Tuesday,23 May, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1341, (20 - 26 April 2017)
Tuesday,23 May, 2017
Issue 1341, (20 - 26 April 2017)

Ahram Weekly

World Heritage Day

Luxor celebrates with the reconstruction of a colossus of Ramses II and the unveiling of the discovery of an intact 18th Dynasty tomb, reports Nevine El-Aref

World Heritage Day

The discovery of an almost intact tomb of an 18th Dynasty nobleman named Userhat provided the icing on the cake for celebrations of World Heritage Day.

The discovery was made by an Egyptian mission working at Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis on Luxor’s West Bank. It is a typical example of a nobleman tomb comprising an open court leading into a rectangular hall, a corridor and an inner chamber.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany described the discovery as very important. He told Al-Ahram Weekly it is almost intact and most of its funerary collection had already been excavated.

Mustafa Waziri, director-general of Luxor Antiquities and head of the mission that found the tomb, said its contents included 10 well-preserved painted wooden coffins and eight mummies in various states of preservation.

A collection of more than 1,000 ushabti figurines and wooden masks were also uncovered. The ushabti figures were found in a sunken chamber, in one of two rooms accessed by a nine-metre deep shaft. They were discovered alongside skeletons and wooden anthropoid masks. The second chamber has yet to be excavated.


World Heritage Day

The inner, upper level chamber contained sarcophagi from the 21st Dynasty with mummies wrapped in linen and ushabti figurines in faience, terracotta and wood and various clay pots. Entrances thought to lead to two integrated tombs were also located. Excavation work will continue until they too reveal their secrets.

Archaeologist Sherine Shawki, a specialist in Osteology, told the Weekly that early studies carried out on the mummies and skulls reveal that one was anaemic and probably suffered severe toothache while a second had undergone primitive surgery.

At Luxor Temple, the Ministry of Antiquities unveiled the fourth of the six colossi of Ramses II that once decorated the façade of the temple’s first pylon. Damaged in antiquity it has now been lifted after a year of restoration and reconstruction.

The six colossi sustained damage during the fourth century AD when an earthquake hit the area, says Waziri. Three completely collapsed.


World Heritage Day

In 1958 an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Mohamed Abdel-Kader uncovered one of the collapsed colossi which had broken into 57 parts. The blocks were moved to wooden shelters on the western side of the first pylon.

Work on reconstructing the colossus began in November 2016. It is now fully erect in its original position. The newly reconstructed black granite colossus weighs 75 tons and stands 11.3 metres from the base to the crown. It depicts Ramses II standing and wearing the double crown. Beside him stands a 1.5 metre statue of his wife Nefertari.

El-Enany was joined by French Ambassador to Egypt André Parrant and Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr for the inauguration of a photographic exhibition celebrating 50 years of Franco-Egyptian cooperation at Karnak Temple.

The bilateral agreement that led to the creation of the French-Egyptian Centre for the Study of Karnak Temples (CFEETK) was first mooted in July 1967 by Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, UNESCO representative in Egypt. On 11 June 1970 the plans were finalised by the Egyptian and French ministries of culture, creating a unique cultural heritage facility in the Nile Valley.

Christophe Thier, director of the CFEETK, told the Weekly that in order to explore Karnak’s multi-millennial history and pay tribute to CFEETK’s work for over five decades, this open-air photographic exhibition opted to follow a nonlinear path: archival images are displayed alongside contemporary photographs taken across the temple complex. Photographs lean against walls and hang on banners draped over scaffolding. Some are even displayed in the Sacred Lake.

El-Enany also visited the Luxor Museum where a colossus of Amenhotep III is now on display after being moved from his funerary temple on the West Bank.

The Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, directed by Hourig Sourouzian and Nairy Hampikian, oversaw the conservation of Amenhotep III’s colossus. It depicts the pharaoh seated on a throne with his hands resting flat on his thighs, wearing the nemes headdress and a pleated royal shendyt (kilt) held at the waist with a belt decorated with zigzag lines and closed by an oval shaped clasp. A broad collar adorns the king’s chest and the throne jambs and back pillar of the statue are inscribed with the names of the king.

Carved in black granite, it is extremely well worked and highly polished. It is 248cm high, 61 cm wide and 110cm deep.

After restoration the colossus was moved to the garden of Luxor Museum where it will be displayed next to its twin, discovered in 2009.

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