German Expedition

Supported by: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) Abteilung Kairo, University of Berlin, University of Hannover

Director: Günter Dreyer

Area: Unas pyramid cemetery

 

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The German project started in 1970 as an epigraphic survey of Old Kingdom tombs along the Unas causeway, directed by Hartwig Altenmüller and Ahmed Moussa. Examples of their work are the publications on the tomb of Nefer and that of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep ('the Two Brothers') which are situated along the central part of the causeway. Later the interest of the expedition shifted to the western part of the causeway, where for instance the tomb of Mehu was recorded. When Peter Munro took over, the expedition gradually concentrated on the 2nd Dynasty royal tomb of Pharaoh Ninetjer, which was first explored by Selim Hassan in 1937-1938. This has the shape of a vast labyrinth at 3.5 to 6 m under the desert surface and is now accessible via a shallow shaft situated between the mastaba of Nebkauhor and the Unas causeway. In 2003, the excavations were taken over by Günter Dreyer, who is a specialist in the field of Early Dynastic Egypt and is also excavating in the contemporary royal cemetery at Abydos. He has established that originally the entrance had the shape of a 25 m long sloping corridor running right under Nebkauhor's mastaba, whereas nothing has been preserved of the superstructure of Ninetjer's tomb. He has also cleared the full extent of the galleries which present the appearance of a model palace with bedrooms, dining rooms and even toilets. Several new Archaic inscriptions have turned up, as well as extensive funerary material belonging to intrusive burials of much later date. An interesting recent find on the surface over the galleries is that of an enclosure wall with bricks stamped by King Horemheb, which presumably has to be associated with Horemheb's general's tomb in the area of the Dutch concession.