This is a photo by Anthony International of Hatshepsut's Mortuary temple at Deir-el-Bahri. Isn't it wonderful? I've linked to Anthony's Egypt set on Flickr as he has an image of the excavations taken on 14th February 2009. Ordinarilly that's what I would have posted but I just couldn't resist this one.
I can't see anywhere on Anthony's Flickr pages to show my appreciaton so if you would like feel free to leave comments here.
I love Jane Akshar's write up of the lectures at the Mummification Museum. Today she addresses the Osiris Chapels at Karnak Temple.
There's another fantastic post on the Brooklen Museum site about their work at the Temple of Mut. There are great photos of their restoration of the Taharqa Gate and Chapel D. I think this is probably the penultimate post for this year as they start to prepare to leave Egypt.
I thought it would be interesting (and helpful to me when I write posts) to run a poll on whether readers think Dr Hawass has indeed found a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings. You'll find the poll at the bottom of the blue sidebar.
Polling is anonymous so don't worry. Nobody will know how you have voted. Once you have voted you'll be able to see the split of the votes.
If you would like to comment you can add a comment to this post.
With thanks to Tim for picking it up (the newsfeed from his site is now working by the way), there's a good article by Robyn Gillam describing new work on the Kings List. There is talk that the work may result in revisions to the dates of reigns, or even additions of new pharaohs to the canon.
I thought it was time to spoil the techies with a picture of surveying in the Valley of the Kings on 19th February 2009 taken by Rachel Cline. I'm sure somebody can add a comment explaining exactly what this shows? Please?
Looking at the second photo your posting of "Photos Clearly Showing the Location of Excavations" on 2/23/2009, By blowing up the photo, I noticed something. If you look at the tented area above KV63, with the two men working in it, there seems to be a hole in the cliffside to the left. Could this be a "Robbers Tunnel"? If so, I'd like to know where it leads or is that an indication that an undiscovered tomb is near by? Only something to think about.
With a massive thank you to the reader who sent me these photos, here are a couple of photos from 8th February showing that the central excavation has been extended further south as a mentioned in an earlier post. This takes the excavation towards one of the sonar anomalies the Stanford Research Institute team detected in 1976.
I love these two photo, again from 14th January, as as they show very clearly the locations and extent of the excavations 6 weeks ago. Notice the activity well to the north (top in the first photo) beyond KV7 and that the central excavation already shows signs of extension south of the cave by KV63 - and indeed the location of KV63 for those who haven't visited the Valley of the Kings since discovery of that tomb.
Just to be clear, the first one is from the southern end of the Valley of the Kings looking north down the wadi. The second is a view from above KV8 looking approximately SE.
A bomb in Khan al-Khalili, Cairo has killed one tourist, a 17-year-old French girl. There are 20 other casualties, mostly tourists.
I haven't linked anything as you'll be best checking your favourite news site for the latest.
Jane Akshar entitled her post about the work of the Polish team at Deir el Bahri which I covered in my previous post, "Search for the 3rd cache". One of the things I have been pondering for the past few days is whether there could be an Amarna cache. There are many missing Amarna royals and it is possible that they have separate tombs, but in the transfer back from Amarna it is also possible that, for reasons of sheer practicality, a joint tomb was necessary.
At that time it also was not uncommon for embalming materials to be buried separately. And if KV63 was a cache of embalming materials, which tomb(s)? was it serving? Is it possible that there is a an Amarna tomb in the Valley containing not one burial but several?
Deir-el-Bahri is the short wadi facing Karmak temple across the Nile which is famous as the site as the Temple of Hatshepsut. The Valley of the Kings lies behind. Deir-el-Bahri is also where the DB320 cache which was discovered in 1881, containing some 40 mummys, many of the royal including such notable pharaohs as Seti I and Ramesses the Great. The tombs in the cliffside are famously inaccessible, these days requiring ropes and a lot of exertion.
For a number of years a Polish team have been search the cliffs for another tomb, either a third cache or perhaps a burial for a single royal. Reports on their work have been very hard to come by but the have recently given a lecture at the Mummification Museum in Luxor and Jane Akshar was present to take notes for her blog.
