Saturday, 21 February 2009

Mummfication Museum lecture - Search for the 3rd cache – Prof, dr hab. Andrezej Niwinski

There are some lecturers that leave the audience in stunned silence because they have been so interesting and this was one of those. Actually it could have been a boring lecture because they have not yet found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and the clues are sparse but it was riveting. In fact he gave a lecture a while ago and although I remembered it I don’t seem to have any notes or a write up. I think it must have been in 2004 before I started blogging them. There have been follow ups which was one of first blogs Sadly this might be the last we here a friend of mine bumped into him after the lecture and was told that work has to stop as it is getting too dangerous for the temples underneath. Keep an eye on the website as well although only in Polish at the moment an English version is coming out in a few weeks. I used Goggle translator to have a look at it and wasn’t bad

Search for the 3rd cache – Prof, dr hab. Andrezej Niwinski

A mysterious tomb at Deir el Bahri – Revelations of the excavations of the Polish Egyptian Cliff Mission above the temple of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III

For the 30 years he has been pursuing this subject, in fact his PHD dissertation was on 21st dynasty coffins. The period 1800-1000 BC is poorly represented by coffins, from the Late Period we have 400 coffins but missing is the 21st dynasty High priest King Herihor who was almost a king. It is quite possible that his burial is also a royal cache and might be the location of the burial of Amenhotep I. Dr Andrzej believes that they are still to be found at or near Deir el Bahri. It is the centre of the whole necropolis and although the temple and courtyard are well researched there is little that has been done in the cliffs above the temple.

In 1891 the royal cache was discovered TT320 but largely the cliffs are unknown. In 1972 as a member of the polish team he concentrated on the upper floor which is on a centre line with Karnak. The Ancient Egyptians would not have ignored this as it was an important area. In 1991 a joint polish and Egyptian team started the cliff mission of which he is co director. Their aim was 1) to check there is no danger to the Hatshepsut temple and 2) to see if there is anything there.

Human Evidence
1) Graffiti of Butehamun the Elder
There are 250 pieces of graffiti and 7 of these are important, 5 of Butehamun are around the cliff edge 150m above the temple of Hatshepsut. Dr Andrzej believes that these are actually 2 person Butehamun the Elder was from the time of Herihor 21st dynasty and 60 years later there was a namesake probably from the same family perhaps even a grandson. He was the royal scribe of the necropolis, a real VIP who reported directly to the High Priest of Amun, like a Prime Minister yet he visits this remote location in the cliffs 5 times. In a 10m high chimney that needed ropes to get to he spent Dr Andrzej has spent 400 days there and it is tough. Not a place for a sedentary fat high official. Butehamun was not a tourist; this was an official visit, an inspection of something important

2) Tunnels, there are 10 tunnels made by ancient robbers, there has to be a reason

3) The ‘alpha’ boulder
At around 100 tons this massive boulder did not get there accidently, it is protecting something. It was a massive logistical problem to excavate 4m x 5m x 3m. It posed a danger for the Hatshepsut temple and could have caused an avalanche. Rain water had brought debris down. Another storm like the 1994 storm could easily have caused this boulder to roll down and land on the chapel of Hathor. The workman had to build a great platform and at the same time excavate on the other side of the boulder to make it go horizontally and then they could crush it. The debris up there contains old chips, naturally it should not go above 2m and yet they had 6m of debris containing old chips. It must have been brought there. The Ancient Egyptians made a big stone platform joined by mortar, a 3m high pillow of soft debris and then big rocks on top. There were 1000’s of old chips that had been brought 100 m up the cliffs on the shoulders of workmen. Traces of chiselling. They were deliberately trying to conceal something.

The ‘pillar’
The Ancient Egyptian invented a very hard mortar that looks like real stone but it is actually artificial, powdered limestone with a binder which looks identical to the original. They made a false bedrock with a 20cm layer of ‘cement’ and under that 2m debris. They also covered over tectonic fissures but only 2 out of several with the aim of protecting something underneath from rain water.

There is also a system of drains which also where there to protect and stop water penetration. The used natural drain way with artificial heads. They found an old wasp nest in the head of drain 1 so the drains must have been exposed at some times. The 2 m of debris must have come after that. There appears to have been 2 phases of debris, the second in 21st dynasty.

Detached part of the pillar (portcullis) and small cliff

The so called portcullis stone was excavated behind filled with cement containing faience pieces. They thought they would find tomb entrance under this. It was a huge logistical problem to excavate but they found a room ‘the cave’ 7m x 3 ½ m x 3m. Why, what was the purpose of this, why so much work when it was not a tomb entrance. Excavating the East wall they found another hole which led to the main entrance. The lower one was used by workmen to remove chips. Before the entrance there was a large cut in rock, some kind of protective device.

Is a blind alley with manmade walls and used to dump chips, here they found old chips. It has to date before the Tuthmosis II temple otherwise it would have put that structure into danger. The tomb of Amenhotep I is missing and the location fits the Abbot papyrus 57.3m or 120 cubits down north of the temple of Amenhotep I. The distance from the top of the cliff to the cave plus the 6 m inside is right. There w sonly 1 temple at that time Montuhotep, it had a real garden and was the temple of Amenhotep I as well the BM690 stele is evidence for this. The garden is indicated by the rock cut planters.

In their second season they found part of a dagger similar to that of king Kamose with parts of 3 faience beads, could this be the necklace of another king

The temples associated with the tomb before Tuthmosis III were from north to south
Amenhotep I
Tuthmosis I
Tuthmosis III

The Hatshepsut temple destroyed the Amenhotep I temple but the cult continued and the statue was moved to Montuhotep. Merytamun was the wife and her tomb could have also been a temple for her
The Tuthmosis I chapel, where was the first burial place, we only know the second. Could this be the location of the first burial?
Amenemhat was possible the son of Amenhotep I

When Ineni speaks of constructing the tomb no one hearing no one seeing was he talking about Amenhotep I or Tuthmosis III as he made tombs for both

Could Herihor have reused Amenhotep I tomb?

At this point there was a very interesting slide showing the various structures and their relationship and how they all seemed to be protecting an area further down the slope Geophysics suggest that at this point there is a void 11-12m down, under the area of investigation which may lead to a chamber which is located under the two protected fissure

It was totally fascinating and enthralling. I do hope we hear more


Geoff Carter said...

Great post, but apart from some details has much changed in the last 10 years?

Dylan Bickerstaffe said...

Please note that the royal cache was handed over to the Antiquities Service in 1881. The cahce discovered in 1891 (at Deir el Bahari) was the Bab el Gusus cache of 21st dynasty priests.

Fascinating explorations by Dr Niwinski. I'd love to see some photographs.