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.

Reference

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.

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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!

End of 2018 season: summary and outlook

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Our first, quite short season just ended yesterday – the magazine in the Asasif is sealed and closed again, some of the team members are already back in Vienna and Munich, three of us arrived this afternoon in Cairo and will leave in the next days.

Altogether, the first season was very successful and all goals were achieved. The focus was on documenting coffins and other objects from the long use-life of TT 414. More than 80 drawings were produced by Patrizia and Mona, comprising small finds (mostly Ptolemaic faience shabtis with texts bearing the names of their owners), wooden objects including a beautiful Ptolemaic Ptah-Sokar-Osiris statue and pottery (complete pottery vessels and fragments, mostly Ptolemaic from the re-use of TT414, but also some Saite vessels from the original phase of use).

In addition to these drawing, 360 objects were photographed in very high resolution with a full-frame camera by Cajetan. These objects were primarily coffin fragments, fragments of wooden shrines and boxes and again shabtis. With these new photos suitable for publication, most of the objects are now fully documented.

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The conservation work was successfully started thanks to cooperation with the Austrian Archaeological Institute.  Daniel Oberndorfer joined the project in the field and managed to get a first general overview of the material, its needs and specifications to develop a program for cleaning and consolidation. Conservation work focused during the 2018 season on wooden objects, especially on coffins and fragments of shrines and wooden statuettes (Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figures). It mainly comprised of consolidation and mechanical cleaning.

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A total of 23 wooden and painted objects were successfully cleaned, consolidated and photographed. Drawings of some selected pieces are planned for the next season. With the data and experience from the 2018, a larger-scale conservation programme can be designed for the next years, considering the individual properties of the material from TT 414. Conservation work will be the main focus of the upcoming seasons.

Related to this, I managed to reorganize the magazine according to priorities. The majority of the material still to be studied is the large amount of coffins – more than 180 coffins within the magazine are currently entered in our database, several dozen are still missing.

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Besides sorting the material regarding their state of preservation and thus the need of consolidation as well as of scientific importance (datable pieces, pieces of well-known persons buried in TT 414 etc.), the focus of this working tasks of the 2018 season was to find matches between the fragments preliminary registered under “K-numbers”. This proved very time consuming, but also quite successful – 16 new matches to registered coffins from the “K-numbers” were achieved. Furthermore, four newly identified registered coffin fragments can be noted and five additional parts to fragmented coffins were documented.

The importance of this search for joints, which will continue in the next season, can be illustrated by the examples of a new fragment of coffin of the daughter of Ankh-Hor and a newly identified black-and-yellow style Ptolemaic coffin as the outer coffin of a singer with the name Ta-net-Geb. More new names were noted on various fragments and still have to be added to our genealogical data and processed in detail.

The rich prospective of the detailed work on the complete set of finds from TT 414 became very clear during the 2018 season. But, in order to achieve major results and to support preliminary ideas with further evidence, work must continue in the near future and is planned for a next season in spring 2019. Large amounts of coffins, fragments of coffins and cartonage from the Late Period to Ptolemaic and Roman times still remain to be cleaned, consolidated and restored – and will for sure bring to light more new information about the use of the tomb of Ankh-Hor throughout the ages.

Group picture 2018

My deep thanks go to all team members for their enthusiasm for the project and making 2018 a great season! The photo gallery gives some impressions of all the various tasks achieved and also of how much fun we had working on this really interesting set of diverse objects. Of course, work would not have been possible without the support of the Egyptian authorities and especially of the local inspectorate on the West Bank; I am very grateful to a number of people, first of all to our inspector Zeinab Mohammed Elsayed for enabling us to work according to the working programme.

Looking already much forward to come back to Asasif next year! Updates about our processing of the data collected in 2018 will of course follow.

More shabtis & more coffin matches

Week 3 started not at all perfect – yesterday was a very sandy & windy day, work outside was almost impossible, so we had to concentrate on tasks within the magazine, especially the cleaning and consolidation of coffins and other wooden objects.

Today was much better regarding the weather and all were back at their tasks: drawing, photographing and studying objects from TT 414. There are still more faience shabtis which need drawings – and strangely they are now met with just a little less enthusiasm than last week ;).

