Summary of week 2 of the Ankh-Hor Project

Another week of our 2019 season just ended – and was altogether again very successful.

The main tasks this week were the cleaning and consolidation of Ptolemaic coffins from TT 414. Our group of conservators was busy with both black-yellow-red outer anthropoid Ptolemaic coffins like the one of Twt and nicely multi-coloured painted coffins like the one of Iret-Hor dating to the 26th Dynasty.

Re-organising the magazine is also well in progress; I am currently sorting the large number of coffins which are still in urgent need of consolidation according to priorities.

Photographing objects and in particular the consolidated coffins and coffin fragments also continued and required some sportive activity as well as creative solutions regarding the photo-set up by Cajetan.

Thanks to Mona and Hassan, a number of both Late Period and Ptolemaic pottery vessels from TT 414 was successfully drawn, nicely rounding up our concise study of all objects from all periods of use of the tomb of Ankh-Hor.

Last but definitely not least, many thanks go to Mohammed, Mahmoud and Ashraf – without our workmen the work which requires handling and carrying large boxes and heavy wooden pieces would not be possible.


I am, as always, very grateful to all team members and looking much forward to week 3 starting on Saturday, now wishing a nice weekend to everybody – here in Egypt and beyond!


Mr. Twt and his outer anthropoid coffin

As conservation work and documentation of coffins from TT 414 is well in progress, I am proud to introduce today one of the little known person buried in the tomb of Ankh-Hor.

We just finished documenting the fully consolidated outer anthropoid coffin of a male person with the name Twt. Unfortunately, we only know little about Mr. Twt and his coffin is very fragmented. No titles are preserved and his mother is unknown. Thankfully his father who was also buried in TT 414 is attested and allows connecting our person of interest with the offsprings of the wider family of Mwt-Min (see Budka, Mekis and Bruwier 2013). The genealogical data suggest a dating of the death and burial of Twt around 150 BCE, so in the mid-2nd century BCE.

Of Twt himself only his outer anthropoid coffin has survived, no other items of his burial equipment are known until today. His father, Djehwtj-jr-djs, was buried in a similar outer coffin in TT 414; for him, fragments of a colourfully painted inner coffin have also survived.

Both father and son used the well-known Ptolemaic coffin style of yellow and red decoration on black. Twt’s coffin, of which the left side, part of the feet and lower part have survived, shows some nice representations of gods and demons, mythological scenes and one particularly charming offering scene of the deceased in front of Osiris.

Detail of Twt’s coffin with the deceased before Osiris.

Although the chances could be higher, there is definitly hope that during the ongoing Ankh-Hor Project new data about little known Ptolemaic persons buried in TT 414 like Twt will be unearthed – I am personally convinced that some cartonage fragments will turn up within the large amounts of mid-to late Ptolemaic fragments which still need to be studied in detail. For now, documenting the only existing source for Twt in full detail is already an important step into the right direction.


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 & Levant 22/23, 2012/2013, 209–251.

Some aspects of the re-use of coffins in Ptolemaic Thebes

TT 414, the monumental tomb of Ankh-Hor, High Steward of the Divine Adoratrice Nitocris during the 26th Dynasty (6th century BCE), is one of the so-called temple tombs of the Late Period in Asasif with a temple-like superstructure and complex cultic rooms and halls.

Isometric plan TT 414

Within the current Ankh-Hor Project of LMU Munich we are focusing on the complete use-life of the tomb which lasted over centuries well into the Roman and Coptic periods. We also include the various ancient and more recent plundering phases of TT 414 which are well attested. One aspect is particularly noteworthy: TT 414 has the potential to serve as a case study to analyse various attitudes of later generations towards the original owners of Theban burial places. For example, several Late Period coffins had been found in the pillared hall of TT 414, thus not in their primary position within the burial chambers at the bottom of the various shafts, but within one of the cultic rooms or sanctuaries. In the entrance area to the pillared hall, a well preserved lower part of a coffin, Reg. No. 590, was discovered, seemingly out of place for a 26th Dynasty coffin.

Budka_Fig_7 neu

Location of Reg. No. 590 in Room 4 of TT 414 (after Budka 2010).