It is a fantastic post by Jane of what must have been a brilliant lecture by Prof, dr hab. Andrezej Niwinski. There is also a Polish Website. An English version is underway but for now I have linked to a Google translation. The best bit about the Website anyway are the photos so the translation is perfectly sufficient for viewing those.
Jane confesses to excitement at what the lecture covered and I have to agree. So what as got me excited? Well the clear suggestion that there is something underground at Deir-el-Bahri.
- Butehamun the Elder (an inspector from the time of the 21st Dynasty - and possibly another inspector of a similar name) visited the cliffside eerie. Clearly he had some reason to go to such effort (and possibly in those days some danger) to reach somewhere so inaccessible.
- There are robber tunnels. What were they looking for?
- A 100 ton boulder has been moved by Ancient Egyptian workers and apparently placed on top of something.
- There is system of drains diverting water away from something.
- The Egyptian form of concrete, disguised as rock, has been used to seal two fissures to protect against water penetration.
- Radar(?) has detected a void 10m - 12m below the surface.
Jane's post has the details but it does look as though a tomb is hidden here. The theories seem to be:
- The tomb of Amenhotep I as this matches the location in the Abbott Papyrus
- The tomb of Herihor - perhaps re-using the tomb of Amenhotep I
- A third mummy cache
Personally I don't think a Middle Kingdom tomb could be entirely ruled out either.The bad news? Moving the massive boulder is too dangerous to consider...
Statues of Amenhotep III and Hatshepsut have been found in Luxor. So far not a lot of detail but the statue of Amenhotep III is apparently 3m high and in good condition - just a damaged nose and teeth. (Thanks to Tim.)
The quality is less than perfect but for anybody still trying to grasp the location of the current excavatioms, this video taken from by KV62 shows their location clearly. The tent over the excavation by KV7 is clearly visible.
I have contacted the photographer and asked when it was shot but I would guess late January.
If the diagrams on Nicholas Reeves site are accurate, then Feature 5 (aka his KV64) is clearly still beneath the path retained for tourist access alongside KV62.
Some of the reader commentsabout Dr Hawass on recent posts are for my taste a little strong. I have left them because diverse opinions are welcome (although I will delete any which I feel to be unwarranted personal attacks). Personally I have two practical difficulties with his modus operandi. In previous articles I have talked of the frustration that there are no reliable, regular news reports of excavations like the dig diaries we see from Western universities. If the Egyptian teams are to be credible not only must they work to the same standards as the best Western teams, they must also be as transparently open about progress.
My second objection, however, is much more important. Valuable opportunities for fundraising are being missed. Funding for excavation and conservation work is always difficult. Kent Weeks struggled until he found KV5 and I don't think Otto Schaden has raised that much for the work at KV63. And yet very large sums could easily be raised. There was an opportunity with KV63 and an even bigger one with KV64 if it has been found.
When I lived in Clevedon, the pier was restored by public subscription, individuals, families or businesses could sponsor a section of each plank. The idea could probably transfer to Egyptian conservation work, perhaps seeking corporate sponsors for restoration of each of the coffins and jars in KV63.
Obama, however, showed again the power of thousands of small donations. That is the opportunity which could easily be missed. Enaging the public is an even bigger source of funds than corporate sponsorship. The obvious model for a new tomb is the Million Dollar Website. A picture of the opening of a sealed tomb could become one of the archetypal images of the 21st century. By sponsoring each pixel for $1, $1m or so could be raised. All it would take is a website recording the sponsors. If anything equivalent to Tutankhamun's mask was found, then that picture could raise even more.
It's not the way Egyptology works though. The SCA, to my mind, is also making a mistake by allowing Dr Hawass to release the news through his own site. Commercially news should be released on an SCA site and the SCA branding reinforced. The commercial opportunities for major new discoveries go well beyond the big media companies and, with active outreach, millions of individuals could also be encouraged contribute. More than any other archaeological site, save perhaps Giza, the Valley of the Kings holds a fascination for millions of people. The present excavations could easily have been used to raised millions of dollars to fund the excavations themselves and overdue conservation work for the Valley. One only needs to visit YouTube to see that quite random videos are watched tens or even hundreds of thousands of times. A weekly dig diary of a major new find has the potential to attract thousands of regular readers - even advertising space on that diary would raise worthwhile funds.
