The MKTP team prepares the VII Season (May 2023)

The members of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project and the archaeological expedition of the University of Alcalá (Madrid, Spain) prepare the VII Season of fieldwork in the concession bestowed to this institution by the Egyptian government in the cemeteries of Deir el-Bahari and Asasif (West Bank, Luxor). The VII Season will be conducted in May 1-30, 2023.

The fundamental axes of archaeological work this year will be the excavation, documentation and restoration of the façades in the funerary complexes of Dagi (TT 103) and Djari (TT 366). The former complex belongs to Dagi, a vizier from the time of king Mentuhotep II (ca. 2025 a.n.e.), who decided to build his tomb near the funerary temple of the king to benefit from the religious, economic, and social prestige of the location. Mentuhotep II had succeeded in the re-unification of the country after a century and a half of political fragmentation in Egypt, a situation that marked his figure for the future generations and turned his monument into a symbol of prestige and power. Excluding the eastern sector of Dagi’s tomb, which was restored and protected by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the remaining of the façade has suffered much harm. For this reason, it is essential to clean out of debris the area, excavate and document the section of the façade and transversal corridor behind the pillars (saff), and collect the fragments with decoration fallen from the walls, where originally colorful and significant scenes were located. In the case of Djari, although he was the director of prisons in the city of Thebes, his social and professional rank was not as high as Dagi’s, which means that he had to build his tom in a sector of Asasif somehow distant from the funerary temple of king Mentuhotep II. Both tombs display exceptional decorative programs with the combination of various types of patterns and styles from the pre-reunification times (with local features) as well as the beginning of the Twelfth Dynasty, when new artistic versions emerged at the capital, Thebes. Thus, the conservation team will play a fundamental role in the documentation and analysis of the paintings: kinds of wall preparation, application of morters and gypsum, types of pigments, stylistic analysis of the scenes, etc. For this reason, the MKTP team has reinforced the conservation team with a series of experts familiar with mudbrick, morters, and paintings.

Regarding the incorporation of new members for the season, several especialists are joining the team this year with the intention of maximizing the findings and evidence recovered in recent seasons. The conservator Olivia O’Dwyner joins the team to contribute on the study of the wall paintings from the tombs of Dagi and Djari. The archaeologist and stone-expert Miguel Ángel López Marcos shall produce a preliminary analysis of the limestone sarcophagus of Ipi (TT 315), which we plan to reconstruct and restore in the coming years. Further, three specialists on landscape archaeology will expand the previous study of the associated territory and its surroundings: Jesús Martínez, José Pérez and Kate Rose. In addition, two students will have the chance to strengthen their fieldwork experience and skills this season: Jaime Colás (Alcalá) and Laura Hernando (Barcelona). Besides, another professional photographer –Ana Jiménez (Valencia)– joins Patricia Mora to help to cover all the needs for photography and video in the team. Together, Ana and Patricia will also explore how the new multi-spectral camera might contribute to the analysis of the wall paintings in the tombs. No doubt, the contribution of the new members to the work developed by the other members of the team (archaeologists, Egyptologists, and conservators) is an attempt to improve the team capacity to document, study, and publish these tombs of the Middle Kingdom at Thebes (Luxor).


The MKTP receives 3-year funding from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation

The director of the MKTP, Antonio Morales, has just announced a new 3-year project at the University of Alcalá (UAH): “The Middle Kingdom Theban Project: social change, cultural innovation, political struggle, and state reformation in First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom Thebes” (PID2020-114188GB-100).

The project, funded by the National Research Agency, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, represents a step forward in the previous investigations of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project, an initiative that dealt with some tombs of officials dating to the late Eleventh Dynasty and early Twelfth Dynasty in the cemeteries of Asasif and Deir el-Bahari. Associated research initiatives for the Middle Kingdom Theban Project are also funded by the Research Agencies of the Community of Castilla-La Mancha and Community of Madrid, the Spanish Ministry of Culture, Palarq Foundation, and the Spanish Association of Egyptology. 

In this new phase, the Middle Kingdom Theban Project will apply an unprecedented large-scale, multidisciplinary approach to the study of the city of Thebes in the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom. The intended research will take place along four axes: (1) the study of the Theban  cemeteries and their development in this period; (2) the examination of the settlements and urban landscape of Thebes; (3) the analysis of the temples and their cultic activities; and (4) the mapping and study of the entire province of Waset. 

The fundamental purpose of the project is to clarify the role of the ruling elites and communities of Thebes in the construction of the Middle Kingdom and, in doing so, help to define the environmental, social, and cultural transformations experienced by the city during 200 years, since the fall of the Old Kingdom until the reign of Senwosret I. This will be the first application of such a large-scale broad approach to the study of the pre-New Kingdom city and community of Thebes. 

Publications by project members on particular topics of interests, material culture, and texts of this period can be found in the following website


The MKTP team prepares the VI Season (Nov-Dec 2021)

The members of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project and the University of Alcalá expedition to Luxor prepare the VI Season of fieldwork in their Egyptian concession at the cemeteries of Deir el-Bahari and Asasif. The VI Season will run from November 1 to December 22, 2021.

The cancellation of the previous season, only a week after the team initiated its duties at the Theban cemeteries in March 2020, forced the team to modify the work pace and the types of tasks to develop after the return of all its members from Egypt. Indeed, the pandemic disrupted the regular work and implied a significative effort for the members. However, the team learnt to adapt to the circumstances and focused on new aspects of its research, mainly the preparation of new plans of work, the collection of fresh data, and the implementation of new methodologies and approaches. In these previous months, the team has prepared a general plan for the VI Season and, since then, has been working in the organization of an intense and productive season in Egypt. With this goal in mind, first, the expedition team has incorporated new members to strengthen new avenues of research (see below). Second, the direction of the project has incorporated new avenues of research that do not involve direct fieldwork but imply a significant expansion of the project and its research interests in Luxor. Finally, the MKTP has prepared an ambitious period of work in Egypt for seven weeks with a large number of local workers directed by the rais Ali Farouk.

