Thebes in the First Millennium BC. Day 1

South Asasif Conservation Project Logo. Copy Rights to SACP

The conference is organised by the South Asasif Conservation Project at the Mummification Museum, Luxor. From 1-4 October 2012.
On Monday the 1st of October , the Conference started at 9:17am by Dr. Elena welcoming the attendance who amongst was Dr. Ezzat Saad, the governor of Luxor, and thanked the Minister of Antiquities before she gave a short introduction before inviting Dr. Ahmed El Bialy for his speech.

 At 9:25am Dr. Ahmed El Bialy, the head of the Egyptian antiquities and Greco-Roman department in the MSA, started talking about what could be the meaning of Asasif as people in Qurna believe and the different explanations of the name and he gave an idea of the history of the site and the excavations that took place at different times. Dr. Ahmed invited the governor of Luxor to talk on the stage.
Dr. Ezzat took the stage at 9:46am for 11 minutes when he thanked Dr. Elena,Dr. Ahmed El Bialy and welcomed all the attendants to Luxor.

The governor said “We feel indebt to all the mission and countries working here in Luxor and they are a part of the social fabric of the city, I have many friends amongst them – almost in every excavation mission. We owe them a lot and we appreciate their work. Also I want to say that Luxor is safe, it is a little bit different from Cairo.”   Then a power cut has took place and left the governor for few seconds in the dark and front of not working microphone. Then he added “We talk less about politics here in Luxor and even when we have protests sometimes it is only a few people and totally peaceful.”
Dr. Salima Ikram who was running the morning session introduced the first speaker

The South Asasif Conservation Project
Elena Pischikova (Director of the South Asasif Conservation Project,
AmericanUniversity in Cairo)
Started on 9:57am (Duration 52 Minutes)

2012 marks the seventh year of the foundation of the South Asasif Conservation Project. In 2006 our American-Egyptian team started work in the severely destroyed tombs of Karabasken (TT 391) and Karakhamun (TT 223) of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty and Irtieru (TT 390) of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. This talk has briefly presented the history of the South Asasif necropolis and gave a survey of the conservation and reconstruction work accomplished during this period.  Moreover, it introduced the decorative and textual program of the tomb of Karakhamun as well as the stylistic and iconographic features of its relief decoration.  It also concluded by a discussion of the place the tombs of Karabasken and Karakhamun occupy in the development of Kushite private tomb building and decoration.
 
Kushite pottery from the Tomb of Karakhamun: Towards a reconstruction of the use of pottery in Twenty-fifth Dynasty temple tombs.
Julia Budka (Humboldt University Berlin & South Asasif Conservation Project)
Started on 10:54am (Duration 51 Minutes)

Two seasons of recording the pottery from TT 223 have been carried out in 2011 and 2012. The main aim was to establish the dating of the ceramics and thus to gain insights into the use-life of the tomb. Ceramics from the first phase of use during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty are present, as well as large numbers of vessels from the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Dynasties, and also material from Ptolemaic, Roman and Coptic times.
The ceramics from the burial chamber (Chamber X) were of prime interest and have been studied in detail. Despite the mixed appearance of the material from Chamber X, a small quantity of Twenty-fifth Dynasty vessels was identified – these very likely belong to the original burial equipment of Karakh­amun. Most interesting within this small pottery corpus are specific beakers that are not found among typical Egyptian tomb groups of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Because of parallels from Kush proper, as well as from the burial of Amenirdis at Medinet Habu, it is reasonable to assume that these vessels from TT 223 are Kushite imports, attesting to the indigenous tradition of Karakhamun within his Egyptian temple tomb. Also to contextualise this material, the lecture discussed the use of pottery in Kushite tombs both in Egypt and Kush in modern Sudan.
 
