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The projectDjehuty aims at the excavation, restoration and publication of an area of the necropolis of theancient Thebes. The latest discovery of the team, led by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), has been a Anthropomorphic coffin from the 17th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt (about 3,600 years ago) on the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga, inLuxor (Egypt).
Inside it rested on the right side the mummy of a woman of about 15 or 16 years and 1.59 meters high with his trousseau: two earrings, two rings and four necklaces, one of them of great value.
The coffin, made of wood painted white, has been discovered a few meters from the entrance patio to the tomb-chapel of Djehuty (supervisor of the Treasury and the artisan works of the queen Hatshepsut), next to a small adobe chapel from 1600 BC. C.
It was carved from a single tree trunk, probablySycamore, and measures 1.75 high by 0.33 wide.
According to the researchers, it was abandoned on the ground by grave robbers in ancient times. Despite this, it was left with some care and unopened.
A very jeweled mummy
After taking an X-ray of the mummy inside its coffin, archaeologists discovered that it carried twoslopes on the left ear and tworings (one in each hand), one made of bone and one of blue glass with a setting and a string around the finger.
On the chest had been placed, forming a small pile, fournecklaces between 61 and 70 centimeters in length. Two of them are made with faience beads (a type of handmade ceramic with a glassy finish) of different shades of blue.
A third combines faience beads with green glass beads.
“The fourth is the most elaborate and valuable, as it is made up of 74 pieces of different shapes carved in amethyst, carnelian and other semi-precious stones that have not yet been identified, in addition to glass, and seven faience amulets.
An amber hawk, representing the god Horus, appears to have been the central figure, flanked by two scarabs (Egyptian amulets shaped like a dung beetle).
The richness of the trousseau for such a young person and with a relatively modest coffin is surprising ”, he highlightsJosé Manuel Galán,researcher at the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East (of the CSIC) andDjehuty project coordinator.
In the area of the necropolis where these objects have been unearthed, it was ordered to bury at least three kings of the seventeenth dynasty and, along with them, some members of their families and courtiers of the time residing in Thebes.
“To date, a dozen coffins have been found at the site, left on the ground without any protection, something unusual. Furthermore, the percentage of child and female burials is also higher than in other parts of the necropolis ”, Galán details.
A small coffin dedicated to Djehuty
On the other side of the adobe chapel, a small clay coffin has been found, 22 centimeters long by 15 wide, which still had knotted the rope with which it was intended to remain closed.
Inside he had deposited a wooden human figurine (shabti) wrapped in four linen bandages tied around the neck and ankles.
The four fabrics are different and one of them bears a horizontal inscription, in hieratic writing with black ink and cursive characters, which identifies the owner as "The Osiris, Djehuty". That samelabelit was written vertically on the front of the body of the mummiform figurine.
“Djehuty was a relatively popular name between 1600 and 1400 BC. In this case, the dating must be around the year 1600 BC. C., that is, more than a hundred years before the existence of the character that gives the project its name and who was buried in a large tomb not far from the place where the small coffin and its miniature mummy were found. The tomb or the chapel to which the latter must be associated is still unknown ”, explains the researcher.
Sandals, leather balls and metal objects
In the same area of the site, but this time within aburial pit, the archaeologists found during the campaign last year a pair of dyed leather sandals with embossed decoration (worked on metal plates to obtain figures in relief), including a couple of cats, Ibex goats, a rosette, the hippopotamus goddess Toeris / Taweret and the figure of the god Bes.
Due to their size and the presence of two deities associated with pregnancy and childbirth, the sandals could have belonged to a woman who must have lived around 1600 BC. C.
Just below the sandals, a pair of leather balls stuffed with barley husk, joined together by a string. They could also have been part of a woman's funeral property.
From a later time (from the 20th dynasty, around 900 BC), the project has brought to light two metal objects inside the body of two mummies that had been dismembered and violently opened by looters at the time. ancient.
“Paradoxically, what the thieves were looking for the most, which was metal and semi-precious stones, were the ones they did not see because they were acting too fast and with too little lighting. One of the bodies still had in place a tin plate with the Eye of Horus engraved on one of the faces, which would protect the body from rot. Tin was at that time a valuable metal because it was very scarce and very few plates of this type have been found.in situ”, Explains Galán.
In the second body, in the place of the heart, a handful of yellowish earth had been placed and, on this, a necklace of eight gold-plated silver plates.
The necklace must have gone unnoticed by thieves because the embalmers spilled resin on it, blackening the gold.
The eight small plates are each engraved with an amulet that, supposedly, would protect those who wear it around their neck from different evils. After cleaning the plates of resin, the necklace has returned to shine as before.
Installation of a replica of a funerary garden
The last campaign of this archaeological mission has also involved the installation of a replica of a funerary garden discovered by the archaeologists of the project in 2017, at the entrance to a large tomb from 2000 BC.
Each of the squares into which this mud and adobe garden was divided, known only for its iconography, conserved the remains of plants from 4,000 years ago.
As it is the only well-preserved and documented funerary garden of this type to date, the project, thanks to funding from the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE – USAID), commissioned an exact replica of the garden in Madrid, in collaboration with Factum Arte. This was transferred to Egypt and has been mounted on the rigid structure that covered and protected the original garden.
"When in a couple of years, visitors come to enjoy the interior decoration of the tomb-chapel of Djehuty and its neighbor Hery, they will be able to contemplate this replica of one of the most significant structures of the necropolis", says Galán.