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labelThe Dig Diary 2001--Part 2

Monday 1 October

Today we start to get into our routine for starting work early in the morning. For the present, we're going to be at the tomb at 7 am or shortly thereafter.

We spent the first part of the morning sorting out some of our equipment. The plan is that when the work for this season is over, we will pack up all our stuff and move it to a place of storage. We needed to find a number of things necessary for work, and thus it seems sensible to do a preliminary sort out of a couple of the main bags.

After that, we looked at the remaining wall plans of the pillars of the tomb. Follow this link for a description of what this means. These had been drawn up not long before we left, and it is just a matter of correcting them and adding details missed last year. Here you see a picture of Helen adding corrections.

Tuesday 2 October

This morning we encounter our first problem of the season. Tony Waldron has not been well in the UK, and is unlikely to be allowed by his doctors to travel. So we need to devise some way in which we can at least find some way to learn something about the bones, in the hope we can in some way get him or another specialist back to the tomb to look at this important material.

We decide that the way to go is to sort out the bones from Senneferi's burial so we can get some idea of what is there, and then photograph them as carefully as possible. Then at least some preliminary ideas can be drawn up. Of course neither Helen nor I know anything about bones; we cannot tell the sex of a skeleton, nor how old, nor if there is anything interesting from the pathological point of view. However, we can try and put similar bones together, and we spend much of today reassembling parts of several skulls and jawbones (it's not unlike doing pottery work...). A short video (220K) shows Helen doing this.

The material from Senneferi's chambers is important as it does not appear from the other material analysed that the shaft was used again, and thus we have a good chance of finding Senneferi himself and whoever was buried with him.

What is interesting is that we find we have got parts of no fewer than five skulls. Given that the other archaeological material shows no signs of any burial or use of the shaft later than the 18th dynasty, we have to conclude that these people were buried there. If only we could tell which one was Senneferi! The photo at right shows four mandibles (jawbones); there is also an elaborately mummified head shown in the 1998 Dig Diary.

In the course of the day Abdul-Rahman returns to work with us. It is great to see him again!

Wednesday 3 October

We continue with looking at the bones, first finishing off the skulls. The most intriguing of all is the one referred to yesterday. This is elaborately mummified, and of course we all want this to be Senneferi himself, but the fact is that neither Helen nor I have the slightest idea of whether it is male or female to start with! The photo here shows a close-up of the rear of the head, showing the short curly hair.

So we continue with sorting the bones to see what we have from the different people in the tomb. For most parts of the body which we can identify we reckon we can find representative samples of three sets of bones. We think we can work out the various leg and arm bones, as well as the backbone and collarbones, but we cannot do the smaller bones of the hands and feet. Still, from the jawbones, we know we should have parts of five people, unless large parts were removed by robbers (?).

For most of the bones, while we can make up pairs of similar bones for the legs, arms etc, we are not able to say that these arms go with these legs and so on. But there is one exception, which is the body to which the elaborately mummified head belongs. The characteristic of the process on this individual is the use of massive amounts of a thick white material (yet to be identified) to pad the body out, and thus we can identify bones which bear small or large traces of this. So far we have put together parts of most of the major areas of the body, which is really exciting. I hope this is Senneferi! The photo at right shows some of the pieces laid out today.

Thursday 6 October

Yesterday evening Pamela Rose arrived from England. This morning she gets straightaway down to the job of getting the pottery study finished. Pottery has been the single largest result of our excavations, as in almost all digs in Egypt. One principal area of excavation has not yet had its pottery examined--Shaft H in the courtyard. So we start by opening up the shaft in which we stored this material at the end of the last season, and Pamela is soon busy. She had noted in the previous year that the material in the chamber at the very bottom of that shaft seemed to be 18th dynasty, making us think that it could perhaps belong to descendants of Senneferi. After a couple of hours she is more convinced than ever that there is 18th dynasty material there unmixed with the later material seen further up the shaft. So this is exciting news, but it's going to take her and Gillian Pyke (arriving tonight) something like a week to get through this part of the pottery. The possibly of it being an 18th dynasty complex means that Helen and I, who were not going to look at the Shaft H bone, will have to examine at least part of it, to get some idea of what might be there.

But in the meantime we have to finish off the Shaft I bones. I continue photographing, while Helen looks through the material from the horizontal corridor of the tomb. There she finds large parts of one more body, to which probably belongs some skull and jaw fragments found nearer the burial chamber. Thus we seem to have a range of body parts for all five individuals so far identified. We can imagine that the bones looked at today might have been pulled out and ransacked in the corridor and some parts fell back down the shaft. Another thing we record is some animal bones in the chamber. The presence of such is to be explained as either or both food for the deceased or that they were there for purposes of burial ritual. If we know little about human bones we known nothing about animal ones! The photo at right shows a limb of ?? a cow??

Round about midday Heike Behlmer arrives from a 4 am flight from Germany. Heike is a Coptic specialist from the University of Göttingen, and has come to examine our 100 or so ostraka of the Coptic period. I give her the usual orientation tour of the tomb, and then we head off home for lunch.

All text and images © Nigel & Helen Strudwick 2001

© Nigel Strudwick 1997-2018