Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mummification Museum - The Lost tomb of Amenhotep – Dr Laurent Bavay

The Lost tomb of Amenhotep – Dr Laurent Bavay

This is his website www.ulb.ac.be/philo/crea which he told me does not have details of the subject of the lecture on it yet but obviously will be updated in future. It does have details of their past seasons and in English as well as French

The discovery of this tomb was announced by Dr Zahi Hawass in March 2009. The team have been working for 12 seasons since 1999 at Gurna in the southern part of the necropolis above the famous tomb of Sennefer TT96. They have been working on the chapel TT96a and the next door tomb TT29. They have been doing conservation in TT96A and archaeology in TT29. TT29 Amenemope was a cousin of Sennefer and a Vizier under Amenhotep II. Percy Newbury noted it contained the duties of a vizier but it has never been excavated. During their excavation they found evidence of a Coptic occupation. There were many hermitages and monasteries on the Theban hillside. This particular hermitage belonged to monk called Frange and they found lots of ostraca detail his life. He showed us one piece O.29401, which was so personal and said he had come to see someone and would be ‘back soon’. Altogether they found 1,200 pieces and have been able to recreate his daily life. There was also a pit which would have contained a loom at which he would have worked. The hermitage was in the courtyard of TT29 which was t shaped with 10 pillars. To the south of this tomb was a donkey stable and in 2006 they started a test excavation and found mud brick structures indicating another hermitage, another Coptic occupation in the courtyard of an unknown tomb.

However sadly Roland Tefnin 1946-2006 died in and Dr Laurent felt the next two seasons should concentrate on consolidating and publishing all the current finds before they went on to another excavation. The first volume of TT29 is currently on his desk.

So it was not until 2009 that they could get back to the stable. Firstly they documented the remains of the modern house (personally I was very happy to see this, after all in America a hundred year old house would be ancient history). He said it was very important to document these early 19th century houses as they were as much a part of the history of Luxor as Pharaonic remains. These dwellings came about because of the European demand for antiquities, both fake and real. The early ‘tourists’ were coming to Thebes in droves and the locals made a good living selling to them. There is a photo from 1905 showing this house.

Underneath the house was the Coptic occupation. There was a short flight of stairs going from ground level to the courtyard, various rooms, and a mud brick wall. Inside a room there were two mud brick beds which were used by the hermit and his companion (a young acolyte?). There was lots of organic material, food, pottery shards, and wine amphora. One ostraca is a really important piece containing a lexicon of Arabic expressions and their Coptic translation which is a unique document.

Under the Coptic layer a very small hole led into the tomb. It is large with pillars, t-shaped and 18th dynasty. The ceiling still carries paint but the walls and pillars have all been lost. There is no fire damage and there are bands of text giving the names and titles and genealogy of the occupant. There is Amarna damage removing the Amen from his name Amenhotep. He was the deputy of the overseer of seal bearers, conceived of the overseer of the horned cattle of Amun, his wife was Renena a chantress and her father was Sennefer. So he was the deputy of his father in law.

This was not a new tomb but a lost tomb as it had been documented in 1886 by Karl Piehl, he had made a copy of the text of the ceiling and it was identified as Lot Tomb C3. There are lots of these lost tombs, which someone visited and took notes about but neglected to give a location.

How on earth do you lose a tomb, well the debris on the hill side can easily slip down and cover the entrance. ()the recent rain storm would have washed debris down and bigger rainstorms can wipe away all evidence) He showed a picture of the entrance to TT119 that was covered by debris.

Inside the tomb there was lots of evidence of where the walls had been cut away and removed by plunders, they even found the guilty saw.

His father in law served under Tuthmosis III and his tomb TT99 is very close. It was excavated by Nigel Strudwick from Cambridge University http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/tt99/ and has almost identical ceiling decoration indicating that it could be the same artist at work. Inside this tomb Nigel found JE99146 a statue which is not of Sennefer but of our man Amenhotep.

The excavation is still ongoing and this season should last about another two weeks. There was another small hole leading to the transverse hall and they sent a camera down. It has a decorated, vaulted ceiling but again the walls are lost.

NEXT WEEK Dr Zbigniew Szafranski on the Royal Family Necropolis of the Third Intermediate Period at the temple of Hatshepsut

As ever I appreciate any corrections


Vincent said...

Hi Jane,

The link you gave (wwww.ulb.ac.be/philo/crea ) is a dead link, at least it is not working for me.

Jane Akshar said...

Sorry to many wwww's I will edit the post