My chief gripe with Dr Hawass's inability to engage with the public is that a rare opportunity to raise significant funds is being wasted.
For those following through a news reader, there has been several comments on the article "In search of the truth ..." Two subjects dominate: opinions on Dr Hawass and radar surveys.
I have gone back to Nicholas Reeves' site again and looked at the radar images for Feature 6 (KV63) and Feature 5 (KV64). It's striking that Feature 5 is firstly a stronger/bigger response than KV63 and, unless I am still misreading things, considerably deeper than KV63. Dennis made a useful comment on the In Search of the Truth post when he said.
There is sort of a depth scale in Reeves data. GPR transmitter sends out a single wave at the radar frequency/wavelength. In the case of Reeves 400,000,000 Waves per second (400 MHZ) radar the pulse is 1/(400,000,000) seconds long. As it penetrates rock it is absorbed by the rock and reflected back (being absorbed on the return path as well). A sensitive receiver picks up what is left of the reflected pulse as a function of time. The pulse has a characteristic wave length which establishes the smallest detail which can be seen. For Reeves case this is about 3/4 meters long. Think of it as a vertical pixel size. The banded nature of reeves data shows one band per wave length (about .75meters). Try counting bands on the KV-63 data and comparing it to actual depth of the room. When I first figured out what constituted a band and counted bands I got the actual depth of KV-63 chamber floor.
Personally I still struggle counting the bands (somebody may wish to try) but on simple visual inspection, Feature 5 is considerably deeper than either KV63 or the extent of the excavation so far. For me the only way it could be dismissed if if a new GPR survey has failed to repeat the results, although even then one would wonder whether geology was a factor in it not being visible.
Rather than post tonight, I tidied up the presentation of the Recent Comments section. When I get chance I'll try to make similar changes to the rest of the white sidebar to get rid of the scrolling windows.
I know some readers would still prefer a very plain layout. I've set up a mirror site without most of the sidebar material, wider box for articles and very plain formatting. If anybody thinks they may prefer to use that layout, just let me know and I'll send you the web address.
Mary McKercher of the Brooklyn Museum has posted an update on behalf of the team working at Karnak's Temple of Mut. They have now finished their restoration of the north wing of the Taharqa Gate and have started work on the more heavily eroded south wing. The report as usual has photos of their work. There are also some new finds.
A small (12cm) statue of Tutankhamun was reportedly found about 500Km north of Baghdad last week. There are sketchy news reports if you are really interested.
UPDATE: this has now been confirmed as a fake
Talking of the excavation right up against the cliffside, on this thread you can see photos of the large rocks being moved. The thread is in Dutch, but I've linked to the Google translation. Fortunately the pictures speak largely for themselves.
They are somewhat older than the photos I have been posting recently - the central excavation has only just been started - but the picture of the extensive excavations right up against the cliffside is very interesting.
(I am guessing that the tomb being excavated by workers in masks is KV5. It seems to tie up with images of the entrance of that tomb, but somebody may know for certain.)
Zahi: In October we will continue with these two tombs, KV 64 and KV 65, and we found a tomb that’s coming from up down, and we found in the cliff a man made wall, and the bottom area to be like the entrance of a tomb, and working in the Tomb of Seti. This winter the Valley of the Kings will be so busy that no one really can believe what will happen.
Having read the Hawass update on the central excavations in the Valley of the Kings, I am confused as to the purpose of the excavations. These have, by the way, been extended further and I'm hoping to be able to post photos soon.
Hawass has pretty much rubbished the Amarna Royal Tombs Project (ARTP) radar survey (ie the one by Reeves and his team). In which case, there would seem no targets to investigate in the central area. On the other hand Hawass says, "The recent radar survey that my team and the Dash Foundation have conducted used a 200 MHz radar. Although our preliminary results only illuminate the upper levels of the valley, with a radar of this strength, we can refine our results digitally and see much deeper than Reeves’s 2000 study was able to." Is that suggesting the new radar survey has identified potential new targets?
Either the current excavations are working to investigate radar anomalies, or it is blind clearance of the type undertaken by Howard Carter. As the excavations have move beyond the area surveyed by Reeves and ARTP, that seems to me to be a very interesting question.
