Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Ancient sarcophagus discovered

The burial chamber and sarcophagus of the 25th Dynasty mayor of Thebes were discovered this week in the South Asasif necropolis in Luxor, reports Nevine El-Aref

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Egyptian-American mission working on the South Asasif Conservation Project on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor this week stumbled on the burial chamber of Karabasken, mayor of Thebes and priest of the god Amun during the 25th Dynasty. The discovery was made during cleaning work at Karabasken’s tomb, number TT391, at the South Asasif necropolis.

Project director Elena Pischikova told Al-Ahram Weekly that the descent to the burial chamber had been found in the centre of the cult room, which features six niches on its north and south walls and the remains of a false door on the west wall. Excavation work in this area had revealed an angled descent 900cm long and 225cm wide leading to a burial chamber filed with flood deposits up to the ceiling.

“Clearing the deposits led to the discovery of Karabasken’s red granite sarcophagus occupying almost the whole space of the room,” Pischikova said, describing it as “a monumental and unique example of a Kushite sarcophagus in an elite tomb.”

She said the sarcophagus was 241cm tall with a base of 163cm and a lid of 77cm. It is 306cm long, 130cm wide, and the thickness of the base is 18cm. The base of the sarcophagus is a rectangular box with a rounded head, while the lid is vaulted with a convex upper surface and an almost flat lower surface. The sarcophagus is decorated with a single horizontal band 27cm wide without any inscriptions on its exterior surface.

“It seems the sarcophagus was subjected to two looting attempts in antiquity as the base and lid show deliberate damage in the head area and on the left side close to the foot,” Pischikova said. She said the interior of the sarcophagus had been flooded after the first attempt at looting, but further clearing would show if any fragments of the wooden coffin and other burial equipment were still preserved inside.

Pischikova said the architectural features of the descent and burial chamber had been designed to install and house a large sarcophagus contemporary with the original tomb. “The royal features in the burial apartment and sarcophagus of Karabasken are manifestations of the Kushite revival of past traditions and the assimilation of royal and temple features in the elite tombs of this period,” she said.

In 2006 the South Asasif Conservation Project started its work with the discovery of the two Kushite tombs of Karabasken and Karakahamun (TT 223) and the Early Saite tomb of Irtieru (TT 390). The project works under the auspices of the Ministry of Antiquities, and its Egyptian-American team has been working on clearing, conserving and reconstructing these tombs for 11 years.

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