Monthly Archives: August 2013

Recent Activities in South Asasif Part 2

Our incredible Reis Mohamed Ali El Ayat and the most skilful workmen of his team continue with the excavation of the court of the tomb of Karabasken. Years of experience help them to do a highly professional job and treat every find with skill and care. Behind the Reis are Said El Adly, El Hadj Ahmed and Mustafa Abu Gad. IMG_5281

The Project’s conservation team has been working on the reconstruction of the west and south walls of the Second Pillared Hall since the beginning of the season. They have achieved remarkable results in reconstructing the offering scene on the south wall and BD 15h, 50 and the False Door on the west wall. Their professionalism and hard work bring every reconstruction conceived on paper to a fast and superb realization. Standing in front of the west wall are  (from left to right) El Taib Hassan Ibrahim, Taib Said, Mohamed Abu Hakem, Hassan Dimerdash, Abd El Razik Mohamed Ali, Abd El Hady Taib, Mohamed Badawi, Ali Hassan Ibrahim,. Not on the photo: Said Ali Hassan, Mohamed Shebib, Saleh Selim and stonecutters Hussein Mohamed Hassan Mohamedin, Ahmed Badawi, Ahmed Ali Gassab, Mohamed Bedawi Gabbar.

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Dieter Eigner joined the team today to continue the work on the plan of the tomb of Karakhmun. He is finishing mapping the open court, a task started last year, and will continue with the entrance area including the remains of a mud brick superstructure found this season.

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Today is the last day for Kath Slinger. We are sorry to lose such a hard-working and charming team member. Kath did a lot of work on the registration of stone fragments and field supervision in the court. Today she brought soda and cakes for all the team members and the whole site had a chance to wish her a safe trip home.

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Patricia Maison looks particularly happy working on the Project’s databases. Patricia has been with us for years, coming back two or three times during a season. The Project is very lucky to have such a skilful and dedicated team member.

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Recent Activities in South Asasif Part 1

The team of the South Asasif Conservation Project is continuing work in several areas of the site. Excavation work at the entrance area of the tomb of Karakhamun has revealed the foundations of one of the pylons and enclosure wall of the tomb. John Billman and Hassan Mohamed Ali are supervising the work and recording the results.

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Erhart Graefe is working on the identification of the fragments of the Stundenritual texts to prepare the reconstruction of the northern pillars of the First Pillared Hall. The necessity to   sort thousands of fragments does not  make the task easy.

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Katherine Blakeney is always ready to climb any mountain or block of limestone to find a good camera angle.

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Here is John Billman multitasking again and spending his break registering newly found pieces of cartonnage.

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More tomorrow on the rest of the team.

Reconstruction Work in the Second Pillared Hall of Karakhamun

One of the primary aims of the 2013 season is the reconstruction of the western wall of the Second Pillared Hall of the tomb of Karakhamun. Aside from the false door, the western wall and its two connecting pilasters are decorated with chapters of the Book of the Dead. While only the lower courses remain, enough hieroglyphs are preserved in-situ to allow for an identification of the texts (fig. 1). Once the texts have been identified, the challenge of searching through the many thousands of stone fragments begins in earnest. Texts that are being worked on are arranged on the ground. The conservators and epigraphers sometimes have to go through hundreds of shelves and boxes in search of any joins to the texts.

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South-western section of the wall at the end of the 2011 season.

The south-western section of the wall is decorated with Chapter 15h and 75 of the Book of the Dead, separated by a statue of Karakhamun as Osiris. Chapter 15h is a hymn to the setting sun, which explains the choice of the tomb designers in placing this text on the western wall. So far, over 50 fragments belonging to Chapter 15h have been identified, including a beautiful vignette of Karakhamun kneeling before the enthroned Re-Horakhty. As well as being reconstructed on the ground, the fragments are also reconstructed digitally, using photoshop (fig 2). This allows for the exact position of the fragments to be determined, thus facilitating the actual reconstruction on the wall of the tomb. Chapter 75 is less well preserved at present although, just recently, a number of important joins were made that connect the south-western section of the wall with the pilaster (fig 3).

Fig. 2. Photoshop reconstruction of Chapter 15h.

Fig. 2. Photoshop reconstruction of Chapter 15h.

Fig. 3 Recent join to the corner of the south-western wall and the pilaster.

Fig. 3 Recent join to the corner of the south-western wall and the pilaster.

The south-western pilaster is inscribed with chapters 50, 57, and 91 of the Book of the Dead. While Chapter 57 (south face) contains few fragments, over 50% of the texts from both Chapter 50 (east face) and 91 (north face) have been identified. Additionally, almost the entire vignette of Chapter 50 has been preserved, depicting Karakhamun striding out of the tomb while his ba-bird and the benu-bird are perched beside the representation of the tomb entrance (fig. 4). Chapter 50 is particularly common in the tombs of the Late Period (Harwa, Pabasa, Sheshonq, Padihorresnet, and Ankhhor) and it is thus possible to compare the writing in the tomb of Karakhamun with these slightly later examples.

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Figure 4: Vignette of Chapter 50.

The tomb of Karakhamun continues to surprise us. When excavations of the tomb started in 2006 it was unknown how much of it had been preserved. It is now known that almost 60 separate chapters of the Book of the Dead were inscribed on the walls of the tomb. The tomb of Karakhamun clearly has a major role to play in our understanding of the evolution of the Late Period Theban tombs, both architecturally and textually.

-by Kenneth Griffin