I might add that I am not convinced the current excavations have explored Feature 5 (Reeves' KV64) which is deeper than KV63 - the current excavations seem to be above the level of the main KV63 chamber unless I am mistaken.
There seems to be a view that the reference by Dr Hawass to a radar survey by Dr Kent Weeks is a slip and he meant Nicholas Reeves. I think not. Kent Weeks and the Theban Mapping Project (TMP) undertook a radar survey in 1986 when they were trying to rediscover known tombs which had been lost again. Apparently the results were poor because the mislaid tombs were debris filled. They swapped to magetometry with more success and was helpful in relocating KV48 and KV49.
So far as I am aware the TMP survey results have not been published.
... about KV64 is the latest article by Dr Hawass. His site has moved and is now located at http://dr.hawass.com/ rather than at the Plateau. At present the new site is just a rework of the material from the Plateau but crucially it has an RSS feed. When I get chance on Sunday, I'll add a filtered feed on the sidebar here so that any news from the Hawass site about Luxor, Amarna or the Valley of the Kings is available in the sidebar here. For anybody who prefers to quickly scan one site for Egypology news, I've added it to http://www.pageflakes.com/Egyptology/ along with this blog, Andy's and Jane Akshar's. If there are others that people scan, I can easily add them there as well.
There are a flurry of stories on Dr Hawass's site from yesterday. Perhaps as a reaction to this site and what Nicholas Reeves has been saying, Hawass indicates specifically that the central area excavation has explored several of the ARTP radar anomalies and found ... nothing other than the huts (which he believes were for storage): he has not found a tomb in the central area. It will be interesting to see Nicholas Reeves' reaction because on the latest photos displayed here the excavation doesn't seem to have covered Feature 5 and, at least one of the anomalies Reeves reported at that location is below the level of the current excavation.
Of the cliffside excavation, Dr Hawass says
That makes no mention of the two tombs which in December he claimed to be opening "within the next month". It is possible that those tombs have proved not to be tombs but Hawass concludes...
"In 2007, the first all-Egyptian archaeological team ever to work in the Valley of the Kings began excavations under my direction. We have been digging in the area between KV7, the tomb of Ramesses II, and KV8, the tomb of Merenptah. The objects that have emerged at this site include a large amount of pottery, as well as a number of beautifully decorated ostraca (painted limestone flakes, often used by artists to practice drawing or by scribes to write letters and other texts). Excitingly, one of these ostraca bears the name of a previously unknown queen. "
For those of us who have relied on Hawass's hints for years, that seems to suggest there is something further for an Egytian archaeologist to announce in due course. Reports from Luxor also seem to suggest that the guards seem relaxed about people photographing the central excavation but have been deleting photos taken on the cliffside excavation. Equally, we should conclude that a news announcement isn't scheduled for the next few weeks.
"Perhaps we will soon spot the real KV64 deep below the paths where tourists walk today. Only archaeology will tell."
While it is good to have a better blog from Dr Hawass, and I have hopes it may develop into something more interactive, for news remains parsimonious. For that reason, I intend to continue this blog as a community reporting effort relying on both news releases and personal observations.
Interestingly, the SRI/Ain Shams team report on finding a number of anomalous echoes, most of which they discount in the belief that they are two close to existing tombs to be an unknown tomb. The subsequent work of the Theban Mapping Project has shown that tombs pass exceptionally close to each other, so the teams' reasoning on this score may have been flawed; perhaps some of these echoes merit re-evaluation. Nonetheless, certain echoes were more interesting, and they list:
In summary, working from within the tombs of Tutankhamun [KV62] and Ramses VI [KV9], we saw:Of these, they note the Western anomaly as most interesting, marked on the plan as "unknown void". I think this is the anomaly which in their summary they suggest may be an unknown tomb, but the paired anomalies marked with the crosses may suggest a larger, unknown feature. Their report paper is worth reading in full.
- An echo from the Tutankhamun tomb seen from the Ramses VI tomb entrance looking down.
- Echoes from the Ramses VI tomb seen from the annex and the antechamber of the Tutankhamun tomb looking upward.
- Echoes from known objects to the south and west of the annex of Tutankhamun's tomb, one over 20 m away.
- Echoes from unknown features to the south and west of Tutankhamun's tomb annex.