The Book of the Dead from the Second Pillared Hall of the Tomb of Karakhamun.
Kenneth Griffin (Swansea University & South Asasif Conservation Project)
Started on 11:46am (Duration 21 Minutes)

The tomb of Karakhamun (TT 223) is perhaps the earliest of the large Late Period monumental Theban tombs to have been extensively decorated with the Book of the Dead. To date, 57 chapters, including a number of duplicates, have been identified, more than in any other Theban tomb. The sheer volume of chapters indicates that systematic research, investigation and revisions of this religious body of text must have taken place earlier in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty than previously acknowledged.
This talk focused on the chapters from the western face of the Second Pillared Hall, including Chapter 15h, 50, 91, and 104, presenting a reconstruction of their texts and vignettes, in addition to a textual comparison to those in the neighboring Theban tombs of the Late Period. The study of the texts from the tomb of Karakhamun represents a welcomed addition to our knowledge and understanding of the Book of the Dead, providing a valuable resource for fellow scholars who continue to work on this genre of texts from the monumental Theban tombs of the Late Period.  
 
The Hall of the Two Maats. BD 125 in Karakhamun’s funerary chamber.
Miguel Angel Molinero-Polo (University of La Laguna & South Asasif Conservation Project)
Started on 12:08pm (Duration 21 Minutes)

The walls of Chamber X, the main burial chamber of the tomb of Karakhamun, are covered with the vignette of spell 125 of the Book of going forth by day. Next to the door in the West wall, the deceased is represented entering the hall and facing the forty-two judges; who occupy the rest of the West, South, North and parts of the East walls. The front wall is covered by the severely damaged scene of the weighing of the heart. All the traditional elements can still be recognized: there are enough remains of figures and texts to identify Osiris, Thoth, Ammit and the deceased, as well as sufficient space to assume the presence of the scale and another figure.
The preserved texts – mainly the declaration of innocence before the gods of the court were presented. They will be compared with earlier and later documents to place them in the evolution of BD, as well as with similar scenes in other Late Period Theban tombs. Finally, the symbolic meaning of this representation will be analysed in its location, since the burial chamber itself becomes, through the image, the Hall of the Two Maats, while the astronomical representation covering the ceiling confirms the positive statement of the judgment, ensuring the deceased’s eternal rebirth.
 
Identifying Signs of Workshop Production in Theban Funerary Assemblages in the Later Third Intermediate Period.
John Taylor (British Museum & South Asasif Conservation Project)
Started on 12:30pm (Duration 47 Minutes)

The establishing of reliable typologies for the abundant funerary objects of the Twenty-second to Twenty-fifth Dynasties is compromised by the high degree of contemporaneous variation in their iconography and inscriptions. For this reason, among others, assigning dates to them on a stylistic basis is difficult. One way forward in this situation is to focus on details which were not affected by iconographic programmes: specifically, the identification of similar graphic techniques and palaeographical features on coffins, stelae, shabti boxes and other objects, which allow otherwise undateable items to be linked together. This approach throws light on the workshop practices of the craftsmen and scribes, as well as providing a means of refining the dates at which certain individuals were buried. For members of the leading Theban families this evidence provides a control on the approximate dates obtained by the unreliable method of generation counting. The study also demonstrates the contemporaneity of otherwise undated individuals, and hence constitutes a step towards a more accurate reconstruction of the officialdom of Thebes.
Some Remarks on the Architecture of TT 223.
Dieter Eigner (Russian Academy of Sciences & South Asasif Conservation Project)
Started on 2:13pm (Duration 24 Minutes)

