


Ptolemaic temples

With the inauguration of the Avenue of the Sphinxes linking the Luxor and Karnak Temples, we have not been able to go to work today. Add to that the fact that Friday is our day off, we have a two-day weekend ahead of us, and what better way to make the most of it than a trip to Aswan?

Photo: Mohamed Osman

Most of the team rented a small van and travelled south, touring the villages along the Nile. Our first stop was Esna, where we visited the recently restored temple dedicated to the god Khnum. The whole team was amazed to see the colours of the columns and walls that the conservators have managed to restore.

Photo: Mohamed Osman

The second stop was Edfu. There we spent several hours enjoying the temple, which is dedicated to the god Horus. Mohamed explained the decoration of the Mammisi to the team members, where the birth of the god Horus is narrated and commemorated. Then the whole team visited all the chapels and rooms of the temple, inspecting every nook and cranny. That’s the thing about travelling with Egyptologists.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat, the van went straight to Aswan. We arrived around four o’clock and went straight to the Nubian Museum. Just a few hours before, the exhibition “A decade of excavations in Qubbet el-Hawa, the results of the University of Jaén” had been inaugurated, so we were lucky enough to visit it. Congratulations to all our colleagues and friends of the Qubbet el-Hawa Project because the exhibition is amazing and we encourage you all to visit it if you have the opportunity.

Photo: David Laguna

We stayed in the museum until closing time and then went for a drink in a restaurant on a boat on the bank of the Nile. However, we did not stay long as our hosts were waiting for us.

That night we stayed in a typical Nubian House. The owners had prepared a hearty dinner for us consisting of chicken, fish, rice and potato stew. We all had a great time, chatted with the couple about their life story and drank a delicious cinnamon tea as night fell.

Tomorrow also promises a lot of activities, we will see if we are able to fulfil all our plans.


Wrapping up before the parade

Today the day started with a visit to Dra Abu el-Naga. There one of our inspectors, Dr Mohamed Boeabish, showed us a number of tombs included in the Kampp catalogue that he is re-excavating and studying. The conservation of many of the paintings in these tombs, dating from the New Kingdom, was astonishing and the team was delighted to be able to visit.

As the work at the site started a little later, we were at full speed from the very first minute. At Henenu’s tomb, David and Iria continued with the cleaning of the tomb. They focused on the antechamber, the room that connects to the corridor leading to the burial chamber.

Sika and Carlos studied painted fragments from inside the sarcophagus. Jaume and Lily helped with the documentation of these pieces and were able to join together three of these limestone fragments.

At Ipi’s tomb, the day began with Oscar and Bea working with the total station. The excavation of the courtyard is now focusing on the eastern area, south of the tomb of Meseh. It is a very interesting area and at the end of the day we started to uncover Middle Kingdom ceramics, something that gives us very valuable information about the construction of the courtyard. Hazem has rejoined the team and he is focused on drawing and completing the information on the shabtis obtained in past seasons in the tomb of Ipi.

Also at Ipi´s tomb the conservation team finished a series of tests on the papyrus fragments to establish a methodology for their treatment. They also continued the treatment of the cartonnage fragments from the 2016 and 2017 seasons that had been previously cleaned and documented by Fathi and Reed, joining several fragments and stabilizing any fragile areas.

Carmen has been left in charge at E1 after Jose’s departure. With the help of Óscar, they photographed the corridor and the chamber. They documented the previous day’s finds and cleaned a superficial stratum that opens up to the corridor to finally photograph it. Óscar and Carmen joined MKTP in 2018 thanks to two collaboration grants for students at the University of Alcalá and this is already the third campaign in which they are participating.

We currently have three collaboration and archaeological training grants open, two for UAH students and one for members of the Spanish Association of Egyptology. If you are interested, you can check the requirements on the Facebook page Orientalística en la UAH and you could participate in the VII campaign of the team in 2022!


Kool sana wa anta taib, ya rais!

