Université de Strasbourg

New discovery in Egypt by Fellow Frédéric Colin

04 December 2019

Frédéric Colin with his team and the three sarcophagi

Three sarcophagi dating from the 18th dynasty have just been discovered by Frédéric Colin and his team during an archaeological dig together with the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) near Luxor in Egypt.

Frédéric Colin, professor at the University of Strasbourg’s Archaeology and Ancient History in the Mediterranean Area (ArcHiMedE) research unit and 2019 USIAS Fellow, shares with us the initial news and impressions directly from the funerary temple of Petamenope in Thebes:

The joint mission by the University of Strasbourg and French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) has discovered, for the second consecutive year, a series of well-conserved sarcophagi crafted out of painted wood. They date back to the very beginning of the 18th dynasty.

We believe that these three new sarcophagi constitute a secondary burial, namely that they were buried in the place where they were found after having first been placed in another tomb, and probably even after having been moved to an intermediary conservation site in the meantime.

They were discovered buried in a chamber among very deep cellular earthwork that held up a well-preserved floor inside Padiamenope’s tomb (TT33). We date this back to the New Empire (800 years before Padiamenope’s tomb).

According to our interpretation, the sarcophagi embedded in this earthwork were literally buried underneath the floor of the sacred causeway that led from the flood plain of the Nile up to the Temple of Thutmosis III in Deir el-Bahari. Our work thus reveals for the first time an unknown funerary practice, “burial under the sacred causeway”, which had probably been observed 100 years ago during past excavations near Hatshepsut’s roadway, without really being understood. The deceased who were moved to this collective resting place will thus have been well positioned underneath the passageway of Amun’s Barque when he visited the temples of Deir el-Bahari for important annual ceremonies.

In the 7th century BC, a deep foundation trench dug nearby to install Padiamenope’s pylon miraculously avoided the tomb, leaving it in a pristine state.

 

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