- Geologic inspection to determine areas of unnatural debris accumulation.
- Sampling debris accumulation for pieces showing signs of tool marks and graffiti.
- Examining the samples of (2) for trace bronze content from tools. Either x-ray fluorescence or atomic absorption spectroscopy or neutron activation would give adequate sensitivity.
Image 3 (The photo shown above in reduced size)
PS. Anybody interested in the huts of Deir el-Medina should visit Lenka Peacock's excellent site. There is a permanent link to her site on my links page.
I've now restored links at the bottom of the blue sidebar. I've added links to the full archive of articles on KV63, KV64 and KV65. Remember there is also a search option, but I can add more groupings (eg Amarna) if anybody wants. I've also added a hyperlink there to the Links page. That page is still a bit ugly but in due course I'll modify the template so that it looks like a proper page rather than an article (which it is - but hey, it's appearance that counts) and fill it out properly.
Following on from the previous post, the same reader carried on with a further interesting line of thought, drawing on two books (one of which I think I may have - but can't find):
- “The Complete Tutankhamun: The King, The Tomb, The Royal Treasure – By Nicholas Reeves” published in 1990
- ”the Discovery of The Tomb of Tutankhamen – By Howard Carter & A. C. Mace” published 1977.
This is what what the reader had to say
There is an interesting photo of the same area [Kate: ie the central excavation] taken in 1921, showing the excavation in front of the entrance of Ramesses VI (KV9). The photo in the first book is on page #51 and on page #87 in the latter. The photo shows excavation pits on either side of the entrance to KV9. But in these photos, they show that Howard stopped digging over the location of the “KV64-Feature 5 of Nicholas Reeves” radar hit. It is also interesting that in Howard’s book, page 82 -87, he describes the 1921 dig clearing in front of KV9 by saying that, “In the course of the season’s work we cleared a considerable part of the upper layers of this area, and advanced our excavations right up to the foot of the tomb of Rameses VI. Here we came on a series of workmen’s hut built over masses of boulders, the latter usually indicating the the Valley the near proximity of a tomb. Our natural impulse was to enlarge our clearing in the direction (going north), but by doing this we should have cut off all access to the tomb of Rameses above, to visitors one of the most popular tombs in the whole Valley. We determined to await a more convenient opportunity.” On the following pages, Howard waits for the start of the next year’s digging season. This time however, he starts his digging from the north to south and finds Tutankhamun’s tomb. Thus, by starting in the north to south direction , on the opposite side of the entrance to KV9, and not pick
up going south to north from the previous season, he may have left KV64 to be
discovered in our day. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
I confess that when I first heard Nicholas Reeves say that Feature 5 was a unopened tomb and announced it as KV64, I felt he was being a bit previous. With the help of these comments, and reading the recent posts by Nicholas on his website, I am increasingly confident that he has called it correctly. As the remarks above make clear, Howart Carter found KV62 before he could excavate above ARTP Feature 5. I am also now pretty sure that the radar image does indeed show a chamber and that by the middle of January the central area excavation hadn't yet investigated the area above the feature. However, if this was more than a shaft tomb, we cannot be sure where the entrance may lie.
It is now well understood that piles of boulders can be evidence of a tomb in the vicinity, and that tombs can be obscured by huts sited above them. The huts in the central area excavation suggest it is a ripe area for a tomb; however, they are very close to KV63 and it may be that Otto Schaden has already found the tomb they may be associated with.
With permission from the reader concerned, I wanted to share with you some thoughts I received by email from a reader as they give an interesting perspective on how the excavations relate to the ARTP radar survey, and for those of us less familiar with such things, how to understand radar surveys.
Interesting photos taken by Mr. Hay. In the photos, it would appear that the digging is now going north from the workmans huts. It's almost as if Dr. Hawass is clearing the area so he can start concentrating on the "Features" detected by Nicholas Reeves. Looking back at the location of these features, (Features #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 #7 & #8)the present excavation appears to be right down the center between all of them. By leaving a pathway in front of KV62 & the "Rest Area", He (Dr. Hawass) may have done this so as not to disrupt both the foot traffic and needed tourist money from visitors to the valley. He can now "Tunnel" under these pathways that would serve as a cover for his work and shield the public of his findings.
