Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Old Mumification Museum lectures KV63

This was my top story, I got 10,000 visitors to the blog the day I published it.

KV63 lecture by otto Schaden
9th March 2006
The lecture was great and there was a capacity crowd. In fact I don’t think there was a seat spare. He divided the talk into 2 parts. The preceding 2005 season where they discovered the top of the shaft and this season where they had discovered the actual tomb,

Although some people might think they had stumbled across the tomb it was actually the result of deliberate and serious excavation. The first slide showed the hillside in 1995 when there was a huge amount of rubble on the hill next to KV10; this rubble had built up over 67 years. In 1994 more rubble had accumulated when there was serious flooding n the valley.

The team had begun looking for foundation deposits in order to resolve the problem of succession around Amememese. KV10 was decorated by Amenemese but never used. Unfortunately no foundation deposits were found but lots of ostraca and tools were.

By 2004 they had excavated and found next to KV10 there was a man made chunk dug out of the hillside and they excavated it and stopped at the workman’s huts they found. Some of the huts were disturbed right down to the gebel (mountain) and Otto related how one tour guide told his group that this was the burial of the high priest!!! They dug the hut right down but did not follow the wall of the hut as this led into the floor of the valley under the roadway. However some of the floors of the huts had never been disturbed and therefore what was underneath them was not known. The last person to excavate in that area was Theodore Davies and they found a New York Times of 1907.

They then got to the Howard Carter 1 layer where he dug between KV10 and KV9. The Howard Carter 3 level actually rests on the gebel (mountain). The workman huts were late 19th dynasty and the walls of the intact floor went into the valley. So they asked the SCA for permission to extend the field of operations just a bit so they could look under this floor. The inspector drew a line with his feet on the floor and said they could work up to that line.

The floors of the huts showed evidence of dumped chippings on one side of the floor thus giving the floors a flat floor surface in a building on the side of the hill. They found a few pots but it was rapidly approaching the tine when they would have to stop digging and start to fill it in order to leave it safe for next season (the season for digging is approx Oct – Mar).

On March 9th 2005 as they dug into the dark Howard Carter 3 level white chips appeared so they knew there was something there. Then they saw one side of the shaft.

The shaft was filled with white chips and larger stones, at this point they called the inspector and reported the find as significant, really big. The shaft has an over hang very similar to that of Yuya and Thuya and KV55 so that was one clue that it was 18th dynasty. It is almost possible that this was the signature of the architect. We know a lot about the workman of the 19th dynasty but little about those of earlier times. A workman could be operational for 40-50 years.

At this point the huts still remained and the area was refilled and covered with sand bags and a retaining wall built.

That is how it was left at the end of the 2005 season.

(At this point the slides switched to power point on the PC)

At the beginning of this season they spent a month digging out the area and getting back to the shaft. They had no idea what they were dealing with.

Otto showed a slide of the tomb area which is quite large and goes back from the shaft towards the hillside. The shaft dimensions are 1.95 by 1.53.

At 2 metres down they were still finding rock chips and the occasional stone. They found rocks that were almost like those used to block a robber’s tunnel and fragments encased in plaster and these were a good sign that they were dealing with something. But sadly they also found evidence of termites however termites would not be going down there unless there was something there, so that was both a good and bad sign.

The termites were actually dated to the 19th dynasty as they start at the huts. Further down the shaft they found ostraca, one piece was a man with long straggly hair and bald top of the head with a carrying pole over his shoulder with bags hanging from it. The piece was very approx 10 by 40 cm

On the 10th February Dr Zahi Hawass made the official announcement and came to the tomb. At that stage the doorway was still blocked on the lower third and all the photos were taken through the top 1/3 of the doorway.

Otto mentioned the marvellous cooperation he has had from the SCA and thanked them profusely.

The team then had to completely clear the shaft and then the doorway. The blocking stones in the doorway were not original suggesting that the doorway had been opened and closed a few times. The original blocking stones were inside the tomb. So someone had re-entered and sealed the tomb in antiquity. It should be made clear that although sealing is mentioned there were no identify marks at all just white plaster. The tomb shaft was then filled and then eventually covered and the workman’s huts built on top.

