Chapter Council Fundraiser

Of Masks and Mummies: The Discovery of a Saite-Persian Mummification Complex; The Saqqara Saite Tombs Project

Ramadan Hussein, University of Tübingen

Saturday, April 4, 2020, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Toronto I
The Hilton Toronto
145 Richmond St W
Toronto, ON M5H 2L2, Canada


The Saqqara Saite Tombs Project was launched in March 2016 as a second round of documentation and re-excavation of six Saite-Persian tombs located to the south and east of the pyramid of King Unas at Saqqara. Discovered between 1899-1903, their burial chambers are extensively inscribed with compositions of religious texts drawn from the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and Book of the Dead. This makes them valuable text sources that should to be studied and preserved. Therefore, the mission of the Saqqara Saite Tombs Project is one of ‘conservation by documentation.’ It employs a 3D digital technique that combines laser scanning and photogrammetry. 

While mapping the site, the clearance activities fortuitously unearthed an unparalleled complex of mummification structures dating back to the Saite-Persian Period. This complex is comprised of a  subterranean embalming/cachette room, a mummification workshop, and a communal burial shaft. A large and diverse corpus of embalming vessels were found in the embalming room. They are inscribed with embalming instructions and names of substances. The mummification workshop is indeed unprecedented in Egyptian archaeology. The hypogeum-like burial Shaft K 24 is remarkable for its several tombs and loculi, which provide insights into the socio-economic background of people buried therein. In fact, this Mummification Complex opens a new avenue for research on what the speaker calls the Archaeology of Mummification in ancient Egypt. 


About the Speaker

Ramadan Hussein

Ramadan Badry Hussein is currently the Director of the Saqqara Saite Tombs Project at the Institute of Near Eastern Studies at the Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen, Germany. He first studied Egyptology at Cairo University from 1990-1994, then worked as an inspector of antiquities at Giza and Saqqara for seven years.

During this time, he received training in archaeological methods and participated in the excavations of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities in Giza, Saqqara, and Bahariyya Oasis. He was admitted to the PhD program of Egyptology at Brown University, 2001-2009. At Brown, his research focused on the ancient Egyptian language and religious texts.  


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