In the “Brian Yare” photos, posted January 23, 2009, it seems that the area of “KV64-Feature 5” would be under the feet of the people standing in the upper right of the second picture. It would also seem that Mr. Yare may possibly be standing over “KV64-Feature 5” in the last photo, as he was taking a shot of the cave next to KV63. That’s my take on it, what do you think?
“Radar is a tricky technology, but well-suited, it seems, to the Valley of the Kings terrain. The radar signal is emitted as a pulse, with the time and the force of the reflection echo measured and appearing on screen as real-time data. It`s important to note that these data are mere patterns and do not represent the actual form or dimension of the object detected. These patterns have to be analyzed as aggregates of arcs, with the display colors varying according to the force and velocity of the various reflection echoes. Different types of underground features nevertheless produce distinctive screen patterns: a pipe, for example, will generate a couple of nested arcs; a ditch a cross-pattern above a couple of nested arcs; and a void or underground chamber - which is the intriguing prospect we seem to have here - a distinctive pattern of radiating arcs: "KV64." Located at some considerable depth, in a part of the Valley which has been out of bounds to most historical excavators, it`s a feature which I guess hasn`t seen the light of day for several millennia.”
This photo by Giorgia Sharm clearly shows the huts and the feaures in the walls that I know have interested some readers.
Giorgia has kindly given me permission to post this photo here and has uploaded the high res version; unfortunately there is something in her Flickr settings stopping me from downloading that. So for the moment I have linked to Flickr. I may need to take this post down yet and re-post, so please bear with me. I will try to get the high res version on here as I know people wish to blow up the features in the wall.
As a complete departure from breaking news, the site L'Egypte d'antan rolls back time with photos of Luxor from the mid-19th century (and of places like Cairo on other pages - including some very interesting old plans of Cairo on the page "Cartes et plans anciens").
I was looking for something else, but got sidetracked ... as usual. Anybody who knows what Luxor looks like now may like me find them fascinating. To whet your appetite, I've just shown one showing Luxor Temple taken by Frances Frith. Frith made three visits to Egypt, and this picture was taken on his first visit during 1856.
Thanks to Andie Byrne for linking to the Preliminary Report by the University of Pisa 2008 season in tomb TT14. The photos in that report are stunning, there's a really clear plan of the site and good, informative text. Recommended reading.
In January, as the conservation work began in earnest on the coffins, the KV-63 team also began opening some of the remaining storage jars. Jar number 13 was the first to be examined and proved to contain some of the most interesting items…. including a wooden bed. The bed had been broken into many pieces to fit inside the jar, but is now completely restored. The bed features the customary lion head decorations at the head end and the raised footboard on the other; its length is 170 cm. There are no “feet” to speak of, so it may have been used simply to hold a coffin or mummy “off” the ground during the embalming process. Some strange boards covered with linen and adorned with possible “feet” were also in Jar 13. When these items are conserved, we will see if they have any possible connection with the bed as
There are also even more 2009 photos on the site.
The storge jar count is now up to nearly 40 and Dr Schaden says they are nearly identical to those found in KV54 (that's the cachette/tomb used for Tutankhamun's embalming goods). That's very interesting. As Sherry said in her message to me, it's looking practically certain that KV63 is an Amarna era tomb (or immediately post-Amarna depending on how one views these things). These clearly aren't the embalming goods for Tutankhamun - they are in KV54. So there has to be at least one other Amarna era tomb in the Valley. At present, all we have is KV55 (in terms of identified, major tombs) so KV63 could be linked with KV55 (as KV54 is linked with KV62). That in itself would be interesting as KV55 is one of the most enigmatic tombs in the Valley.
But this certainly raises the possibility that there is an undiscovered Amarna era tomb in the Valley. Maybe Reeves is right and Nefertiti has a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, but there are other candidates such as Meritaten, the daughter of Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti.
It also raises interesting questions about burial practices. Why are embalming caches being found for the Amarna period but not earlier or later? Were practices different in the Amarna era? That would suggest that KV63 and KV54 were cut during the Amarna period itself when the court was based at Amarna, rather than once the court had returned to Thebes (Luxor) as by then supposedly the old ways were re-instated. Or were they? But even the practices themselves are interesting. Was there a production line of funerary goods prepared against need then only assigned to a member of the family (and suitable inscriptions added) when he or she died? Or does KV63 represent a cache of coffins for children who didn't need them because they grew up - or perhaps different stages in the life of one or two children? Or were they for members of the family who ultimately were denied a royal burial.
