Summarising the main work tasks and aims of the Ankh-Hor Project

The last days and week have been very hot here in Munich – of course not as hot as in Luxor and Egypt, but enough for a real summer feeling.

Since I was originally scheduled to arrive in Egypt this weekend, this is at least some comfort. Due to the current covid-19 situation, our 2020 season working on the tomb of Ankh-Hor had to be cancelled and we very much hope we will be able to return to Asasif in 2021.

Since I am missing the daily view of the splendid Theban necropolis, I just thought I make a very short video. These 6 minutes illustrate the main work tasks and the main aims of the Ankh-Hor Project.

https://cast.itunes.uni-muenchen.de/vod/playlists/nCrNSJLINC.html

I hope you enjoy it and let’s all keep our fingers crossed that the virus will soon be under control – worldwide and of course in Egypt. Wishing all of you a very nice summer and please stay safe!

New publication on the Ankh-Hor project

While the world and also Luxor with the Asasif necropolis all hold their breath because of the covid-19 crisis, a new issue of the journal Egypt & the Levant has been published in Vienna. I am proud that this volume also includes an update on the Ankh-Hor project (Budka 2019).

There are still plenty of information to unveil from the tomb of Ankh-Hor.

In this article, the most important results from the 2018 and 2019 seasons are summarised and future work is outlined, especially regarding the large corpus of coffins from TT 414. The focus is here on the numerous Ptolemaic coffins and the information they hold for patterns of re-use, but also for religious, cultic and iconographic aspects of Late Egyptian funerary tradition in Thebes.

Our permissions for the next season in the Asasif in fall 2020 were already granted – so let’s hope that we can also actually continue our consolidation and documentation work on the important finds from the tomb of Ankh-Hor. For now, of course the only priority is to stay safe and to stay home – the crisis will be over some day and we all have to stay patient!

Reference:

Budka 2019 = J. Budka, TT 414 revisited: New results about forgotten finds from the Asasif/Thebes based on the 2018 and 2019 seasons of the Ankh-Hor Project, Ägypten und Levante 29, 171‒188.

Back from the ICE 2019 in Cairo

Wow, it has been a very intense and very stimulating week at the International Congress of Egyptologists last week in Cairo. Besides stunning settings for dinners at Manial Palace and the Citadelle, there was much food for thought in the lecture halls. Especially intriguing were presentations of new results from the Theban necropolis and beyond – there is so much current fieldwork in Egypt that one week can barely cover all of these missions and projects!

I myself presented the LMU Ankh-Hor Project at the ICE.

I talked about some new data which allow an update on the use-life of TT 414, the 26th Dynasty tomb of Ankh-Hor. The important aspect here is that I believe it can be used as a model for other temple tombs in the Asasif. I also summarized the history of research of TT 414 and stressed the important aspect of joining data from museums and collections and the Austrian excavations in order to reconstruct the actual tomb groups from TT 414.

Looking already now much forward to the next ICE, this time in Leiden!

Summer in Luxor, Munich and Vienna

Time flies by – on such a rainy day like today in Munich, summer really seems to be over… My recent study season in Luxor was very successful and despite of the high temperatures really productive.

The necropolis of Asasif on an early August morning.

The South Asasif Conservation Project directed by Elena Pischikova had made fantastic discoveries this season and the corresponding ceramics were exciting to process. Of course I was especially looking for parallels for TT 414, the tomb of Ankh-Hor. This season, not only nice comparisons from the second heyday of the Asasif during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC showed up, but also intriguing pieces from a little understood period, the late 26th Dynasty and the 27th Dynasty. Especially the latter are important because, as clearly stated by Wolfram Grajetzki already some years ago: „The period of the first Persian domination remains something of a mystery for archaeology in Egypt. There are very few monuments and even fewer tombs that can be securely dated to this time“ (Grajetzki 2003, 117). Especially within Thebes, burials attributable to the Persian Period (27th Dynasty) still remain an enigma and are difficult to date (see Aston 1999), but ceramics from both Southern and Northern Asasif clearly attest to the funerary activities during that time. Much more research is required here!

For now, some post-excavation work is necessary for the 2019 South Asasif season and I am busy with entering data into the database. Next week, Vienna is calling and the focus will be more on Sudan and the MUAFS project. All in all, this summer was not only hot in terms of temperatures, but also extremely interesting and inspiring for my projects in Asasif and beyond.

References

Aston, David A. 1999. Dynasty 26, dynasty 30 or dynasty 27? In search of the funerary archaeology of the Persian period, in: Studies in Ancient Egypt in honour of H. S. Smith, ed. by Anthony Leahy & John Tait, London, 17–22.

Grajetzki, Wolfram. 2003. Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt: Life in Death for Rich and Poor, London.

Getting ready for a study season in Luxor

Here in Munich, the summer seems to be coming to an end – at least in terms of weather and temperatures. It has been quite cool during the last days and it’s just about time to go to Egypt for more sun and heat ;-)!