Today was a very happy day at the site, as it was the birthday of our beloved Rais Omar and we celebrated it all together with a delicious chocolate cake. All the workers sang songs to the Rais while we joined in by clapping our hands to celebrate this special day.

Furthermore, Dr. Behaa, Director General of the West Bank office, visited us. Antonio showed him the three tombs we are working on. Dr. Behaa could not have chosen a better day because the atmosphere at the site was exceptional. 

Last night Óscar arrived and today he began working with Bea to order the inventory of Ipi and photograph the ceramics found during this season.  The excavation of the courtyard continues, but Mohamed is also preparing the data for the final documentation, which will include a plan of the different profiles, 3D models, and more.

Reed, Ella and Jaume started to conserve different cartonnage fragment found in past seasons at Ipi’s tomb, while Lily treated some of the ceramics. Of course, the whole conservation team continues to work with the papyrus. The results of the techniques they are using to unfold some of the pieces are excellent and after a few days they hope to be able to make faster progress.

At Henenu’s tomb, David and Iria finished documenting all the shafts and they have begun a superficial cleaning of the entire tomb, from the burial chamber outwards. Jaume and Lily also visited Henenu´s tomb and worked with Carlos and Sika on some carved fragments.

The work on E1 is still focusing on cleaning the chamber connected to the corridor, especially the area where it seems there may be a new descending corridor. Jose and Carmen have documented and photographed the entire area, from which some small finds have appeared, such as a small scarab bead!

The sad part of the day is that it was the last day of work for Jose at the site, as he is leaving for Aswan this afternoon. Luckily, we will see him again very soon, but it will be a pity not to enjoy his daily laughs. We already miss you Jose!


Solving enigmas

The activity this week has been very intense. We are in the fourth week of excavation, which is when the work starts to pile up.

David and Iria are still working in the shafts of Henenu’s tomb. Today, they finished cleaning and documenting the one they opened yesterday, located in the funerary chamber. In addition to finding fire evidence, they found fragments of sarcophagus, as well as more common materials like wood, textiles, etc.

The epigraphers joined nine fragments of a stele. It is possible that Henenu’s tomb had a total of four stelae located at specific points. This idea was already put forward by Winlock but thanks to the work of Carlos and Sika, we are close to confirming it.

The excavation in the courtyard of Ipi is also progressing. Mohamed has opened new grids and he is studying very interesting strata. He has taken samples of the sand for further analysis and we hope to gain a better understanding of the occupation of this area of the courtyard.

At the E1, the work continues to focus on clearing the chamber that leads to the corridor. Antar, one of our best workers, is in charge of breaking up the large rocks that fill the room. The surprise was to find the beginning of a descending corridor. This gives us valuable information about the architecture of the tomb.

The restoration team now consists of four members, which makes all the work they have to do much easier. Early in the morning they were working with fragments of stelae at Henenu’s tomb. The curious thing is that they identified traces of glue on some of the pieces, probably Winlock’s attempts to join these fragments that would eventually break as the time passes by. After the breakfast break, they stayed at Ipi’s tomb where they continued with the humidification of the papyrus. Then, together with Fathi, they began piecing together fragments of shabtis from past seasons.

In the afternoon, Sika reviews over two thousand photographs of more than five hundred inscribed fragments from Henenu’s tomb. She is currently in the process of identifying each of the fragments, a task she hopes to complete in a day or two. After that, she will have to try to put as many pieces together as possible. She will probably finish this work when she goes back to Spain as unfortunately, she and Carlos will leave us this Sunday.


Joining fragments

Last night, Lily arrived to join the restoration team. However, her luggage stayed in Cairo. Lily had to go back to the Luxor airport in the morning to pick it up. Therefore, she will have to wait until tomorrow to visit the site.

Even with Lily’s abscence, the conservation team finished the restoration of all the carved and painted reliefs from Henenu’s tomb. They also continued to work on the papyrus fragments found in the courtyard of Ipi. They are trialing different methods of re-humidification and flattening.