While KV63 doesn't seem as exciting as if a mummy had been found interred, maybe in the long run it will prove to be one of the most revealing finds in the Valley.
(PS Dr Schaden refers to tombs with a hyphen. I prefer without. Unfortunately Google doesn't recognise the two as the same so I've now added hyphenated versions to the tags. I'll sort out a way of filtering posts in due course - I've now fixed the bug that meant you couldn't browse back to older posts so things are slowly improving.)
This photo intrigues me. It is from David Hay's set. It seems to show a worker carrying a heavy basket (full of stone?) from an area slightly to the right of the excavations by KV8 ie the other side of KV7. If you look, there's another photo in the set that seems to show activity in this area. It's not where stone is being taken to be dumped - I'm told that the excavated stone is being taken to the Western Valley. Have the excavations been extended into a third area?
David, by the way, has some more intriguing photos which aren't on Flickr (upload limits) but we wonder if they show the team from Helsinki university. I'll pop them up here but I'd prefer to clarify whether they are the Helsinki team or not first. Does anybody have any photos of the area in which the Helsinki team were working on the huts up in the hills?
The one I have chosen to start with shows the location of the central excavations in relation to tomb KV63 - that's the ladder going down in the background. I have chosen that because very few pictures of KV63 have been posted, it isn't on the Theban Mapping Project maps yet, so it can be hard to understand where it is. It also shows us to fix the location of the square feature by the huts (now seen to be too shallow to be called a shaft) much more accurately. It is now obvious that this is much closer to KV63 than Feature 5 (aka "KV64" as designated by Nicholas Reeves). I'll post more on that as well.
The Finnish team investigate village of the huts of the workmen who built the tombs in the Valley of the Kings is now over. This isn't the huts exposed in the current excavation in the central area by KV63, but the village originally discovered by Bernard Bruyère in 1935 halfway between the Valley and Deir-el-Medina. Science Daily has the story.
Thanks to Bennu for highlighting this.
Geoff Carter has an article on his Theoretical Structural Archaeology blog about the threats to wooden objects in Eyptian tombs. Talking about KV63, Geoff says
Pop over to Geoff's blog for the full article.
The tomb turned out to be a cache of material associated with mummification and other aspects of burial; clearly it was thought inappropriate to throw such materials away. The dryness of the tomb had preserved rare organic finds such as pillows and mats, but initial interest focused on 7 wooden coffins, some with beautiful painted faces. On closer inspection, termites had attacked all but two, so that in places it was the decoration that was holding the object together. This is a conservation nightmare, and stabilising these objects so that they can be removed from the tomb to lab, usually in pieces, is a slow and painstaking task. It has been suggested that the termites may have arrived from workmen’s huts constructed by later tomb builders, - the same huts that hid this, and Tutankhamun’s tomb, for over 3000 years.
Update - I was wrong!
I've left my original post, but I was wrong. Going back to Brian Yare's photos of 23rd January, the bottom is clearly visible. It's actually rather shallow. I'm also swapping emails with somebody who thinks I'm wrong about this lining up with KV64 - and I may be.
Ah well, nothing wrong with public embarassment! I still think it has to be an ancient feature though as it is definitley cut through bed rock. I wasn't entirely wrong - just about this and Reeves' KV64!
I've cross-matched the "shaft" on David Hay's photos with the ARTP radar surveys. It's hard to be certain, but so far as I can tell the shaft lines up with Feature 5 of the ARTP radar survey. Feature 5 is the one which Nicholas Reeves dubbed KV64. This is how Nicholas Reeves describes that feature:
Feature 5 [= `KV64`]
Traverses I and J, lying to the south of the main grid. Traverse I displays two separate reflections - the first relating to Feature 5, the second to Feature 6 (see below). It is possible that the reflections detected in traverses I and J do not relate to the same feature, since the J reflection seems to be very much deeper - the deepest in the area. [For a different screen capture, see here.]