I am therefore delighted that later this week, I will be travelling to Luxor – to join the South Asasif Conservation Project directed by Elena Pischikova for a short 2-weeks-study season of pottery. I’ve been studying the ceramics from the two fantastic, monumental Kushite tombs of Karakhamun and Karabasken, TT 223 and TT 391, in South Asasif since 2011. This season, my focus will be on new material from the tomb of Karabasken and I am very much looking forward to this. Besides the important material dating to the original use of the tomb, the 25th Dynasty, there is plenty of ceramics from later phases attesting to the re-use of the structure from the 26th Dynasty up to Coptic, Islamic and even modern times.

A large amount of the pottery from both TT 391 and TT 223 is datable to the 30th Dynasty and the Ptolemaic Period – and thus of much interest for my study of TT 414, the tomb of Ankh-Hor.

Nicely comparable pottery corpora from the re-use of Theban temple tombs: TT 414 to the left, TT 223 to the right.

The ceramics from South Asasif I am going to be working on in the next weeks provide perfect parallels for our material from the burial monument of Ankh-Hor in northern Asasif and illustrate the heyday of re-using monumental Theban Late Period tombs during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC.

Dissemination of the rich potential of the Ankh-Hor Project

Good news within the summer break: Our study of neglected finds from the tomb of Ankh-Hor in Asasif, TT414, in Egypt is highlighted in the latest issue of the The Project Repository Journal (July 2019, pp. 42-43).

Our aimed reconstruction of the complete use life of the tomb from the 6th century BC until Roman and Coptic times will provide new information about the people buried in TT 414 and also allows high lightening important new aspects of Egyptian funerary customs throughout the ages.

TT 414 has a huge potential to serve as a case study to analyse various attitudes of later generations towards the original owners of monumental Theban burial places – this can be best illustrated by the recycling of coffins. For the understanding of the complete, very complex use life of TT 414 a more in depth study is therefore much needed and will be carried out in the next years. At present, large amounts of coffins, fragments of coffins and cartonnage from TT 414, dating from the Late Period to Ptolemaic and Roman times, still remain to be cleaned, consolidated and fully documented. These tasks require time and financial support, but will definitly contribute to writing a new chapter of Theban funerary archaeology.

TT 414 as monumental jigsaw puzzle with huge potential

The rich potential of the thousands of finds from TT 414, the tomb of Ankh-Hor, for understanding the funerary culture of Late Period and Ptolemaic Thebes as well as family relations and more was recently the focus of an interview I gave to the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Screenshot

The interview was published yesterday in German – more media coverage of the project which makes me very proud. Besides the interesting re-use of coffins I also mentioned the fascination history of the use and re-use of the “Lichthof” in TT 414. A blog post about this aspect of the tomb of Ankh-Hor will follow shortly.

Media coverage for the Ankh-Hor Project

Very proud and honoured: our work in the Asasif on the finds from the TT 414 has made it into an Austrian newspaper – an article in “Die Presse” presented some information about the Ankh-Hor project (print version 06/04/2019, online since 09/04/2019), based on an interview I gave in Vienna two weeks ago.

On this occasion, I stressed the rich potential about the coffins from the tomb of Ankh-Hor – not only for establishing a typology for Ptolemaic coffins and for discussing coffin workshops at Thebes, but especially for discussing the diverse re-use of TT 414, burial chambers and coffins. The best example is of course the 26th Dynasty coffin Reg. No. 590 of Iret-her-rw, which was re-used by Wah-ib-re in Ptolemaic times.

There are still plenty of information to unveil from the tomb of Ankh-Hor.

Media coverage like this article and also the recent blog post at DerStandard.at are very nice rewards for our busy and successful 2019 season – and it also helps to keep the motivation high. Among others, for writing proposals and applications which will keep me busy in the next months. Money does matter – not only for death and burials as you can read in the “Die Presse” article but also for researching complex burials like the multiple ones in TT 414.

Ankh-Hor in Vienna

I am currently back in my hometown in Vienna, busy with several things, first of all the Ankh-Hor Project and administrative but also scientific tasks related to our latest field season.

I am delighted that I got the chance to write about our work for the blog of the Young Academy here in Vienna – I tried to summarise the rich potential of the Ankh-Hor project, giving some examples of the intriguing use life of the tomb and its diverse users. So much work still to do, so many details to reconstruct and contextualise!

The 2019 season in retrospect

Today I will be a bit selfish. Quite a lot actually, to be honest. I’ve just reached my Munich office through wind and sleet, getting ready for a day full of meetings and administrative matters.

No complains here, honestly – but I think it’s just about time to review the 2019 season at Asasif – my personal doping for motivation on this gray and rainy day here in Munich – and hopefully also of interest for all friends of the Ankh-Hor Project!

Although there is our photo gallery of the 2018 and 2019 seasons (and be sure to check these out), here come my personal favorite pics of this year in Asasif:

Group picture from the start of our season.

Construction work at the site.

Object photography…

Very photogenic pottery vessels!

More photography…

The hidden photographer!

Mona and Hassan…

Hassan and me…

Ashraf and Mahmoud…

My coffins and me…

Gettin coffin fragments ready for photography

Next coffin please…

Conservation work…

Iman doing a great job

Packing coffins for the transport

And the men behind the scenes: Yussuf and Ragab

With this great motivation and many thanks to all team members, today’s desk work should be doable :-)!