At Henenu’s tomb, David cleaned one of the shafts of the burial chamber and excavated and documented, together with Iria, the deepest shaft of the tomb, which has almost eight meters of deep! Carlos and Sika finished the matching of several reliefs, identifying several areas from the tomb’s wall and from a monumental door.

At Ipi’s courtyard, Mohamed found a mud pavement with a small pit. Bea excavated, documented and drew it. However, no interesting materials were found in its interior.

At the E1 sector, Jose and Carmen continued with the cleaning of the steps of the chamber that leads to the corridor. Taking into account the sand and the stones, it is probably that the work in this camera will take them the whole week.

When we arrived at the Marsam, Lily was happily expecting us with her luggage. Ella showed her the surroundings and tomorrow she will explore the three sectors of Deir el-Bahari


Winter is coming

Winter is slowly arriving in Egypt. The nights are getting cold and the contrast with the morning heat is causing the first colds.

At Henenu’s tomb, David opened two new shafts located in the burial chamber. There he found large blocks of sandstone and limestone, possibly from a sarcophagus. In addition, other materials such as textiles, cartonnage and wood were found and recorded by Iria. Carlos and Sika are still working together with Reed and Ella to consolidate, clean and join some relief fragments.

At Ipi’s main courtyard, Mohamed is concentrating on the southwestern part, from where very interesting Middle Kingdom ceramic sherds are being extracted. Ceramics are the best method we have to date the contexts we work with, which is why Bea has been photographing the ceramic fragments from this season, in order to get an idea of the different levels of occupation of the courtyard.

Jaume has also been working with ceramic pieces from Ipi’s courtyard together with Fathi. Together they have managed to piece together some fragments and identify a total of four different jars.

In E1, Jose and Carmen have identified, at the end of the corridor, what appears to be a new chamber. However, it is filled with sand and full of large rocks that require the effort of several workers to drag them out of the tomb. It seems that the cleaning of this chamber will take several days. 

Tonight, we have a new member joining the restoration team, Lily Griffin, also from the University College of London. With her help we hope to make much faster progress on the many conservation tasks we have planned for this campaign. 


Windy day

This was Jose’s last Friday with us before he leaves for Aswan, so we decided to do something different and take off in one of the hot air balloons that fly over Luxor every morning!

Jose, Jaume, David, Reed, Carmen, Iria and Bea woke up even earlier than usual to enjoy the Theban mountains from the sky. However, the wind had other plans.

The balloon crew warned that it was possible that the trip would have to be cancelled if the wind did not slow down. The team waited for two hours but the situation only got worse. The wind was blowing harder and finally, the ride was cancelled.

Faced with this setback, the team looked for an alternative plan. Some of Mohamed’s students, who are beginning their studies in Egyptology, came to visit him. Therefore, what better place to visit than Deir el-Medina?

Foto: Mohamed Osman

Carlos and Ella also joined the group and all of them went to one of the most amazing sites in ancient Egypt. They visited the tombs of Sennedjem, Pashedu, Ankher and Nakhtamun where Carlos explained the most important features of the epigraphy and the funerary world of those tombs. Iria explained the history of the site and some of the most significant domestic structures of the settlement. They also explored the Hathoric Temple and the great pit where hundreds of ostraca were found in the 1930’s.

Later, Reed, Bea, Mohamed and his students visited the Ramesseum. They were lucky because it was lunch time and there were not many tourist, so they enjoyed the temple as its best.

The day ended with almost the whole team playing cards. However, it was so windy that we had to have dinner inside the Marsam. Hopefully, the wind tomorrow will allow us to work without too many problems!


The last minutes

Archaeology works in a curious way. It may be quiet all day long with no interesting finds, but everything can change in the last few minutes of the day. That is what happened today.

Activity at Ipi went smoothly during the day, but by the end of the morning the work overflowed. First, Mohamed found what look like a small object wrapped in textile and tied with string. After Patri photographed it, Ella carefully unwrapped it. The object appears to be a wick use of light, but there is no definitive conclusion and it requires further studies.

