Digging Diary Week 7 (13 February - 19 February)

This week has passed very quickly, and we are happy to say that the new tomb has now been fully excavated - apart from its burial shaft and subterranean chambers of course.Two days ago we finally struck the limestone pavement in the courtyard, and we can now properly assess to which extent the tomb was left unfinished. Thus, there are no column bases, so the erection of colonnades had not even begun. There is limestone revetment (albeit largely undressed) along the west wall and the west part of the lateral walls, but there no setting lines or traces of mortar betraying the original presence of such slabs along the other walls. This presents a marked contrast to the central chapel, where the revetment was already smoothened and may in fact have had carved decoration (now robbed away). Thus, we learn a lot about the working procedures of the ancient builders, and the tomb is not so uninformative after all. But of course we would have preferred to have found beautiful reliefs and inscriptions...

Maarten and Christian are happy to find a block with inscriptionsA rough drystone wall was discovered in the centre of the courtyard. This surrounded the aperture of the tomb shaft - a clear sign that it was looted, because such walls were regularly erected by the robbers in order to keep out the drift sand which had already invaded the tombs at the time of their intrusion. The dismantling of these walls is always a special moment, because the robbers used any stone that came to hand, including fragments of ancient monuments. Our expectations in this respect were not frustrated this time, and we discovered no less than a dozen bits of relief and inscriptions giving the names of various tomb-owners. Is the owner of the new tomb one of them?

The work in the subterranean chambers of Tatia is finishedThis week also saw the completion of the work in the tomb-chambers of Tatia: one chamber and an adjacent mummy-niche in the north, another mummy-niche in the south. The latter produced yet another fragment of the Book of the Dead papyrus, this time with a clearly legible name of a man called Suner. We do not know who he was, and otherwise the underground complex did not provide much information. Our anthropologist Frank Rühli was delighted with the excavation of the skeletal remains, however; he is now already on his way back to Switzerland and we hope to see him again next season. Two other team members - Rob Demarée and Ladislava Horáčková - left us this week, and the departure of the others is imminent.

Next week we shall spend on receiving visitors, restoration, cleaning, distribution of the finds over the various storerooms, etc. We hope that the weather will be more pleasant than this week. We realize that our readers in Europe and the States are suffering from the cold and the plentiful snowfall. Yet here we have had a heat wave this past week, with temperatures up to 33 degrees Centigrade, which makes the fieldwork distinctly more arduous and slow.