The reason for the confusion over the number of coffins was because 5 were all they could see from the doorway but once they got inside they saw 2 more. So there are 7 coffins, 4 are in a really bad state of repair. Most are covered in black resin and there are no inscriptions visible. There is significant termite damage. The first 2 coffins are open and there are no signs of mummies, they appear to be filled with odds and ends, natron and bandages, however some of the other coffins are closed and their contents are unknown at present.

The identity of the coffins is totally unknown, it is possible they were added to over a series of time, it might be an embalmers cache or an important family all options are open at this time.

The conservators are at work trying to stabilise the first 2 coffins and as yet the team can not look at the others until these are out of the way. They are getting great cooperation from other archaeologists in the area. Chicago House was mentioned specifically.

There is a child coffin with a lovely yellow face. Speculation that this might be female is just that at this point, speculation. Inside the child coffin it looks like there is some kind of stuffing leaking out between lid and bottom. The termite damage is extensive and the result is like black tooth paste.

The coffins are surrounded by pots which are both leaning on it and the pots are approximately 75 cm high and there are loads of them. There is one alabaster pot next to a coffin. The top is sealed with plaster and underneath there is a layer of mud. Inside one they have found loads of little pots. There is natron everywhere, some inside little sacks. One coffin has glass inlaid eyes. There is one with crossed arms and a black face. The ones that have the resin on them might have to have this cleaned off to identify them, It is possible that this obscures the identify marks. The pots have been whitewashed while standing in sand and the bottoms show the original clay,

The first pots have been removed and have been wrapped in bubble wrap and hoisted to the surface. (Part of the hoist is the old pipe that Howard Carter laid the electricity through when there was a generator in Rameses X tomb).

They have opened 4 or 5 jars so far and found 40 miniature vessels, natron and scraps of material. It is a long drawn out process and they only get one shot so they have to take it bit by bit. They do not want to draw premature conclusions as this might close their mind to other possibilities. Otto doesn’t even want to guess how long it will take. They are using KV10 as a store room but this might prove too small. They are very anxious to find names. He has no idea when the season will end.

There was then a question and answer session.

Mention was made of Geoffrey Martin but Otto stressed that they did not find the tomb from his evidence. They found the tomb because when they excavated the workman’s hits there was one section with undisturbed flooring and they needed to find out what was under it.

They have not followed the wall of the huts and there may well be something to find in the centre of the Valley, The area underneath the old rest house has never been excavated and there is a water course between KV10 and KV6 that has never been followed through. Theodore Davies missed KV63 by a few meters.

A cache can mean many things, this does not look like a royal cache because there are no names or insignia. Also this was a much earlier period before the need for royal caches. It could be family vault but with no names this is just speculation. It would help the team tremendously if there were mummies. They can’t get to the closed coffins yet so do not know if there is anything inside them or not. The open ones are full of rubbish

The storage jars are almost identical to those in KV54

If this is a burial it is a very incomplete one as there are no canopics or ushabits, unusual not to have basic funeral provisions.

It is incorrect to identify gender on the basis of face colour; at this stage we have not idea of the gender. There are no specific signs of royalty.

There were other pieces of ostracha found as well as a scrap of papyrus with a lotus flower drawn on it.
1) a head rest drawn in charcoal
2) what looks like a cut out biscuit tray
3) part of a leg with the bottom carved

They found a free hand lotus drawn in the middle of stylised flowers

The miniature vessels are mainly simple cups and some bowls

They have opened 5 jars 23 to go and they weigh about 40-45 kilos

The termite damage is huge but they hope to save at least the faces and collars.

Many apologies for any errors, I know everyone wants to read this so I have done it as quickly as possible, please email me if I need to make any corrections

Posted by Jane: - 12:07 am - Edit| 43 Comments »
March 9th, 2006

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