Spanish – Egyptian Mission at Dra Abu el-Naga Tombs of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11 – 12)
6 th Season Report: January 15 th – February 25 th
The tombs of Djehuty and Hery (TT 11-12) are located in the central area of Dra Abu-el Naga. They were hewn at the foothill, and they are interconnected inside through a third tomb (399). The three tombs date to the early XVIIIth Dynasty. The tombs of Djehuty and Hery are decorated in relief. Djehuty was a high official under Hatshepsut. As “overseer of works”, he was responsible for directing the craftsmen involved in the decoration of shrines and temples all over Thebes, including two obelisks in Karnak. As “overseer of the Treasure” he registered, among other things, the marvels that were brought from Punt in year 9 of Hatshepsut.
Hery lived about 50 years earlier. His main title was “overseer of the granaries of the king’s mother and royal wife Ahhotep”. Through his mother, called Ahmose, he might have been related to the royal family. He probably lived under King Ahmose, and died under Amenhotep I.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK INSIDE THE TOMBS
The main goal for the present season was the clearing of the debris that filled the inner chamber of the tomb of Djehuty (TT 11), measuring 4.40 x 5.40 m. and its height 2.24 m. The debris fell down through two big holes in the ceiling that communicated with two tombs hewn just above that of Djehuty, overlapping with its inner chamber. The problem of how to stop the debris from falling through the holes was solved in previous campaigns, and this season we could finally undertake the clearing of the chamber in a safe way.
The reliefs that decorate the walls of the inner chamber are in a relatively good state of preservation, despite of the floods that the entire tomb suffered, as well as the lighting of several intense fires. In the mid XIXth century some details of the relief scenes were cut out from the wall. The debris inside the inner chamber included modern objects, such as corn cobs and a couple of late XIXth century Egyptian coins.
The scenes represented on the walls describe the funerary rituals that supposedly were conducted in honor of Djehuty. The closest parallels for these are to be found in the contemporary tomb of Montuherkhepeshef (TT 20), only a few meters away from that of Djehuty. The scenes preserved in Djehuty’s tomb can now complete the lacunae of its neighbor.
The right/eastern half of the inner chamber is entirely occupied by a funerary shaft (2.09 x 1.06 m.). The wide frame of the shaft’s mouth raises half a meter from the ground. This is quite an uncommon design for a private tomb of this period. The shaft will be excavated the coming season. The inner chamber has a niche with three seated statues inside. Djehuty is escorted by his mother, called Dediu, and his father, whose name has been intentionally erased. Djehuty suffered damnatio memoriae, as well as his father and the relatives taking part in the funerary banquet scenes. However, his mother’s name was left undamaged in several spots of the tomb.
Inside the tomb of Djehuty we also cleared this year an annex room hewn in later times, connecting the transverse hall with the western corner of the façade. The room was used to burn human bones in an uncertain date, and these were then covered with a thick layer of lime. Material from the Third Intermediate Period was found, in a fragmentary state, scattered through the room. The annex connects with another tomb to the west of TT 11, but the latter was not further investigated and the opening was closed to prevent thieves from coming in.
The entrance to the tomb of Hery (TT 12) was walled by the Antiquities Service around 1910. Until now, the only access to the tomb was through that of Djehuty and along the transverse hall of 399. This year we made for it a strong iron door, so that it would have from now on an independent doorway and natural light coming in.
Planning the setting up of an iron door for tomb 399, we cleared inside the area right next to its entrance, what is actually the transverse hall of the tomb. There, several relief fragments from the tomb of Hery were recovered. We will finally place the iron door next season.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK OUTSIDE THE TOMBS
The archaeological work outside the tombs has focused on several areas. Firstly, we excavated above the façade of the tombs, aiming to find traces of the tombs’ superstructures. During our second season, back in 2003, we thought we had discovered the base of a pyramid above the tomb of Hery. The structure was built with mud-bricks and masonry, and its outer face was finished with mud mortar and coated with a whitewash. The wall had an inclination of 60º, similar to the Deir el-Medina private pyramids. However, when we excavated this season above tomb 399, we discovered the courtyard of a tomb hewn half a meter higher up the hill. The consequence of this find was that what we thought it was the western sidewall of a pyramid above the tomb of Hery was actually the eastern sidewall of the courtyard of a tomb above 399. The court’s western sidewall was also built with masonry, finished with mud mortar, and the side facing in had a small angle too. Being located on the “second floor” of the hill, one could only access the court of this tomb by one of its sides, and we actually found before the western sidewall the steps going down into the court. The court measures almost seven meters wide, and it has a small shaft in the middle.
The court of the “second floor” tomb was eventually filled with rubble, and later on a “third floor” courtyard was built on top of it. The sidewalls were this time built entirely with mud-bricks, although the western wall leaned on top of the “second floor” western mortar wall. While the first and second floor courtyards did coexist, the third one covered completely the one immediately underneath it.