Among others, the primary tasks to develop this season are the continuation of the excavation in the courtyard of the funerary complex of the vizir Ipi –where the team will also excavate several subsidiary tombs located in its eastern side– and the completion of cleaning and study in the sarcophagus chamber of the tomb. In the funerary complex of Henenu, the team will continue with the excavation of its courtyard as well as the shaft that archaeologists started to clean in 2020. At the same time, in the eastern sector of the necropolis a group of archaeologists will continue with the excavation of the main corridor in tomb E1 (MMA 521), which will help to clarify the date of the monument and the type of inner spaces in the tomb. Finally, a team of archaeologists will clean the façade area in the tomb of Dagi (in the Asasif area) and collect fragments and objects in this sector. A group of conservators will work in all these sectors to continue with the project goal of recovering, protecting and documenting the findings.

As for the team incorporations, this year several experts will join the team to continue supporting this initiative for the documentation and study of the necropolis. Émilie Martinet (Paris) joins the team of epigraphists and will contribute to the analysis of the inscriptions found in the tomb of Henenu. In relation to ceramics, Bettina Bader (Vienna) and José Alba (Jaén) will study the pottery repertories from the complex of Ipi. Meantime, in terms of landscape analysis and GIS, the team will get reinforced with the incorporations of David Laguna (Granada), Andrés Martín (Leiden), Didi El-Behaedi (Chicago) and Alberto González (Alcalá). In addition, the specialist Elsa Yvanez (Varsovia) will initiate the examination of the large assemblage of textiles found in the embalming cachette of Ipi. Regarding archaeological work, two new incorporations –Violeta Moreno (Madrid) and Nisha Kumar (Harvard)– will bring about new input to the excavations. Finally, regarding conservation work, the MKTP incorporates four new experts from University College London (Ella Andrews, Lily Griffin, Reed Hudson, Dean Sully) and one more especialist (Jaume Vilaró), who is working on his PhD at Naples University. All of them will join the conservation team and will be responsable for the treatment, documentation, and conservation of several monuments and many findings.  


Mummification deposit for a Middle Kingdom vizier discovered in Luxor

The Ministry of Antiquities has informed of the relocation of the embalming materials of Ipi, vizier, overseer of Thebes and member of the elite in the reign of Amenemhat I in the early Twelfth Dynasty.

Within the framework of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project –an international mission under the auspices of the University of Alcalá (UAH, Spain)– archaeologists cleaning the courtyard of the tomb of Ipi (TT 315) have relocated fifty-six jars filled with embalming materials for the mummification of the vizier. In his campaign in 1921-22 the American Egyptologist Herbert Winlock found these materials inside an auxiliary chamber located in the NE corner of the upper courtyard of Ipi’s tomb. Likely, embalmers and priests deposited the unclean equipment, bandages, oils, and salts used in the process of mummification. While a few jars, bowls, scrapers, and a mummification board (decorated with ankh-signs) were taken to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, fifty-six jars and the contents of these objects were left behind in this auxiliary chamber. The identification of these materials is of great importance for understanding the mummification techniques used in the early Middle Kingdom and the assessment of the kinds of items, tools, and substances involved in the process of embalming.

The deposit of the mummification materials used for Ipi included sixty-seven jars with potmarks and other types of inscriptions, various shrouds and linen sheets (4 m. long) shawls, and rolls of wide bandages, in addition to further types of cloths, rags, and pieces of slender wrappings destined to cover fingers, toes, and other parts of the vizier’s corpse. In addition, the team specialist Salima Ikram has identified what seems to be the mummified heart of Ipi, an uncommon practice that no doubt deserves more investigation. Furthermore, the deposit also contained around three hundred sacks with natron salt, oils, sand, and other substances, as well as the stoppers of the jars and a scraper. Among the most outstanding pieces of the collection are the Nile clay and marl large jars, some with potmarks and hieratic, various large bandages of 6 m. long, a shroud used for covering the body of the vizier Ipi, a fringed shawl with a length of 10 m., natron bags that were deposited in the inner parts of the vizier´s body, twisted bandages used as mummy packing, and small pieces of bandages for the upper and lower extremities. The collection of materials will provide to the members of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project an excellent opportunity for the scientific analysis of the substances, components, textiles, and human remains found in the embalming cachette, as well as the technical procedures and religious acts implied in the mummification of a high-official in the early Middle Kingdom. Although the amount of textile found is similar to the collection of linen materials stored for the overseer Wah, housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Ipi´s assemblage resulted from the mummification process itself.

The discovery has been made during the third season conducted by the University of Alcalá Expedition to Deir el-Bahari in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Luxor Inspectorate. The mission is overseen by the Manager of the Middle Sector (Deir el-Bahari) Ezz Er-Din El-Nobi, and directed by Antonio Morales, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Alcalá. The head archaeologist of the excavation for the tomb of Ipi and discoverer of the deposit is the Egyptologist Mohamed Osman (Freie Universität Berlin). The main purpose of the project is the archaeological study and epigraphy of the tombs of Henenu (TT 313) and Ipi (TT 315), the funerary chamber and sarcophagus of Harhotep (CG 28023), as well as the conservation and detailed publication of these monuments and others located at Thebes.

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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