Al-Ahram Weekly Online   23 - 29 September 2010
Issue No. 1016
Heritage
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Taken from below

A painted burial chamber of the 25th Dynasty priest Karakhamun was discovered this week on Luxor's west bank, reports Nevine El-Aref

On Luxor's west bank, amidst the magnificent tombs of the Valley of the Kings and Queens and ancient Egyptian nobles and priests, several excavation missions are digging up the sand searching for more burials in an attempt to decipher the secrets enveloped in Pharaonic history.

One burial spot this week was unearthed. At Al-Assassif, the site of tombs of New Kingdom nobles as well as those of the 25th and 26th dynasties, an American-Egyptian mission led by Elena Pischikova stumbled on what is believed to be the burial chamber of a 25th Dynasty priest called Karakhamun.

The chamber was found inside an eight-metre deep shaft inside Karakhamun's tomb while carrying out restoration work inside it as part of the South Assassif Conservation Project (ACP).

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Zahi Hawass said the chamber was very well preserved and contained "beautifully astronomical painted scenes". He added that the entrance to the chamber was decorated with an image of Karakhamun while the ceiling was painted with several astrological scenes, including a depiction of the sky goddess Nut, circumpolar stars and decans.

Pischikova said the tomb of priest Karakhamun was discovered in the 19th century in an unstable condition. It continued to deteriorate, and only parts of it were accessible to visitors in the early 1970s. Later it collapsed and was buried under the sand. In 2006 the ACP mission rediscovered the tomb and since then has been carrying out conservation work.

"Karakhamun's tomb is one of the most beautiful tombs of the 25th Dynasty because of the preservation of the colour and the unique quality of the scenes," Pischikova said. "Now," she continued, "the team is consolidating every fragment of the decoration found in the debris. The rest of the tomb must then be cleared of debris, the decorations consolidated and cleaned while the pillared are reinforced. Our final goal is to reconstruct the tomb in situ after restoring and placing all its fragments back to its original place."

Pischikova told Al-Ahram Weekly that one of the most beautiful scenes inside the tomb is found under Karakhamun's chair carved on the north section of the tomb's east wall. It features a dog skillfully carved with sharpness and precision.

According to the ACP website, Karakhamus is described as the most enigmatic figure in the Assassif necropolis. Nothing is known of his family and even he himself did not seem to have any important administrative positions. His priestly title does not signify any particular importance. His Nubian name is one of the reasons why studies that mention Karakhamun date his presence in Thebes to the 25th Dynasty. The tomb's architectural features as far as they are known also confirm this date.

Karakhamun's serpentine ushabti is of Nubian style with facial features that suggest a pre-Taharqo date, probably Shabaqo. "It is possible to suggest that it is the largest tomb in the necropolis with two pillared halls and multiple burial chambers," the website wrote, adding that it was built for a person of no important position who must have had close connections to the royal court or the royal family itself. Further exploration of the tomb could shed more light on its date and the identity of Karakhamun himself.

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