Tuesday, 17 March 2009

KV63 Update direct from Otto Shaden


15 March 2009

Sorry for the delay, for I have intended to get this Update out very early in the month but too many things intervened. Of special concern was my presentation on the current work in the SCA lecture series presently weekly at the Mummification Museum. In the talk, I did manage to get in 68 images within 45 minutes.

The last of the storage jars was examined on February 18th. This concludes our pot clearance for KV-63. Though we had 16 jars to deal with this year (as opposed to the 12 which were examined in 2006), the artifacts which we hoped would fine tune our ideas on the date of the closing of the tomb in antiquity were simply lacking.
Very few seal impressions were found, one being another example of the “official” KV seal with Anubis and the 9 captives. Unlike the Year 5” wine from Tjaru found in 2006, no dates appeared in our 2009 materials.

We do have more natron to add to our stock, which will be weighed and tallied together with the 390 lbs. from 2006. We should have a bit more natron from Coffin E, but the rough tally for the moment is over 400 kilos or ca. 930+ lbs. of this material.
The ceramics continue to mirror the types from KV-54 and so the general “dating” to the Tutankhamun era remains firm. One unique item may be the fragile legless bed found in Pot 13 and restored by our conservators. Three wooden items (wrapped in linen) with 4 “prongs” or “legs” each may have served as the legs for our bed. We have enough such “prongs” for four items, but only 3 wrapped boards (ca. 50 cm in length) were found; the fourth was lacking. During a visit to KV-10 a few days ago, Dr. Zahi Hawass called particular attention to one of our SCA conservators, Amany Nashed, for her good work on the restoration of the bed. Dr. Hawass also suggested we try placing the bed on those unusual supports --- we did just that on the following day and they look like a good combination. The web site will eventually illustrate more of the bed and these possible supports in the near future.
For the final month of the season, there will more work on coffins, pottery mending and drawing. Essentially now we are having the study season for the remaining weeks.

As the first resin came off of Coffin E’s lid, it appeared we had the name of a woman, Btau/Butau, a fairly common woman’s name already in the Middle Kingdom and into the New Kingdom --- but after cleaning resin off the texts on the box, it became clear that the name included the “hnwt” (mistress) and was thus Henut-wadjbu, a common woman’s name in the new kingdom.

The full description for her includes “The Osiris, Henut-wadjbu, true of voice.” She must have been of lowly origins as she lacks any title to adorn her identity.

As we are about to copy the texts, we must also consider the order of the decoration, for the traces on the front vertical column do not indicate that Henut-wadjbu’s name appeared there as on the cross bands and end panel. For example, if the coffin was originally decorated for this lady, why are the thorough erasures ONLY on the front column? If first decorated for the woman, then why were not her names erased from the cross bands etc.?

The text column down the front of the lid has been very well eased. Not many signs intact to suggest a reading at this time. But on the front of the “toe” section was a single hieroglyph --- the seated man. This should be the determinative for the name and thus indicates that the name on that column was at one time was inscribed for a man.

Just a few days ago our conservators began removing resin from the lid fragments of Coffin B. These seem study and so if there is any decoration hidden under the resin, we should make some progress. After removing the resin from most of the two main lid fragments, we also removed resin from on the of the side panels. In each case, there were no signs of any prior painted or carved decoration. One gets the impression that the coffin may never have been completed.

We have only begun dealing with the resin on some of the very poorly preserved sides of the box of Coffin A, but despite the bad condition of much of the wood, we have found some interesting texts. After further cleaning we will send a report to Dr. Zahi Hawass and later provide more details in our next Update.

Some rubble left behind in the chamber of KV-63, for before we cleaned the floors in 2006 it was necessary to take down our pulley system in order to have an iron gate installed. This debris was removed and the floor is being swept clean.

Margot Wright has worked on the garlands and on the wooden “legs” (?) which were found with, but not attached to the lions head bed in Pot 13. Elise van Rooij has discovered that some pile of shredded textiles from Coffin A were once a towel or blanket, cf. her comments and images on our web site. Coffins A and B had a considerable quantity or ceramics, textiles and natron.

Now that Heather Alexander and George Johnson have departed for home, Archie Chubb and Maryann Marazzi will share photos duties and other tasks. Betty Schneider, Margot Wright and Elise van Rooij left just days ago.

SCA conservator, Adel Aziz Andreus, worked with us in 2006 and just recently joined our group to assist during the closing weeks of the season.

Artist Sue Osgood has been working with us for many weeks now, thanks to the generosity of Ray Johnson, director of the Chicago House (ORINST) Epigraphic Survey. Sue drew the mask of Coffin B, the small Coffin D and is presently working on Coffin G.

Pieter Collet completed the mapping of KV-63 and also drew our lion-headed bed.
He is now off to work on another mission.

Earl Ertman and George Johnson traveled home together some weeks ago and they encountered their now customary adventures with delayed flights, flight changes, etc., but they finally reached home safely. Meanwhile, Maryann Marazzi (former Egyptology and photography student at Memphis) arrived some days ago and will be with us until we are about ready to shut down the site.

With the variety of activities in our work and storage area in KV10, its pillared hall provides ample space for tables and the corridors above and below have storage for shelving and the many large storage jars. The large storage jars are lined up in G and H chamber in numerical order.

The season is rapidly drawing to a close, for we set ca. March 21 or so for a shutdown date, leaving a few days to pack up and lock the tomb, then a few more days so my packing at the hotel can be done. A short report for the SCA will be prepared while I am still in Luxor, then the last few days in March I will be in Cairo. My flight is scheduled for March 31st.

A recent visitor was Judith Price of the UK. Judith visits Egypt with some regularity not only to see the monuments but also in her role as a trustee of the SUNSHINE PROJECT UK which raises funds to support orphans in Egypt. She is also among our list of sponsors for the AMENMESSE PROJECT.

Emailing was an entirely new adventure for me back in 2006, but I gradually adapted
at the Etap Hotel. Using the wireless system on the west bank this season, the computer is extremely slow, more like an old manual typewriter with sticky and some missing keys! When this season began I was able to send some images, now that has become virtually impossible. When I get or answer the mails, I try to keep the messages as brief as possible.

We will try to get in a final Update from the field (or from Cairo) around the end of this month.. More images will also be added to the website ( www.KV-63.com ) during and after our present season.

Otto Schaden
Amenmesse Project

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