Digging diary, week 2: 18 - 24 March 2017

Opening up the new area on the top of the small hill to the north of Maya's tomb. 


The first week ended this Thursday with a delicious “spaghetti al pomodoro” dinner (one of the advantages of a joint mission with Italians) cooked by Alice with the assistance of our chef Atef. Despite the logistical adjustments, which are always needed in the first days of any excavation, it has been a very interesting week. Thanks to this season's large workforce we opened a new big area of about 20 x 40 m, extending over most of the elevation situated to the north of the tomb of Maya. The first layers we encountered at the top of this small hill clearly derive from the spoil heaps and dumps of previous excavations, in particular of those made in the tombs of Tia and Maya, and it will take quite a lot of patience and time to carefully dig through these substantial deposits over such a wide area. Closer to Maya's northern outer wall, we have been just removing superficial deposits of loose sand in order to bring back the slope to its original appearance, when in the late 1980s the tomb of Maya was being excavated: a real time-travel experience! We found the cuts, the deposits and the structures reached by the then EES-Leiden mission and in the backfilled trenches, together with newspapers, leaflets or adverts of the time, many discarded pottery fragments, some still bearing the markings of the archaeologists, others still glued together! Moreover, thanks to the stone retaining walls built back then to keep the debris from falling down the slope, we could also have a sneak preview of some of the structures that we'll be reaching in the lower levels of the small stratified hill we're working on.

The late 1980s trench and retaining wall along the northern wall of the tomb of Maya.  The area to the south of Meryneith's tomb. To the right, the shaft uncovered next to Samut's pillar (still under last season's protecting cover). 


Last week was also generous with us in the area to the south of Meryneith's tomb: besides three interesting burials laid in rubble deposits, a funerary shaft – most likely related to the amazing four-sided stela of Samut – has been found and will be excavated next week. Two other shafts were also uncovered: one located to the east of the anonymous Ramesside chapel already found in the previous seasons at the SE corner of tomb X, and a second one, which still needs to be completely outlined, situated in the area facing the chapel of Pay and Raia.

Guda, Valentina and Mohammed joining fragments
in the pottery courtyard within the tomb of Horemheb. 


Few days of work – but already many exciting prospects for next week!

Paolo Del Vesco