Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Opening of the Mouth ritual in the tomb of Harwa

The Opening of the Mouth ritual in the tomb of Harwa TT37 Miriam Ayad A progres report

This lecture was a serious treat and I look forward to Miriam publishing her work. That book is going to be one of the classics to keep on your shelves. She started with a back ground to the Opening of the Mouth ceremony and the work she has already done in various tombs. You may find this link helpful and she referred to Otto’s work continually through the lecture. Otto 1960. E. Otto, Das Ägyptische Mundoffnungsritual, Wiesbaden, 1960

The Opening of the Mouth ritual could be performed on a cult statue, a mummy or a temple. In 1960 E. Otto published examples of 75 scenes which could appear either as text, a scene or both. The ‘sen’ priest appears wearing a leopard skin and using an adze, he also appears presenting incense or pouring libations to be ritually purify the mummy.

The various scenes, using Otto’s numbering, are 2-7 and 57-75 are about ritual purification and 26 and 17 about opening of the mouth. Also the slaughtering of an ox appears and it is thought that there might be a north and south aspect to this and indeed the tomb of Rekhmire does show a different colour that might confirm this.
Anatomically the fore leg (kephesh) continues to twitch after death and this is sometimes used instead of the adze for the opening of the mouth.
The ritual in the tomb of Seti I starts in corridor G and goes to towards H and them on the opposite wall goes from H back to G. There are minor variations in text and in G sometimes the text is on one wall and the scene is on the other.
In the tomb chapel of Amenirdis the hieroglyphs are retrogrades which means you read into the back of the bird’s heads not into their beaks.
The scene numbering helps us understand how it was performed however Otto’s numbering is not always sequential and not all scenes are numbered.

This tomb was decorated at the same time as the chapel of Amenirdis and predates Petamenophis. It is the earliest tomb in the group of monumental tombs. The opening of the mouth appears on the walls of the 2nd hypostyle hall and appears on all walls except of the east wall. The pillars are at the present time unstudied. It is very difficult to study as it is in a poor state of preservation and missing its plaster. So they have to rely on the chiselling of the plaster coming through to the wall itself. They are concentrating on:-
• Copying
• Reconstruction
• Verifying Otto’ identification
• Production of a photographic record
Some of the fragments are the size of a pencil and she showed a series of slides showing the assembling of the jigsaw puzzle of pieces. One piece as it shows the end of a piece of text means they were able to identify the size of the preceding piece of text. There is a large area of lacunae and they are very gradually filling it.
One scene shows opening taking place with a feather.
There is a great deal of repetitiveness in the scenes and she gave numerous examples of this. They have also identified that the Upper Egypt text was on the south wall and Lower Egypt on the north wall. They are concentrating on using rare words to sort things Otto identified lots but they are identifying even more. So they are improving on Otto’s work, she is able to compare it with Rekhmire which is an odd tomb having many registers because of its unusual shape.
They are understanding the geography, the physical layout and genealogy. Also building on the work of Bjerke 1965.

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