Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Old Mummification Museum lecture Luigi Vassalli

Mummification Museum Lecture - Francesco Tiradritti - Luigi Vassalli

His archaeological season at Dra Abu el Naga 1862 -1863 – Francesco Tiradritti 19/11/6Before Francesco started digging at Harwa he was conservator at Milan Museum and whilst he was there he was shown the manuscripts of Luigi Vassalli. Although largely forgotten these days he was a significant figure in Egyptian archaeology.

He was born 8th January 1812. He took a drawing course in Milan but when he was 18 years old he joined the revolution and was subsequently exiled. He earned a living as a painter. He came back in 1848 to take part in another revolution but that also failed so he was forced into exile again. He went to Turkey and married a beautiful wife but after she died he went travelling again and ended up in Egypt. He earned a living as a painter, tour guide to the wealthy and dealer.

The papyrus of the robber’s trial was one of his deals. In 1856 he met Mariette when he sold him the coffin of Intef V. When Marriette’s assistant (Bonfar?) who was working at Medinet Habu died Mariette asked Vassalli to become his assistant. He worked from 1859 – 1881 in the antiquities department. In 1887 he committed suicide as he did not want to live any longer.

During his career he was under the shadow of Mariette and besides him when he died. However he was personally responsible for many things, the costumes for Aida were under his control. The façade of the Egyptian Museum has his name, the only Italian to appear. He spotted the sarcophagus of Khufu and it was his decision to cut the Medium geese and the way they were cut betrays his artistic eye.

In the summer of 1860 he asked for leave and joined Garabaldi’s Thousand. He was a first class curator at Naples Museum but eventually was forced to return to Egypt.

In 1861 he explored Tanis and found the so called ‘400 year’ stele from the court of Seti. Vassalli wrote a history of the stele.

In 1863 Mariette sent Vassalli to Dra Abu el Naga to draw the coffins of the high priests of Montu, these have now been lost. He found the coffins of Yahotep and Kahmose and the golden fly’s necklace of Ahmose Nefertari. He would continue to excavate in that area and personally supervised the excavation. His manuscripts are not complete but he recorded tombs like 104 Amenemhet I of XII dynasty. There are many coffins which re now lost which were recorded by Vassalli. One inscription says ‘the man with the wig’ which would be a special title like a man with big nose. Another strange name sounded like Misship North Syrian. There were 4 coffins in the tomb 2 anthropoid and 2 rectangular. Tombs could have been used for more than one centaury.

Vassalli also record another tomb and set of lost coffins from tomb 155 from the time of Thothmosis III. Francesco thinks that he has located the area of the tombs near tomb 155. Near the plain where the coffin of the tombs of Intef were found.

Another tomb had 3 rectangular coffins one with the inscription ‘she is not our daughter’ !!! There were bronze mirrors and the mummy of a woman and child suggesting a possible death in childbirth.

In tomb 100 coffin 2 the most interesting inscription was on the lid which seem to show a king list of sorts

Sened Unidentified Antef XI Mentuhotep II


Sesosteris II Sesosteris III Sekhaenre Ahmose


It is a coffin of a woman and Francesco proposed that the top line was her mythical ancestors and the bottom line her actual ancestors. The juxtaposition of the supposed hated Hyskos Sekhaenre and Ahmose is interesting. Sened is connected with the south and the founder of the second dynasty. Ahmose also has a Thebes connection. The hypothesis is that this inscription was a genealogy

Tomb 67 had 2 rectangular coffins. In 1994 Francesco had to put together an exhibition at the Cairo museum and for that he tried to pull together all the contents that were found. Inscriptions from these contents revealed various titles and personalities like ‘acquainted of the king’, Hornakht ‘the one who has access to the king’ which is a middle kingdom title. The king’s son Tjwiv, follower of the Lord in his movement’ the son of Re To who lives. Francesco left the title kings son and did not change it to prince as sometimes this can mean bodyguard.There was a senet board which was of Hyskos production, a box with Min Lord of Koptos Minemhat, A vase and a cosmetic spoon with Sobeknakht Governor.

So 4 objects

Tjuiu kings son ThebesSobeknakht Governor Hierokompolis

Minenhat Governor Koptos

Idi Governor Also a vase of Sobeknakht found in a tomb.

All these items taken together show that the start of the war it was Nubians that attacked not Hyskos and there was actually a good relationship between the Hyskos and Ahmose s demonstrated by the ladies coffin. In addition the wounds on the face of SekennreTao II look like arrow wounds and arrows were favoured by the Nubians.

Around the area are many tombs of the late XVII dynasty concubine, ambassador, artist and priest. The hillside is pyramid like and Kamoses was found on the plteau below. Mariette may have ‘planted’ it so it could be ‘discovered’. There are also two other Intefs buried in the same area.

Francesco’s proposal is that this was a XVII dynasty necropolis with the possible tomb of Amenhotep I nearby with the path to the West and the Valley of the Kings.

He will be publishing this; British Museum publications on II Intermediate period, together with all the drawings.

Many apologies for the poor quality of the notes his accent is a little hard to understand especially when he is excited and speaking fast, as ever I welcome corrections and amplifications.

Posted by Jane: - 12:17 pm - Edit| No Comments »
November 12th, 2006

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