A few minutes later, one of our best workers, Abd El-Rahim, found some fragments of papyrus written in hieratic. Mohamed collected them and Antonio completed a first analysis of the text. The restoration team inmediately began considering how to conserve the pieces. Some fragments are folded so we do not know if there is more written text. On Saturday the restoration team will established a methodology for further treatment so that we can have an answer.

At Henenu’s tomb, David and Iria continued excavating and documenting the shaft they opened the day before. Carlos and Sika started to work on some reliefs that may have come from the walls of the tomb.

Meanwhile in the East Sector, Jose and Carmen finished the cleaning of the corridor of the tomb. Despite no significant materials being found, some imitation objects from the XXth century were located such as the head of a shabti and a scarab.

Our “weekends” start Thursday afternoon, so some members took a break and watched a TV show. However, Jose could not join them as he had to give his lecture to the FSE program of the University of Alcalá. Tomorrow, we have organised a different plan for a day off…


Work, farewell and TT110

Work continues on all the tombs. Archaeology requires documenting every step we take. Therefore, sometimes it seems that our work is slow, but this is essential if we want to reconstruct the history of the site.

At Henenu’s tomb, a new shaft in the closest chamber to that of the sarcophagus was opened by David. Materials coming from it were analyzed and registered by Iria; together with the conservators who first take a look at the pieces and treated them.

Then, the epigraphers, Carlos and Sika, separated the fragments according to their possible provenance (wall, stelae, sarcophagus…). They finished the study of the big fragments which possibly come from the sarcophagus and started the analysis of the incised pieces. 

At Ipi’s tomb, Mohamed and Bea continued the documentation and excavation in the main courtyard of the tomb going down to the slope. Bea also continued identifying and classifying the new materials. Bettina finished analysing all the jars in the embalming cachette. She has studied more than fifty jars in just two weeks of work.

At the East Sector, Jose and Carmen have cleaned the entrance of the tomb, but some large rocks have appeared. It has taken several workers to move them to the outside of the tomb.

Photo: Jose Alba

In the afternoon, we visited the tomb of Djehuty (TT110), the team had the opportunity to participate in a guided visit by J.J Shirley, who is the main director of the Epigraphy Research School Field of the ARCE. She explained to us the architecture of the tomb, the depictions and the work they have been doing for several years now in this tomb.

During the night, as it was Bettina’s final work day, the whole team went to Luxor to celebrate her work at MKTP in the pub King’s head. It was a good night to say goodbye to an exceptional worker. We will miss you Bettina!

MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Recuperando el pasado

El proyecto

El Middle Kingdom Theban Project tiene como objetivos la excavación, estudio y publicación de varias tumbas de la necrópolis del Reino Medio en Deir el-Bahari (Henenu, Ipi, Neferhotep, E1) y de las tumbas de Dagi (TT 103) y Djari (TT 366) en la necrópolis de Asasif.

MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Ministerio Egipcio de Antigüedades

Con la colaboración del Ministerio Egipcio de Antigüedades y las autoridades del Alto Egipto, Luxor y la Orilla Occidental.

Las tumbas

Las tumbas de Henenu (TT 313) e Ipi (TT 315) se encuentran en la colina norte de la necrópolis de Deir el-Bahari, donde fueron enterrados algunos de los oficiales más importantes de Mentuhotep II y principios del Reino Medio. 

La cámara funeraria de Harhotep (CG 28023) fue localizada en el patio de la tumba TT 314 y constituye uno de los ejemplos más interesantes en arquitectura, iconografía y epigrafía del yacimiento. 

En la planicie de Asasif, las tumbas de Dagi (TT 103) y Djari (TT 366) también representan monumentos a la memoria de altos cargos tebanos del reinado de Mentuhotep II que ayudaron a construir un gran estado.

MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Gobierno de Castilla-La Mancha
MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Fundación para el Conocimiento madri+d
MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte
MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Fundación Palarq
MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Castilla-La Mancha
MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Asociación Española de Egiptología
MKTP - Middle Kingdom Theban Project - Patrocinadores - Asociación de Amigos de la UAH

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