When the excavation continued towards the west, at the area behind Djehuty’s tomb, we discovered the rear side of the wall that was built to raise the tomb’s façade up to 6 m. high (the façade cut on the rock of the hill was only 3 m. high). The wall was built with masonry, and coated with a fine lime mortar. Mud-bricks were used to fill the 2 m. thickness of the wall. The stone blocks were extremely well cut (all of them measuring 30 cm. high), and very carefully placed one next to the other. The rear side of the wall measures 1.20 m. high, and it was carefully finished because the access to the “second floor” tombs ran half a meter behind it. On the “second floor street” we found two groups of ceramic vases, mostly bottles typical of the first half of the XVIIIth Dynasty.
Secondly, we opened a trench in the central area of Djehuty’s courtyard. The court’s floor was nicely cut into the gebel; but, at a distance of 12 m. from the tomb’s façade, the gebel continued its descending slope under the level of the court’s floor. The court’s floor had to be filled from that distance to its entrance, 34 m. away from the façade. The purpose of the trench was to learn how the floor was filled, and if there were remains of earlier uses of the area. On the one hand, we found a funerary deposit filled with flower bouquets and broken pottery vases, probably related with a ritual on behalf of Djehuty, conducted during his funeral or at the “beautiful feast of the valley”. Inside the deposit there was also a pig piece of a rope, wooden boards that were originally part of a coffin, a few human bones, and a fragment of a seated statue with a woman holding a lotus flower painted at the left side of the chair. We were able to complete up to 45 vases of two different sizes, both dating to the first half of the XVIIIth Dynasty. The flower bouquets were also 45 in number, most of them composed of persea branches (Mimusops schimperi), but there were also branches of olive tree (Olea europaea), and probably papyrus (Cyperus) and a spices of Salicaceae. These identifications will be confirmed or modified next season by Dr. Ahmed Fahmy, who will join the team to study the plant remains.
On the other hand, inside the court’s trench we found a Middle Kingdom coffin, in a relatively good state of conservation. Its owner was a middle class old lady, adorned just with a fayence necklace. Flood water had ran through the coffin, since a great quantity of mud was found over her body. The coffin has no inscription. It did not have any funerary equipment directly associated with it, although a hes-vase and a clay offering table, both dating to the XIIth dynasty, were found in the trench not too far from it. This find is of relevance, since it attests for the use of this area of the necropolis five hundred years before Djehuty had his tomb built.
Thirdly, in the area in front of tomb 399 two funerary shafts were excavated. The two might have been hewn at the beginning of the XVIIIth Dynasty, but they were reused later on, and then robbed. The shafts were, therefore, emptied and filled more than once, making it difficult to be precise on the dating. One of them (UE-16), measuring 1.80 x 0.85 m, is about 6.00 m. deep, and has two chambers, one at each narrow side of the shaft (east and west). The eastern chamber had about sixteen individuals buried inside, of different ages, but almost half of them were children. The bodies were found in a big mound at the entrance of the chamber. The western chamber had remains of another five adults and one baby. Inside there were few objects: a wooden comb and a basket. At the top of the shaft, fragments of written papyrus were found, and an interesting figurative ostracon with a sketch of a ceiling decoration motive.
The other shaft (UE-17) has a much more solid appearance. The mouth of shaft is 2.45 x 1.15 m., the mud-brick wall being 0.60 m. thick. It is also deeper than the other one: 8.60 m. Due to the unstable quality of the bedrock in this area, the mud-brick wall descended into the gebel 3.00 m., in order to keep straight the rectangular layout of the shaft. The chambers opened this time at the northern and southern sides. The northern chamber is deeper, much bigger and better finished than the other one. At least four individuals were buried inside, together with five fayence rings and several pottery vases that can be dated to the early XVIIIth Dynasty.
OTHER WORKS UNDERTAKEN
Salima Ikram studied the mummified animals, mostly ibis and falcon specimens, found inside an annex gallery connected with one of the burial chambers of the shaft next to the doorway of tomb 399.
Roxy Walker studied the bones of the individual found inside the Middle Kingdom coffin, under the ground of the Djehuty’s courtyard.
Conservation and restoration plays an important role in the project. We have pay attention, as in previous years, to the consolidation of fragile materials as they were unearthed, such as fragments of wooden coffins, linen, papyrus fragments, etc. We have also started cleaning and restoring the walls of Djehuty’s tomb. For this purpose, a geologist has joined the group for the second time. As in previous years, we have been very lucky to have with us the restorer Ahmed Bahdady Yousef.
The documentation of the material culture and of the monuments is done by means of digital photography and epigraphy. These two kinds of records are produced at the same time the excavation progresses. The inscribed blocks found outside the tombs are being systematically studied, and many of them can now be placed back in their original place.
Topography is crucial in the process of the excavation, both to locate the objects found and to draw accurate plans of the architectural structures unearthed.