It covered the examination of the areas of “South Asasif” and “Asasif”, looking at some probable reasons for the location of TT 223 in South Asasif. The Late Period tombs in South Asasif were first explored in recent times, in 1976 and 1977, and despite there being scant visible remains, a reconstruction of the plan of the tomb was possible. The plan of TT 223 is “Kushite” in type and only three more tombs in the Theban Necropolis are of the same layout, i.e. a sequence of two pillared halls. The burial compartment is of a reduced design: staircase, antechamber, shaft and burial chamber with a flat astronomical ceiling, and there is some evidence that the staircase was filled after burial. The Second Pillared Hall has a unique feature of a cavetto cornice above the architrave, and pillars are of a smaller size than those in the first hall are. The Sanctuary is represented by a niche holding a statue of Osiris. One side-room off the second hall belongs to the original plan and probably held the burial of a relative of Karakhamun. The First Pillared Hall is of usual design, and in the south-western corner there is an intrusive burial of very late period. The walls of the courtyard are unique in design as between the pilasters there are images of pr-nw chapels. The pilasters represent the usual type found in a courtyard, which are flanked by pillared galleries.
Brief remarks on the Faunal material from the South Asasif Conservation Project
Salima Ikram
Started on 2:28pm (Duration 19 Minutes)

Talk about the large number of animals’ bones that were found in the TT223 which are over 1300 cows bones. Some of the bones are burnt to different degrees.
New tombs of North Asasif
Fathy Yassen Abd El Karim (Head of West Bank antiquities)
Started on 2:58pm (Duration 18 Minutes)

Conservation at the South Asasif Necropolis
Abd El Razik Mohamed
Started on 3:17pm (Duration 18 Minutes)

The talk was on the different conservation and reconstruction methods that took place in the tombs of South Asasif
The funerary caches (tombs) of the Third Intermediate Period in Thebes.
Erhart Graefe (University of Münster)
Started on 4:17pm (Duration 34 Minutes)

The so-called first and second Caches, discovered in 1881, and 1891respectively, as well as other funerary caches were discussed in their historical contexts including a plea for the sequence Herihor – Pianchi as high priests of Amun.
 
Royal Tombs at Thebes in the First Millennium BC.
David Aston (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna)
Started on 4:52pm (Duration 25 Minutes)

A look at the tombs, and the burial assemblages, of the kings and members of their immediate families who are known to have been buried at Thebes, during the first half of the first Millennium BC.  Whilst the Twenty-first Dynasty High Priests of Amun, who also wrote their names in cartouches were considered, the main focus was on those members of the “Heracleopolitan/Theban Twenty-third Dynasty” (Dynasty Twenty-two A).
 
Tombs of the Third Intermediate Period Royal Members in the Deir el-Bahari Necropolis.
Dr. Zbigniew Szafranski (Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, Cairo Branch)
Started on 5:16pm (Duration 36 Minutes)

At Deir el-Bahari, in the upper most terraces of the temples of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III,  rock cut tombs became a regular occurrence during the Third Intermediate Period as during the Eighth and Seventh centuries BC, burials of the elite were cut through the floors of the temples. 
The existing ruins of the sanctuaries and chambers of the Temple of Hatshepsut became a superstructure for a number of shaft tombs leading into one burial chamber. The elaborately decorated Chapel of Hatshepsut and the Main Sanctuary of Amun became the vaulted Third Intermediate Period tomb chapel itself. The remains of the additional chapels within the temple also came into reuse as Third Intermediate Period tomb chapels. The vaulted type tomb, “Thebes II”, seems to have once been relatively common on the Theban west bank and continued to be constructed up until the end of the Third Intermediate Period. In Deir el-Bahari, there are also a number of shaft tombs located inside flat roofed compartments, in both the Northern and Southern Chambers of Amun-Re. The existing remains of the chambers formed the superstructure for these shaft tombs. This “flat” type of tomb chapel continued to be constructed up until the early Saite Period. In the Third Intermediate Period, the decoration of the still standing walls of Hatshepsut’s sanctuaries, courtyards and chambers contributed to the ideological meaning of the tombs superstructure. 

That was the end of day 1 of the conference lectures at the Mummification Museum but not the end of the conference events as there was a press conference to follow aimed at the local newspapers.
The Press conference was held at the Hilton hotel and more on it and what happened in it will be published after the conference with our notes and observations from the conference.

To support the South Asasif Conservation Project, please visit The Sponsorship Page here

Photographs were taken by Claudia Ali. Many thanks for your work Claudia

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