Conservation and reconstruction work is always at the center of attention for the South Asasif Conservation Project. Our conservation team is working on the numerous architectural and decorative features in TT 223, TT 390 and TT 391.
Reconstructions of texts and images are the result of a very effective collaboration of epigraphers and conservators where academic research is complemented by an understanding of limestone, its coloration, natural veins and cracks and types of later damages. New joins are found every day by the conservation team with Mohamed Shebib being the leading “join-finder”.
Every new find adds to the digital reconstructions composed by Ken Griffin and Erhart Graefe.
In the case of this new suggested addition to the text of the Ritual of the 8th Hour of the Night, reconstructed by Ken Griffin, the photo was sent to Ken through Facebook Messenger for his approval and the fragment was placed on the pillar. Although Ken can’t travel from the UK these days, our remote collaboration is proving to be very successful. The latest example is a group of fragments found near the west wall of the superstructure of TT390.
The photos were sent to Ken, who identified the fragments as part of the text and vignette of BD 45 on the south pillar (SP2) of the Second Pillared Hall in the tomb of Karakhamun. Conservator Abdelrazk Mohamed Ali joined the heads of Anubis and the mummified figure of Karakhamun and passed them to Sherif Mohamed Shihat for cleaning.
They will be installed on the south face of the pillar.
The fragment of the text is added to the pillar by Mohamed Shebib. It joins perfectly with the fragments installed in 2016, which is a tribute to the precision of the digital and physical reconstructions produced by the team of the Project.
One of the reconstruction projects of October is the text and vignette of BD 32 on the north wall of the First Pillared Hall in the tomb of Karakhamun (TT 223).
The arrangement of the text and typology of the vignette was researched by Miguel Ángel Molinero Polo and Margarida Redondo Vilanova. (See Miguel Ángel Molinero Polo and Margarida Redondo Vilanova. “The Vignette of BD 32 in the Tomb of Karakhamun”, in Tombs of the South Asasif Necropolis: New Discoveries and Research 2012-2014, edited by Elena Pischikova (Cairo, New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2017), 175-160; Miguel Á. Molinero Polo. “The Textual Program of Karahkamun’s First Pillared Hall,” in Tombs of the South Asasif Necropolis, Thebes. Karakhamun (TT 223) and Karabasken (TT 391) in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, edited by Elena Pischikova (Cairo and New York: The American University in Cairo Press, 2014), 149.)
As expected, when it came to inserting the actual fragments into the suggested layout a lot of problems had to be solved and a lot of new discoveries were made.
The north wall of the First Pillared Hall was found severely damaged with only a few areas of carving remaining on the wall. When the clearing of Karakhamun started in 2006, a small area of carving in the upper area of the north wall was the first evidence of decoration still in situ in this collapsed tomb. The wall was cased with new limestone in 2019 and polished in 2020 creating an ideal surface for placing numerous fragments of its decoration found in the debris.
BD 32 was always the main attraction of the north wall because of the beautiful crocodile carved on the bottom of the wall.
Despite being headless, the force of the crocodile’s personality was evident from the strong muscles of the legs and elaborate ornament of the scales of his armored skin. Our monumental crocodile, standing firmly on his webbed feet always made us wonder how all four crocodiles of the vignette would look like, climbing up the wall to the ceiling. It was hard to imagine because the rest of the crocodiles survived only partially and in small fragments.
Katherine Blakeney satisfied our curiosity by recreating the three missing beautiful beasts, called “abomination” and “viper” in the text.
The main problem occurred when, based on the fragmented body parts and style of their carving, we identified five crocodiles instead of four. For the “Formula for Repelling the Four Crocodiles” associated with the west, east, south an north the fifth one was one too many.
The answer came through the identification of more fragments of the vignettes and new joins found by the conservators Ali Hassan Ibrahim and Mohamed Abu Hakim.
Since 2008, when most of the fragments were found we thought that three crocodiles were carved and one left as a preliminary drawing. Recent work showed that the crocodile of the South was drawn and carved in the same rectangular field assigned for each crocodile.
Fragments of more gorgeous heads and paws promise an impressive 3m high reconstruction of Karakhamun’s rare version of BD 32.
The drawings are being transferred to the wall via carbon paper by Katherine Blakeney and Mohamed Bedawy.
The saga of the four crocodiles continues.