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Matching coffin fragments was again very successful – the jigsaw puzzle is getting more and more advanced. My personal highlight of today was the identification of a black-and-yellow style Ptolemaic coffin as the outer coffin of a singer with the name Ta-net-Geb. Until today, she was only known from the inner coffin of her son from TT 414 – now we can confirm that she was also buried in the tomb of Ankh-Hor, presumably with her husband Hor-Khonsu!

K07_219 Ta-nt-Geb

This enlarges not only our prosopographical data of people buried in TT 414, but is also relevant for questions of typologies and dating of Ptolemaic coffins. The next goal is now trying to find more matches to Ta-net-Geb’s coffin – the piece identified today is just a very small fragment from the lid of a once substantial anthropoid coffin. So much more to do with this simply amazing material from the tomb of Ankh-Hor!

Short summary of week 2

Week 2 of work on the finds from TT 414, the tomb of Ankh-Hor in Asasif, was just completed – it has been a very successful week with quite a number of tasks accomplished.

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Drawing of pottery and small finds continued – besides faience vessels, shabtis and amulets from bead nets, Patrizia also made beautiful drawings of some peculiar wooden fragments (of which we are still discussing the precise function). Right now, she is busy with the numerous faience shabtis from the family of Pa-di-Amun-neb-nesut-tawy.

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Mona worked primarily on Ptolemaic pottery from the “Lichthof” of Ankh-Hor – these pieces nicely illustrate the function of this part of TT 414 as offering place. Besides small offering cups and plates, fragments of so-called Hadra ware are notable.

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Photographing various groups of objects was continued by Cajetan – with today, we started focusing on larger coffin fragments. Besides, all pieces already consolidated by Daniel are also documented with photos of our full frame camera. Cleaning and consolidation is progressing were well, focusing both on 26th Dynasty objects like the stela of Her-Aset and qrsw-coffins and on Ptolemaic objects like Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figures and of course various coffin fragments.

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Furthermore, I am very happy that Philippe Martinez studied and photographed during this week the re-used New Kingdom blocks from the foundations of the Ramesses IV temple excavated by Manfred Bietak. Philippe kindly also documented small relief fragments from TT 414 stored in the magazine.

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Re-organising the magazine is also making much progress – I’ve just ordered more wooden boxes for a new storage system according to priorities which will be developed further next week.

We’re now off to a well-deserved weekend, many thanks to all team members and looking much forward to Saturday!

Conservation work started on objects from TT 414

Thanks to the support of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, the institute’s conservator Daniel Oberndorfer joined us and started his work on the wooden objects from TT 414 today.

Large amounts of coffin fragments and other wooden objects are in urgent need of cleaning and also consolidation – for now, I have made a list of priorities for Daniel according to both significance of the object and its state of preservation. In focus are some 26th Dynasty coffin remains which have not yet been studied in detail, but foremost several Ptolemaic fragments because of their significance for reconstructing genealogies and family trees.

Some pieces are also highly significant of the history of exploration of TT 414: Daniel started working on the small fragment of the Ptolemaic stela of Heraset (Reg. 508). Bietak and Reiser-Haslauer noted already that it belongs to the larger part of stela BM EA 8457 which came via Henry Salt to London (Bietak/Reiser-Haslauer 1982, pl. 155; Budka 2010, 56).

Stele heraset

Like for so many other objects from TT 414, this example illustrates how much information can be gained from a joint puzzle of data deriving from both, material excavated by the Austrian Mission in TT 414 and objects currently kept in European museums originating from non-scientific work in the tomb during the 19th century (see Budka/Mekis 2017). For the identification of further objects in museums and collections as coming originally from TT 414, conservation work of the still unpublished material stored here in the Asasif is of prime importance in order to document all relevant pieces in full detail for future comparison.

References

Bietak/Reiser-Haslauer 1982 = M. Bietak/E. Reiser-Haslauer, Das Grab des Anch-Hor, vol. II, Vienna 1982.

Budka 2010 = J. Budka, Varianz im Regelwerk. Bestattungsabläufe im Monumentalgrab von Anch-Hor, Obersthofmeister der Gottesgemahlin Nitokris (TT 414), Egypt & the Levant 20, 2010, 49-66.

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