Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1360, (14 - 20 September 2017)
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1360, (14 - 20 September 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Goldsmith’s tomb uncovered

The 18th Dynasty tomb of the goldsmith of the god Amun-Re has been uncovered in the Draa Abul-Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank, reports Nevine El-Aref

Painted wooden sarcophagus with mummy inside

Despite the heat wave that hit Luxor on Saturday last week, hundreds of Egyptian, Arab and foreign journalists, the crews of TV channels and photographers, as well as foreign ambassadors to Egypt, flocked to the Draa Abul-Naga necropolis on the west bank of the Nile to explore the newly discovered tomb of the goldsmith of the ancient Egyptian god Amun-Re.

Although the tomb belongs to a goldsmith, its funerary collection does not contain any gold. Instead, it houses a collection of stone and wood ushabti figurines of different types and sizes, mummies, painted and anthropoid wooden sarcophagi, and jewellery made of precious and semi-precious stones.


kulls found inside the tomb

“It is a very important discovery that sheds light on the necropolis’ history and promotes tourism to Egypt,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly. He added that although the tomb was not in a very good condition because it had been reused in a later period, its contents could yield clues to other discoveries.

“It contains a collection of 50 limestone funerary cones, 40 of which are evidence of the presence of four other official tombs,” El-Enany asserted.

He added that the discovery of the goldsmith’s tomb had come to light in April when the same Egyptian excavation mission had uncovered the tomb of Userhat, a New Kingdom city councillor. While removing the debris from the tomb, excavators had stumbled upon a hole at the end of one of the tomb’s chambers which had led them to another tomb.

“More excavations within the hole revealed a double statue of the goldsmith and his wife depicting his name and titles,” El-Enany said, adding that the find was significant because of the high number of artefacts found intact in the tomb.


wooden ushabti figurines of the deceased

In the courtyard of the tomb, he said, a Middle Kingdom burial shaft had been found with a family burial of a woman and her two children. “The work has not finished,” El-Enany said, adding that the excavation would continue in order to reveal more of the tomb’s secrets as another hole had been found within the burial shaft that could lead to another discovery.

“I believe that due to the evidence we have found we could uncover one, two, or maybe other tombs in this area if we are lucky,” El-Enany said.

Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr attended the ceremony as well as MPs, the Greek and Cypriot ambassadors to Egypt, the Chinese cultural attaché and the Swiss head of mission. 

Mustafa Waziri, head of the excavation mission and director of Luxor antiquities, said that the tomb had got its number (Kampp 390) as German Egyptologist Frederica Kampp had registered the tomb’s entrance but had never excavated or entered it.

The tomb, he continued, belongs to a goldsmith named Amenemhat and could be dated to the second half of the 18th Dynasty. It includes an entrance located in the courtyard of another Middle Kingdom tomb numbered Kampp150. The entrance leads to a square chamber where a niche with a dual statue depicting the tomb’s owner and his wife is found.

The statue shows the goldsmith sitting on a high-backed chair beside his wife who wears a long dress and a wig. Between their legs stands a little figure of one of their sons.

The tomb has two burial shafts, a main one for the tomb’s owner and the second one located to the left of the tomb’s main chamber. The main shaft is seven metres deep and houses a collection of mummies, sarcophagi and funerary masks carved in wood along with a collection of ushabti figurines. The second shaft bears a collection of 21st and 22nd Dynasty sarcophagi which deteriorated during the Late Period.

Waziri told the Weekly that in the open courtyard the mission had stumbled upon a collection of Middle Kingdom burial shafts, among them one that belonged to a family burial where a woman and her two children were unearthed. It includes two wooden coffins with mummies and a collection of head rests.

Early studies on the mummies, he said, had shown that the woman had died at the age of 50 and during her life had suffered from cavities in her teeth that had led to an abscess in her jaws and a bacterial disease in her bones.

Studies on the mummies of her two children, Waziri continued, had shown that they belonged to two adult males between 20 and 30 years old. Both mummies are in very good condition.


archaeologists work on mummies found in the goldsmith’s tomb

“This woman probably was in considerable pain as the size of her bones is abnormally enlarged,” osteologist Sherine Ahmed Shawki, who studied the bones, told the Weekly. Inside the coffin the head-rest of the deceased woman was found, as well as a group of pottery vessels.

One of the male mummies shows that he was also suffering from cavities during his lifetime, while the second one was probably put later in the same coffin because the bones are bare.

Archaeologist Mohamed Baabash, a member of the excavation team, said that the mission had stumbled upon several funerary objects belonging to the tomb’s owner. Among the discovered artefacts were the limestone remains of an offering table, four wooden sarcophagi that were partly damaged and decorated with hieroglyphic texts and scenes of different ancient Egyptian deities, and a sandstone dual statue of a trader in the temple of the Pharaoh Tuthmose III named Mah.

A collection of 150 ushabti figurines carved in faience, wood, burned clay, limestone and mud brick was also unearthed.


ornaments unearthed at the newly discovered tomb

The mission also unearthed a collection of 50 funerary cones, 40 of which are evidence of the presence of other tombs belonging to four officials. “The exact location of the latter has not been found,” Waziri commented, adding that according to the cones these officials were named Maati, Bengy, Rourou and the vizier Ptahmes.

“Questions about these individuals will be answered upon the completion of the excavations,” he said.

The other cones belong to Neb-Amun, a grain harvester and the supervisor of the god Amun’s grain storehouses, whose tomb is probably TT145, and Nebsenu, a high priest of Amun, whose tomb is probably Kampp 143.


El-Enany inside the tomb

The Draa Abul-Naga necropolis is well-known for its distinguished tombs of ancient Egyptian rulers and officials from the 17th Dynasty to the Late Period. It houses simple burials with few grave goods and the burials of top officials. During the Second Intermediate Period and the New Kingdom, the necropolis was the site of a residence cemetery as Thebes became the imperial capital and the seat of government.


archaeologists work on mummies found in the goldsmith’s tomb

Draa Abul-Nagaa also has a religious significance because it is a holy burial ground facing the Karnak Temple, the main cult centre of the god Amun.

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