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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

Too many Pa-di-Amun-neb-nesut-tawys…

Yesterday and today, the focus of our current big jigsaw puzzle from TT 414 was not only on coffins, but also on shabtis. A small amount of shabtis from Ankh-Hor himself were found by Bietak and his team and is already published (Bietak and Reiser Haslauer 1982, pl. 97). Elfriede Reiser-Haslauer managed to locate many more Ankh-Hor shabtis throughout various collections and museums (Bietak and Reiser Haslauer 1982, pls. 98-116), attesting to the early phase of collecting objects from the tomb in the 19th century prior to its scientific excavation.

Equally well-known are the shabtis from the undisturbed burial of Wah-ib-Ra, datable to the 30th Dynasty and also already published (Bietak and Reiser Haslauer 1982, pl. 128).

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But still unpublished until today is a very large number – several dozens – of faience shabtis with the name of Pa-di-Amun-neb-nesut-tawy. There are various sizes and different types of these blue- or green-glazed shabtis, but most are fragmented and only give part of the name. These shabtis were primarily found in the debris within the burial chamber of Ankh-Hor – which was reused by the Amun priest Pa-di-Amun-neb-nesut-tawy I in the 30th Dynasty. Followed by several generations of his family, and a good number of individuals with the same name (and titles)!

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Eleven Pa-di-Amun-neb-nesut-tawys were listed by Elfriede Reiser-Haslauer in her genealogical register of people buried in TT 414. Two types of shabtis fortunately have a specific addition to the common title “divine father and prophet of Amun” – they mention the temple of Khonsw and can therefore be attributed to Pa-di-Amun-neb-nesut-tawy II.  For the other shabtis, though, it is almost impossible to reconstruct to which specific individual they once belonged. But work is still in progress: although there are far too many same-named persons who were all buried in TT 414, there is some hope that we will also attribute some of these numerous Ptolemaic faience shabtis in the near future by means of a typology and stylistic and palaeographic attributes.

Reference

Bietak and Reiser Haslauer 1982 = M. Bietak and E. Reiser-Haslauer, Das Grab des ‘Anch-Hor, Obersthofmeister der Gottesgemahlin Nitokris II, UZK 5, Vienna 1982.