Monday, 28 January 2013

Mummification Museum Lecture TT49 Neferhotep

TT49
The first lecture of the season and many thanks to Barry Budd and Mansour Boraik for organising it. It was presented by Dr Violeta Pereya of Buenos Aires University and it on the conservation project at TT49.
Neferhotep was a high official at Karnak, he was not a priest but in the admin and a scribe responsible for cattle of Amun and for another area tentatively identified as textiles. This is a very important tomb as it has a depiction of Karnak temple which is important for our studies of the development of the temple and the current excavations. The project is 7 years old and they had many visitors sharing their knowledge and experience.

It is located at the north Khokha, next to TT187. When they started it was in the middle of the middle village but now the houses have gone. Ibrahim Soliman was instrumental in them choosing to excavate this particular tomb. The courtyard was full of debris from the family that lived there which was the grandson of Kareem Yusuf.

The tomb had been first excavated in 1920 by Davies. The project started in 1999 but that was just the planning. They had to decide what they would do
•    Excavation of the hall, chapel and passage
•    Tests in the slopping passage
•    Excavation of the usurper
•    Tests in front of the tomb
They looked for fallen pieces of wall decoration hoping to reconstruct missing pieces, made an enlargement of the courtyard by re-establishing the courtyard wall to make the site safe and secure. There is a stone wall on the north side and they created a mud brick wall on the south side. They tried to get information from the family but they were reluctant to give information (embarrassed?).

They did a through survey and found that the Davies plan was pretty accurate. The upper rooms were well documented but the burial chamber had some errors. Dr Violetta should us a slide with the Davies plan and the current survey. Davies had used facsimiles and tracings to document the tomb and the attachment of these was still visible. They have done a preliminary publication in Spanish showing the lower register in bad condition. The tomb has problems just a few of them fractured rock, soot, bat droppings, salts, lost pieces, microbiology and previous cleaning attempts. It is important to stabilise the tomb bearing in mind the problems from salts, the climate and geology. The cleaning of the tomb using laser started in 2006; it is not used on the entire tomb as different methods are more appropriate due to the underlying painting or condition of the painting. It is important to use the right cleaning method in the right circumstance. Laser cleaning leaves the patina. On the east wall south side they had to remove the mortar which was done by mechanical and chemical methods. This took 2 seasons, for them a season is one to three weeks. They always have to make a judgement whether it is better to leave something free for further research and study or to protect it. The east wall was unpublished and a virgin area for work. This year they did the east wall north side. It is important to record the both the history of the necropolis (intrusive burials etc) and the Pharaonic history when dealing with these tombs. It is a tiny tomb so if someone is working in a passage that stops access for the rest of the team. They find laser cleaning is most effective where the background is empty or on white clothing. There are scenes of the beautiful feast of the valley with ladies carrying long stems of flowers on the north wall of the chapel.

The team from the Franco Egyptian centre have spent a lot of time researching and identifying the areas of Karnak. The pylon depicted is the third pylon, the obelisks, and chapel and rooms of the Tuthmosis I, III and Hatshepsut are shown. It shows where doors are open or closed and this indicates who has access.
If you want more information try  http://www.crcnetbase.com/doi/abs/10.1201/b10567-10
Next week it is Suzanne Onstine on Panehsy TT16

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