A complex jigsaw puzzle

We’re making very good progress with documenting the objects from TT 414. After the general cleaning at the beginning, we are now focusing on wooden objects and here in particular on coffin fragments. More than 200 coffins/coffin fragments were registered during work in TT 414. Some of them are in very good state of preservation, but the majority urgently needs consolidation.

Seminal work on the coffins from TT 414 was conducted in the 1970s by Elfriede Reiser-Haslauer who registered all the coffins and documented the texts and decorative programmes (see Reiser-Haslauer 1982). However, it goes without saying how much effort this meant during excavation, with new pieces coming in and various tasks at one time. The Austrian team did a great job back then, but at that moment detailed studies and especially the cleaning and consolidation of the coffins were not possible.

This is where our project steps in – aiming for a reconstruction of the phases of use of TT 414 and its burials, we now focus on details and a revised prosopographical study (cf. Budka/Mekis/Bruwier 2013; Budka/Mekis 2017). At this stage, quite a number of registered coffins are still scattered within the magazine, without indication of find location or find number – the big challenge is therefore reconstructing all joining pieces for one object and identifiying small fragments. Some joints were also not noted back in the 1970s, simply because of the large amounts of finds.

Identification

Today, we can built upon the original documentation and photos by the Austrian mission – also small fragments can be identified, although it is quite a time-consuming task requiring sometimes luck and of course always patience. With two new joints of important pieces today, I am really satisfied!

Our work resembles a big and quite complex jigsaw puzzle – but all efforts are definitely worth it, not only because of the high quality of the pieces and their significance for contextualising funerary customs in Late Period and Ptolemaic Thebes, but also because previous work in the magazine has shown that unexpected finds might show up during consolidation work – Book of the Dead papyri and mummy labels were found in the study seasons 2007-2009 (see Budka 2010). The material from TT 414 definitely still holds much potential for surprises!

References

Budka, Julia and Tamás Mekis 2017. The Family of Wah-ib-Re I (TT 414) from Thebes, Egypt & the Levant 27, 219‒240.

Budka, Julia, Tamás Mekis and Marie-Cécile Bruwier 2013. Re-use of Saite temple tombs in the Asasif during the early Ptolemaic time – the tomb group of Mw.t-Mnw from TT 414, Egypt & the Levant 22/23, 2012/2013, 209–251.

Budka, Julia 2010. Ankh-Hor Revisited: Study, Documentation and Publication of Forgotten Finds from the Asasif/Thebes, in: Fifth Central European Conference of Egyptologists. Egypt 2009: Perspectives of Research, Pułtusk 2009, ed. by J. Popielska and J. Iwaszczuk, Acta Archaeologica Pułtuskiensia, Pułtusk, 23–31.

Reiser-Haslauer, Elfriede 1982. IX. Genealogisches Register, in: Manfred Bietak und Elfriede Reiser-Haslauer, Das Grab des ‘Anch-Hor, Obersthofmeister der Gottesgemahlin Nitokris II, UZK 5, Vienna, 267–284.

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6 thoughts on “A complex jigsaw puzzle

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