Thursday, 24 July 2008

Mummification Museum Lecture - What we lost Prof. Martina Betro

What we lost (Tombs at Dra Abu Naga) – Prof Martina Betro University of Pisa

She gave the lecture this title because the tombs have been affected by many factors both human and natural over the years and this has altered their condition. There are 2 tombs TT14 and a new one called MIDAN 05. Every day they discover something new. Using a map provided by Goggle Earth she showed the lunar aspect of the area under investigation. They have used modern technology to map the tomb properly and she showed a slide of maps showing the tombs at ‘offering’ and ‘funeral’ levels. Currently access to TT14, the tomb of Huy, is by a flight of modern stairs going down. But when the tomb was first built it was at ground level. It is possible the hill side at Dra Abu Naga was a terrace of many levels. The tomb is Ramaside one, a single room with one chapel in a cartouche shape. They are not exactly sure exactly which Ramses although she thinks it is Ramses II. He was a mid to low person in the priesthood working in the cult of Amenhotep I which had big importance on the West Bank. The cult differs at Dra Abu Naga from that at Deir el Medina with the family taking greater importance than the king alone. Amenhotep the Image of Amun probably had Ahmose Nefertari standing behind him but this is lost. However a fragment has been found that had the black skin very commonly associated with her. Also Ahotep, the grandmother, who is shown with yellow skin.

The eastern end has a missing part which is replace with cement restoration repairing the breech. The decoration is of funerary and cult scenes and is a big contribution to our knowledge of these. There is a procession of statues and what looks like 2 queens but they are not sure if they are 2 different queens or not. The lower register, unfinished shows what looks like a funerary representation but this is not the funeral of Huy but some rite connected to the cult of Amenhotep I. These are free drawn without using a grid.

There is a procession of Gods going towards a building (again not the tomb of Huy). You can see the end of a boat approach the building and palm trees around. They think it is a temple but it needs more study.

Charles Gordon Jeff wrote about it in his notebook 1909. He mentions he put in an iron door and built retaining walls.

Norman De Garis Davies, whose notes were also in the Griffith Institute in Oxford 1925. It is interesting to compare the two, they are not very different.

It also appears in the porter and Moss plan and Fredrich Kamp plan of 1996

In 2003 the University of Pisa took over and discovered another passage leading to another tomb (given the designation MIDAN 05. It is a big tomb with a big courtyard and quite important. Currently access is only through TT14. They want to excavate it from the outside eventually. They don’t know the owner and although it was totally painted but all they have found is fragments.

It has pink gypsum mortar which indicates it was prior to Hatshepsut, so early 18th dynasty and a T shape design. The fragments that have been found are tiny, they found a white gypsum layer that had fallen from the walls, one piece with a black skin so probably Ahmose Nefertari. They do not know if the tomb was used in the 18th dynasty but it was certainly reused later on in the third intermediate period and later. It was an 18 dynasty enlargement of 17th dynasty tomb, which was again enlarged later in its life. It goes up to Ptolemaic times

Likewise with TT14 it seems to have been occupied in Ramaside, 20, 21 dynasty but use finishes 26th dynasty.

The factors that have caused disturbance
• Natural (flash floods)
• Human (reuse, robbers

The levels in the tombs are quite clear and they can easily identify the various flash floods over the years. Some of these floods have been quite violent and broke open coffins and almost destroyed the mummy. There was cartonage and a coffin all shoved together.

Ancient tomb robbers burnt the mummies to recover the gold and jewels so mummies that show evidence of burning indicate they have been robbed in antiquity.

They have also found a lot of pottery, pottery is rarely stolen!! But often it is a challenge to identify whether the pottery belongs where it was found or has travelled. Lots of scarabs and amulets but again difficult to put in context. A small (353) terracotta army of ushabities in their original wooden box which had been burnt by robbers.

They also found a mummy with a faïence beads and amulets of the 4 sons of Horus, the third one of which has only been found today, probably 25th dynasty

A 21/22 dynasty mummy board was reconstructed from fragments that were found. Laser scanning has been done enabling them to make a 3 d model another piece of modern technology is a GIS database of paintings.

The website is

This entry was posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2007

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