The team of the South Asasif Conservation Project is making great progress during another challenging season.
Some of our team members were unable to join us due to the travel restrictions in their respective countries. Everybody at the site is taking the challenge bravely and giving 110% to the work. Our Egyptian team works miracles and the season is developing very successfully.
Today we are presenting several highlights of our work in the first half of the season. With more team members arriving in the fall we hope to be able to post more frequent updates.
Members of the South Asasif team reunited for the 2021 season: Fathy Yassin, General Director of Antiquities of Upper Egypt, Elena Pischikova, Director of the Project, Katherine Blakeney, Assistant Director of the Project, Anthony Browder and Darren McKnight, sponsors and archaeologists, Ramadan Ahmed Ali, General Director of the Foreign Missions Department, Ezz Elnoby, Director of the Middle Area, Afaf Wahba, physical anthropologist, Hassan Mohamed Ali, archaeologist, Reis Mohamed Ali, Abdelrazk Mohamed Ali, leading conservator and manager of the Project, Ali Hassan Ibrahim, Taib Hassan Ibrahim, Hassan Dimerdash, Mohamed Shebib, Mohamed Bedawy, Mohamed Abu Hakem, Said Ali, Taib Said Mohamed, conservators, Hussein Mohamed Hassan, stone cutter, Katherine Bateman and Katy Ball, field supervisors and registrars, our great inspectors Megahed Abdelmawgoud Mohamed, Yasir Mustafa, Wael Abdelmawgoud Mohamed, Asmaa Saeed Abu El Hassan and Nura Said Tofik.
One of the biggest challenges of the season is the recreation of the vaulted ceiling of the Tornische in the tomb of Karakhamun (Reconstruction work in this area in 2018 was supported by an AEF ARCE grant). The deep, vaulted recess at the entrance to the first pillared hall is one of the most important areas in a 25th-26th Dynast tomb. Often the only tomb area lavishly decorated in raised relief, it was considered the main entrance to the tomb. The procession of offering bearers delicately carved in raised relief was reconstructed in 2018.  The entrance doorframe was reconstructed only with a hint of the vaulted ceiling. This season, our team of builders and stonecutters are constructing the vault as part of the reconstruction and conservation work in the open court of TT 223. The project has been launched and supervised by Abdelrzk Mohamed Ali.
Conservation work in Karakhamun continues, with hundreds of relief fragments being placed on the pillars, architraves and walls of the tomb’s pillared halls.
New fragments are being found, identified or reinterpreted on a daily basis. We are very grateful to our epigraphers, who can’t be at the site but are participating in the season remotely.
One of the most successful finds of the season is a fragment discovered outside of the southern enclosure wall of Karakhamun. Kenneth Griffin identified it as part of the text of the Ritual of the Seventh Hour of the Night. Using Ken’s digital reconstruction of the text and the work he did with the conservation team in 2019 we were able to place the fragment with a high degree of accuracy. Conservator Mohamed Shebib found direct joins for the new fragment with those already included into the reconstruction.
Another “new discovery” of the season is a fragment found in 2008. All this time it remained somewhat of a mystery. We always interpreted the image as the back of a chair with a strangely positioned seated figure. Only recently, working on the vignette to BD 17 we realized that the depicted piece of furniture is not a chair, but a lion-headed bed and the shape on it are the feet of a mummified body. It is a welcome addition to our growing collection of vignette fragments. It was about 15m long and we would be able to reconstruct close to 80% of the imagery. Some of the blocks are of a considerable size.
The south wall of the first pillared hall of Karakhmun is cased in new limestone and ready to receive the fragments. Annie Howard and Francesca Jones are working remotely to help with the reconstruction of BD 17, following up on their digital reconstruction.
Hassan Dimerdash “found” a significant section of the cavetto cornice from the Second Pillared hall of Karakhamun. Dozens of small fragments stored in numerous boxes are growing into a surprisingly well-preserved, brightly painted cavetto above the architrave. It will flank the central aisle of the hall creating a temple style processional path to the statue of Osiris.
The texts and images on the walls and pillars are being positioned and “mapped” by Katherine Blakeney and the conservation team. The resurrection of Karakhamun’s decoration continues.
Katherine Bateman and Katie Ball divide their time between stone fragment registration and field supervision. They make a great team and manage to accomplish a huge amount of work every day.
Darren McKnight did a tremendous amount of filed supervision at the start of the season.
John Billman, Sharon Davidson and Steven Feurer are arriving next week. Looking forward to seeing old friends again and having more work done.
Meanwhile, the dog of Karakhamun communicates with us in its own special way. He has sent us his personification. When we found this beautiful black puppy at the site he was barely alive. Today he is healthy and happy and growing fast into a living and breathing image of our logo.