The South Asasif Conservation Project is an Egyptian-American (international) mission working under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and directed by Dr. Elena Pischikova. The SACP was founded in 2006 with the goal of clearing, restoring, and reconstructing three tombs of the Theban South Asasif necropolis: Karabasken (TT 391), Karakhamun (TT 223) and Irtieru (TT 390). By this time, the tombs were critically damaged by floods and later occupants, which resulted in them being buried under the houses of a modern village. The tomb of Karakhamun collapsed entirely, while those of Karabasken and Irtieru were half-buried beneath layers of debris and still used by the villagers. As several still-visible features appeared severely damaged, the tombs were considered irreparably destroyed. Tens of thousands of carved and painted fragments of the original decoration were found during the excavation of the tombs, making it possible to plan and start executing their reconstruction.
The main objectives of the SACP are to give priority to the conservation and reconstruction of ancient monuments in situ, working in close cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Qurna inspectorate and Conservation Department. The work is being undertaken by members of the Ministry’s conservation team, Abdelrazk Mohamed Ali, Ali Hassan Ibrahim, Taib Hassan Ibrahim, Hassan El Dimmerdash, Said Ali Hassan, Mohamed Abu Hakim, Mohamed Ahmed Hussein Shebib, Taib Said, and Mohamed Badawi, under the supervision of Abdel Nasser Ahmed Abd El Azim, General Director of Museums and Restoration in Upper Egypt and Bedawy Said Abdel Rahim, General Director of the Luxor Restoration Department
The site development and educational goals of the Project are to open the South Asasif necropolis to the public and develop it into a learning center visited and appreciated by Egyptian and foreign visitors. The South Asasif necropolis will be dedicated to raising the level of understanding and appreciation of the Kushite and Saite Periods of Egyptian art and culture through observation of the reconstructed tombs, access to specially developed educational materials (signs, labels, brochures, guide to the necropolis), and photo exhibitions in the projected visitor center.
The publication program includes regular publications of newly found or reconstructed material in order to make it part of the scholarly discussion with minimal delay. The research and reconstruction work of the Project highly benefits from scholarly dialogue with other missions and projects working in the Theban necropolis and beyond. The recurrent Thebes in the First Millennium BC conferences organized by the Project have become an important discussion platform for scholars of the Third Intermediate and Late Periods. Two conferences were held in Luxor in 2012 and 2016, the third conference is projected for 2022. (See “Publications” page for references).
Throughout fourteen years of work, the Project has amassed a team of Egyptian and international scholars from the USA, UK, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Canada, and other countries.
The supervisors of the main areas of work are: Abdelrzk Mohamed Ali (conservation), Hassan Mohamed Ali (excavation), Mariam Ayad (epigraphy), John Billman (registration and study of objects), Katherine Blakeney (Assistant Director of the Project, photography, archaeological drawing), Marion Brew, Julia Budka (pottery, temple-tomb studies), Sharon Davidson (supervisor of European volunteer program with John Billman), Dieter Eigner (survey, mapping, architecture), Erhart Graefe, Kenneth Griffin, Salima Ikram, Matthias Müller (Coptology), Paul Nicholson (faience objects and production), Elena Pischikova (Director of the Project, art history), Afaf Wahba (bioarchaeology, archaeozoology).
Sponsors and Patrons
South Asasif Trust, directed by John Billman (London, UK)
American Research Center in Egypt
Jack Josephson and Dr. Magda Saleh