Eastern sector

Historically, the eastern sector at the northern hills of Deir el-Bahari constitute the less examined area of the necropolis. Herbert Winlock and the expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York only investigated in detail the complexes of Meru (TT 240/MMA 517) and Neferhotep (TT 316/MMA 518) –resulting in significant findings– and tombs MMA 519 and 520; in Winlock´s own words, MMA 519 and 520 seemed to have been left unfinished. In general, the whole area in the northern hills gathered tombs belonging to officials who lived in the period between mid-Twelfth Dynasty and XIII Dynasty. The presence of a tomb in the area for a bowman called Neferhotep (TT 316), with elements of funerary equipment clearly dating to the late Twelfth or early Thirteenth Dynasties, indicates that this sector of the necropolis, the most distant from the temple of Mentuhotep II, might have been occupied by officials of the Theban administration during the Middle Kingdom; in opposition to other officials of the period, these individuals decided to build their funerary monuments in association to the ancestral necropolis of Deir el-Bahari. One of the examples for the location of tombs built well after the early Twelfth Dynasty is tomb E1 (also known as Carter tomb 4 in Carnarvon/Carter, Five Years' explorations at Thebes, p. 22 and as MMA 521 in Winlock´s notes, though such a reference was rarely used), which was incorporated in 2018 to the concession of the Middle Kingdom Theban Project and the University of Alcala.


One of the most significant complexes found in the area was the one built for the bowman Neferhotep (TT 316), whose tomb structure revealed the construction of a cultic chapel over the main entrance in the façade, where two block-statues of the deceased were deposited (currently in Cairo Museum, JdE 47708 y 47709). In addition, the funerary equipment found at the tomb, with a table of offerings, a statue of a tattooed dancing girl, ivory magical wands, a faience hippo, and a scarab, clearly helped to date the equipment in the late Twelfth Dynasty. The closest tombs, MMA 519 y 520, were also excavated by Winlock but did not provide much information. The scanty materials found in the area made his team to consider the possibility that the tombs were left unfinished. The three funerary complexes in the area (TT 316, MMA 519 and 520) have been considered the earliest constructions in this eastern section, being the result of later officials who wished to enjoy a post-mortem existence in the ancestral necropolis of the house of Mentuhotep and the early Twelfth Dynasty.


The easternmost funerary complex in the sector is tomb E1, labelled so by our archaeologists but previously receiving other labels such as tomb 4 (by Carnarvon/Carter) and MMA 521 (by Winlock´s expedition). Mirroring previous constructions in the western section of the cemetery, the courtyard of E1 shows an upper section built with mudbrick and a mid-lower section with walls made of stone. The inner section of the tomb consists on a rock-cut tomb, with a well-cut corridor, which archaeologists started to clean from debris and sand in 2018. Tomb E1 seems to have been remained unvisited for the last centuries, though it was clearly plundered in Antiquity. Work in this complex should clarify who was its owner and the dating of the monument.


The study of the eastern sector in the concession should allow us to deep our knowledge into the developing of the necropolis during the Middle Kingdom until the Thirteenth Dynasty. The identification of the officials who decided to build their tombs in this area of the hills, exposed to the visitors at the necropolis of Deir el-Bahari, will no doubt provide more evidence on the social and economic distribution of this large funerary territory whose major focus was the temple of Mentuhotep II and the impressive famous constructions of his time.