So, when we get a press release in due course, we will now for certain whether Nicholas Reeves was correct to call KV64. If it is a tomb, then I doubt it will end up being KV64 - but let's not quibble about details; this time Nicholas needs to make some noise about it before it is announced publicly otherwise the credit which is perhaps rightly his will go to somebody else just as it did for KV63.
I'd be grateful if somebody could check whether they agree with me that this "shaft" is pretty much on top of the ARTP Feature 5.
For all my - and others' - gripes about Dr Hawass's failure to keep the public informed, he is a first rate archaeologist and cares passionately about the Egyptian monuments. On many occasions he has shown he his prepared to wait, do things properly, rather than rush a discovery. If this shaft is on top of Feature 5, I don't believe Hawass would have dug through solid rock and risked breaking through the roof of a tomb. That is not his style. He would have taken the trouble - he has the resources and the time to do so - to find the tomb entrance. Logic suggests that Hawass would not have excavated this shaft through solid rock and that it must have been a feature created in Pharaonic times. Even had Carter - or tomb robbers for that matter - excavated the area, he wouldn't have sunk the shaft into solid rock either - he had no radar survey to indicate that it was a point of interest. Everything seems to suggest an original feature. Being so obviously square, it is also unlikely to be a natural geological feature.
Unfortunately I cannot convince myself that the shaft must indicate a tomb - it could perhaps be a well for the workers, or perhaps a foundation for some long-gone feature like an obelisk. Whatever, without knowing the depth and detail of what has been found, I don't think the photo is sufficient to say there is evidence of a tomb.
I am having terrible trouble trying to find a depth scale for the ARTP radar survey, or indeed for the depth of KV63, so I can't decide whether the shaft corresponds to the upper or deeper response that Reeves' notes. Any opinions - or help with the vertical scale - would be appreciated.
David Hay has kindly sent some wonderful new photos he took in the Valley of the Kings about 3 weeks ago. I'll just put them all up at the head of this article, and then comment below. The Images are all copyright to David Hay. I've hosted them on my webspace rather than Flickr so if you click any of the images in this post, it will take you to the original, high quality photo which shows detail much better.
Figure 1 - central excavation by KV62 / KV63
Figure 2 - central excavation by KV62 / KV63
Figure 3 - central excavation by KV62 / KV63
Figure 4 - cliffside excavation looking towards KV8
Figure 5 - that broken pottery ... again
There's no obvious smoking gun in Figure 4 of the excavations by KV8, but there are a few interesting features. Firstly in center foreground there is a modern drain. By rumour drains account for some of anomalies found by Nicholas Reeves ARTP team. The survey equipment is in one of it's most common positions and it's noticeable that the excavation is being extended right down into the central valley area. There is a set of wooden steps just down from the entrance to KV8 (Merenptah). My first guess was that this affords the only current access to KV8, but there doesn't seem to be a path from the top of the stairs up to the entrance of that tomb. The stairs are therefore a curiosity. In front of the bottom of the stairs, there is also a survey pole. In general, this photo seems to show nothing new I can spot?
Figures 1, 2 & 3 are a different story. There are some odd cavities in the floor of the huts but the biggest new feature is the clear square shaft behind the huts towards the cave. While this could conceivably be a new tomb, my personal guess is that is unlikely. Security would be an issue for any new tomb and there is no obvious sign that this shaft could be secured; either it had been very recently discovered when the photo was taken or it is something other than a tomb. My hypothesis at the moment is that it is a sondage (ie a small archaeological trench) to investigate a radar anomaly. I'll cross reference it against the ARTP radar survey pictures tomorrow, but if anybody knows - or suspects - anything then please post a comment.
Those of you who visit this site have probably seen that there's a new progress report from the Brooklyn Museum in the feed shown in the sidebar. For benefit of those who have missed it, it's worth taking a look. They are also intending to go down below Ptolemaic period this year in the important area near the Taharqa Gate.
One of our goals this year is to find out what lies under the Ptolemaic or early
Roman Period houses that fill the area west of the Taharqa Gate. On January 25
we laid out a new square that spans the width of the gate and Mamdouh and his
team got right to work.
There are also some nice photos of ovens discovered during their investigations. If you are interested, the full update from 30th January is here.