Already back in the 1970s, the excavators suspected that these coffins had just been re-used in the Ptolemaic period when people started to make use of the pillared hall as a burial place (in addition to the shafts). In 2009, I could confirm this by an exceptional in situ-find that came to light during the cleaning of the coffin Reg. No. 590 (Budka 2010): We discovered in the interior of this 26th Dynasty coffin for a man named Iret-her-rw, called Nes-ba-neb-djedet, an intact mummy label with a demotic docket (see Budka and Mekis 2017). This Ptolemaic mummy label identifies the mummy placed in this coffin as a man with the name Wah-ib-Re. Recently, I could trace together with my colleague Tamás Mekis a fragmentary cartonage in the Louvre (Louvre N 4603) which probably belongs to this person and must derive from TT 414 as well (Budka and Mekis 2017).

This allows tackling two important aspects:

1) The destroyed mummy placed in the coffin Reg. No. 590 illustrates the well-known fact that in the 19th century AD, Egyptian mummies were systematically damaged during the search for gilded parts, cartonages, amulets and other finds. Objects like the cartonage Louvre N 4603 came via antiquity dealers to large European museums. Like for Wah-ib-Re, it is therefore possible to find various objects from people buried in TT 414 in these museums (see, e.g. Budka, Mekis and Bruwier 2013).

2) The Ptolemaic mummy label found in the 26th Dynasty coffin in TT 414 attests to the re-use of wooden coffins from the original phase of use of monumental temple tombs like TT 414 some 300 years later. Whether this re-use had simply practical reasons and a financial motivation, or whether this recycling was also associated with a more complex set of meanings must remain open for now, providing a number of possible lines of further research.


Final cleaning of Reg. No. 590 is well in progress.

I am personally very delighted that this not only beautifully painted, but also intriguing coffin, Reg. No. 590, which already has had such a multifaceted biography, now entered another aspect of its life history: it is getting a last cleaning and consolidation in order to be transported to the main magazine here on the West Bank as final resting place.



Budka, Julia 2010.  Varianz im Regelwerk. Bestattungsabläufe im Monumentalgrab von Anch-Hor, Obersthofmeister der Gottesgemahlin Nitokris (TT 414), Ägypten & Levante 20, 49–66.

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, Ägypten & Levante 22/23, 2012/2013, 209–251.

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

Start of week 2 in Asasif

The second week of the 2019 season of the Ankh-Hor project started off very successful – first of all, our last recruitment arrived! Team member Hassan Ramadan finally came from Berlin last night, joined us this morning and immediately started with illustrating objects, today some nice Chiotic amphorae.

The other tasks also continued as planned – cleaning and consolidation of coffins from TT 414 as well as their photographic documentation. The current focus of conservation work is on a very interesting lower part of a wooden anthropoid coffin from the 26th Dynasty which was re-used in Ptolemaic times – I will explain more about this special piece here shortly.

Summary of week 1 of the Ankh-Hor project

Time flies by as usual here in Luxor… Unbelievable that we opened our magazine and started the season already one week ago! Our first full week of work has now passed, we were very busy and also quite successful. We accomplished already a number of important tasks in week 1 of our 2019 season.

The main task this week was to set up the conservation programme – which worked out perfectly, thanks to the experience of Daniel Oberndorfer from last year and the enthusiastic conservators and students of conservation from the University of Applied Art in Vienna. The working places in our new luxury tent are well suitable, equipped with electricity and allow working on large boards of coffins.

The current focus of conservation is on Ptolemaic coffins – although I am already perfectly familiar with the rich variety of coffin styles from TT 414, this variability still amazes me. Our group of conservators was especially busy with two very common coffin styles, the black-yellow and black-yellow-red outer anthropoid coffins. They found some very nice new matches among the fragmented pieces, some of which could even be glued back together.

Examples of the more colourful Ptolemaic inner coffins were consolidated this week by our Egyptian colleague Iman Ibrahim Zaghlol.

I myself am still busy with re-organising the magazine, checking for joining pieces and sorting the objects according to priorities. Besides new additions to Roman coffins, one of the highlights is a new match to the foot part of a Ptolemaic coffin. It is the beautifully painted coffin of a female singer of Amun-Re with the name Iretru. More fragments of her coffin were already consolidated in 2008 and the new piece allows reconstructing the coffin further, especially once all the fragments will be cleaned.

Working picture of new joint to coffin Reg. 658

Another major task this season, like in 2018, is documenting the objects from TT 414 with our fullframe camera. Cajetan was busy this week photographing various groups of objects – mostly coffin fragments, but also shabtis, stelae fragments and wooden statues. The quality of these pictures is just amazing and perfectly suitable for publication! Mona helped with photography and also made some nice drawings of 26th Dynasty pottery from TT 414.









