Updated: July 2013
The American Research Center in Egypt is pleased to announce the launch of its new Luxor West Bank Archaeological Field School for local MSA/SCA inspectors. This field school forms part of a larger program of work, funded through USAID, that concentrates on the west bank. The school will focus on the excavation of the forecourt of the Eighteenth Dynasty Theban Tomb of Djehuty, TT 110. The excavation, coupled with an ARCE conservation field school to clean the interior, will provide training to MSA/SCA officials, improve our knowledge of the monument, and ultimately open the tomb for regular visitation.
Although run by ARCE under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Bednarski, this field school capitalizes on a desire to build capacity by being completely organized, staffed, and taught by highly trained MSA/SCA archaeologists.
The field school seeks to teach fundamental concepts central to archaeology, basic excavation and survey techniques, solid recording and archive practices, and the interpretation of a variety of materials. The field school will be divided into two duplicate, eight-week sessions. The first session will run from February 17 - April 11, 2013, while the second will run from April 14 - June 7, 2013.
THE TOMB OF DJEHUTY (TT 110)
This work brings us to the Egyptian city of Luxor, a modern Arabic name for a place once known as Thebes to the ancient Greeks and Waset to the Pharaonic Egyptians. The tomb in question is located on Luxor’s West Bank, not far from where the cultivation ends and the desert begins, in the foothills of the Theban Mountain Range. The tomb lies on the border between an area referred to by historians as Sheikh Abd el Qurna, named after a local village and its mythical founder, and the area around a hill known as Khokha, or ‘peach’. The location of the tomb was a fitting place for someone of significant status to have their body deposited for all of eternity. Not only was the mountain range in which the tomb is nestled considered holy, but burial there guaranteed relative proximity to the Valley of the Kings, and, therefore, the monarch one served in life.
Like much of the landscape of the Theban Mountain Range, the area around TT 110 is honey-combed with tombs. The current entrance is, in fact, through a hole in the wall of an adjacent tomb (TT 42). ARCE’s field school will begin the hard work of clearing about four meters of debris atop the tomb’s original entrance. In addition to providing training for Egyptian archaeologists, this project provides exciting archaeological opportunities. It will help make the tomb more accessible, via its intended entrance, it will provide insight into structures once built in front of the tomb, and it will undoubtedly uncover ancient material for study.
TT 110 was commissioned by a man named Djehuti, pronounced Je-hoo-tee, who was the royal cupbearer to two kings of Egypt. While the position of royal butler sounds unimportant today, it was of great significance in ancient Egyptian society. Social importance in ancient Egypt could be reflected by the physical proximity one was afforded to the king. Titles indicating direct contact, such as handling the cups from which the monarch drank, reflected a trusted position in courtly life. Djehuti maintained this title, and its reflected importance, under two remarkable kings, Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III, and his tomb depicts both of these pharaohs. The tomb may, therefore, afford insight into both the deceased’s relationship to these monarchs, as well as their relationship with one another.
Hatshepsut was born a princess, became a queen upon marrying, and was named regent to the heir apparent after her husband’s untimely death. Not satisfied with this position, she ultimately had herself crowned as Pharaoh, a rare feat in ancient Egypt for a woman, and governed with great authority. Tuthmosis III, the son of Hatshepsut’s husband by another, lesser queen, lived for many years in the shadow of his stepmother. His ascension to the throne, Hatshepsut’s disappearance from the historical record, and the campaign he initiated later in his reign to erase her name and image from Egyptian monuments, have resulted in a plethora of conspiracy theories and romantic scenarios. While the reality of the transfer of power, and Tuthmosis III’s relationship to his stepmother is unknown, what are known are his accomplishments during his life. Tuthmosis III’s military victories helped to greatly expand the boundaries of Egypt’s empire, thereby increasing its wealth, and helping to usher in a new era of prosperity.