All in all, I am very satisfied with the results of this first week and grateful to all team members including our Egyptian workmen – now we’re all off to a well-deserved weekend with some sightseeing in beautiful Luxor, work will continue on Saturday, much looking forward to this!

Researching the second heyday of burials in Asasif

The reuse of monumental Theban temple tombs of the 25th and 26th Dynasties located in the Asasif flourished especially during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE – among others this can be well illustrated by the example of TT 414. The Ankh-Hor Project is currently focusing on this particular time of use which still poses a number of open questions, highly relevant for a better understanding of the history of the Theban necropolis.

Conservation work and documentation of coffins and other finds from TT 414 is well underway and we are making much progress. In the last days, the very nice coffin assemblage of the lady Asetemakhbjt was successfully consolidated – both her inner and fragments of her outer coffin are excellent examples illustrating the second phase of burial activity in TT 414 during the 4th-3rd centuries BCE (30th Dynasty to Early Ptolemaic) which is linked to a group of Amun priests of the temple of Karnak who were also involved in cults for the god Osiris. This holds true for the father and one of the brothers of our lady Asetemakhbjt who were also buried in TT 414.

Many thanks go here especially to the Austrian Archaeological Institute’s conservator Daniel Oberndorfer who will unfortunately already leave us tomorrow – but his short stay for the Ankh-Hor Project was very productive and of course conservation work will continue in the next weeks by the team of newcomers from the University of Applied Arts Vienna, supported by Iman Ibrahim Zaghlol from the local inspectorate.

Busy with documentation and conservation of finds from TT 414

Meanwhile, we finished our first full working day of the Ankh-Hor Project in 2019. All worked out perfectly, working spaces, tents and tables were set up and documentation and conservation commenced today.

The nice and very spacious tent allows our large team of conservators a comfortable shady working space protected from the wind. Cleaning and consolidating coffins from TT 414 started with important pieces dating to the 30th Dynasty, including one quite complete inner coffin which belonged to a lady with the name Asetemakhbjt.

Mona and Cajetan documented various objects today, including pottery and funerary cones as well as coffin fragments.

I myself started re-organising the magazine further, still hunting for joining pieces in our large jigsaw puzzle – and really found some already today: more pieces joining one of our Roman coffins, hurray.

All in all, the next weeks here in Asasif will be exciting and of course busy – the 2019 season of the Ankh-Hor Project really started off very promising!

Official start of the 2019 season

After some very nice days in Cairo, we managed to finish all the paperwork and officially started our 2019 season in Asasif today! The team is not yet complete, but Mona and Hassan will join us soon.

Our magazine in the Asasif, an original Middle Kingdom Saff tomb, was opened today and we had a quick first check. Thankfully everything is exactly as we left it in 2018, just dusted.

All is now set and documentation and conservation work of funerary objects and primarily wooden coffins will start on Saturday – very grateful to the great support of everybody involved, especially the authorities in Cairo and here in Luxor, especially the local inspectorate.

Can’t wait to get fully occupied with our complex jigsaw puzzle, tracing the numerous people buried in the tomb of Ankh-Hor, TT 414, over several centuries!

All set for the 2019 season

Teaching term in Munich just ended, MUAFS project just successfully post-processed – and now off to Cairo! All is set for the 2019 season of the Ankh-Hor project which will start in the upcoming week.

Conservation work will be the main focus of the 2019 season, again in cooperation with the Austrian Archaeological Institute (Daniel Oberndorfer) and also with a group of newcomers from the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

My team will of course also comprise archaeologists/Egyptologists – I am particularly happy that Cajetan Geiger and Mona Dietrich (both LMU) will be joining me again and this season we will be also strengthened by Hassan Ramadan, who just recently passed his PhD defensio at Humboldt University in Berlin.

The reunion with Hassan is something very special for me – we first met in 2007 in the Asasif when Hassan was appointed as my inspector. He helped us a lot this season and it was the start of a friendship. Since then, we have both got our first grey hairs, but also made big steps in our individual careers – and we stayed friends and became close colleagues exchanging ideas about the fascinating and complex use-life of the Theban necropolis – of which so many questions still need to be answered!

Hassan and me back in 2007 – much younger, but already intrigued by Theban funerary archaeology.

Very much looking forward to the 2019 season of the Ankh-Hor project and of course we’ll keep you posted about our findings!