You are on page 1of 12





In 2006 the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor 2 conducted two separate seasons, from
February 16th, to April 5th (Spring) and from November 1st to December 14th (Autumn). The Spring
season was mainly devoted to epigraphic activities in the Tomb of Harwa (TT 37) and the Tomb of
Pabasa (TT 279), the latter being a concession shared with Dr. Mohammed El-Soghair and Dr.
Mahmud Abd el-Rasek. Excavations in the area of the ramp and entrance portico were also carried
out as a continuation of the 2005 archaeological campaign. The Autumn season focussed on
excavations in the courtyard of the Tomb of Harwa, although epigraphic work to reconstruct of the
rear wall of the southern portico was also continued.
Conservation work in the entrance portico and the vestibule of the Tomb of Harwa continued in

Qurna, December 14th, 2006

Francesco Tiradritti
Cultural Association “Harwa 2001”
S.S. 146 Nord, 6
53045 Montepulciano (SI) Italy

The photographs in this report are by Carlos de la Fuente (Fig. 4) and Francesco Tiradritti (Figs. 1-3, 6); the drawings
are by Janoš Jerončič and Matija Čresnar (Fig. 7) and Sabine Lämmel (Figs. 8-12). The plan of the tomb is a digital
elaboration by Silvia Bertolini of an original by Diethelm Eigner. The English text has been revised and corrected by
Chris Naunton.

The 2006 activities of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor were funded by Compagnia di San Paolo, a private
patron and the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry. The insurance covering the members of the mission was provided by
Toro Assicurazioni S.p.A. The members of the Cultural Association “Harwa 2001” O.N.L.U.S., through their
membership subscriptions and donations, substantially contributed to the success of the excavations. Our warmest
thanks go to all of them. We also would like to thank the authorities of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who greatly
facilitated our activities: Dr. Zahy Hawass, General Director, Sabri Abd el-Aziz, Director of Pharaonic Antiquities,
Dr. Mansur Boreik Director of Upper Egyptian Antiquities, and Aly el-Asfar, Director of the Area of Western Thebes.
Special thanks are due to Hassan Mohammed, Mohammed Bakri and Amru Abu el-Safaa Khalifa, our inspectors,
who accompanied the mission and extended their sincere friendship to us. The help and the support given to us by the
Italian Government, represented in Egypt by H.E. the Ambassador Antonio Badini and the archaeological expert Dr.
Maria Casini, proved, as usual, invaluable.
In 2006 the team was formed by: Francesco Tiradritti (Director and Egyptologist), Silvia Einaudi (Deputy-director
and Egyptologist), Mustafa Mohammed el-Soghair (Deputy-director and Egyptologist), Miguel Angel Molinero Polo
(Deputy-director and Egyptologist), Giacomo Maria Tiradritti (Director of logistics and administrator), Maria
Milagros Alvarez Sosa (Egyptologist), Noemi Delgado Corona (Egyptologist), Federica Raverta (Egyptologist),
Chris Naunton (Egyptologist), Alice Bifarella (Archaeologist), Tina Britovšek (Archaeologist), Saša Čaval
(Archaeologist), Matija Čresnar (Archaeologist), Januš Jerončič (Archaeologist), Sabine Lämmel (Ceramicist),
Silvia Bertolini (Architect), Sophie Duberson (Conservator), Bruno Szkotnicki (Conservator), Carlos Alberto de La
Fuente (Photographer), Giacomo Lovera (Photographer), Laetitia Delaloye (Student), Lucia Diaz-Iglesias Llanos
(Student), Dulce Montesdeoca Martin (Student), Luisa Lagravinese (Student), Ilaria Meschiari (Student) and
Alessio Corsi (Student).
Plan of the Tomb of Harwa (TT 37, in blue) and Akhimenru (TT 404, in red)
2006 Excavations

RA = Ramp
PT = Entrance Portico
VE = Vestibule
CR = Courtyard
NE = Niche Entrance
by Silvia Einaudi, Federica Raverta, Miguel Angel Molinero Polo and Chris Naunton


The excavation of the courtyard is not yet finished. Nevertheless, the upper part of the walls of the
courtyard is already visible. Apart from the western side, around the entrances to the subterranean
part of the Tomb of Harwa and to the Tomb of Akhimenru, only the northern and southern porticos
are decorated. The eastern ends of each and the corresponding half-pillars bear chapters of the Book
of the Dead. The same is true of the west half-pillar of the southern portico.
The pillars of the northern portico are undecorated. Excavations in the 2001 and 2003 seasons
revealed three registers of decoration in the lower part of the rear wall of that portico. The upper
register is decorated with a row of offering-bearers. The second is unfinished. Some scenes of a
tjeref-dance have been exposed in the western portion. In the eastern part the figures are simply
outlined in red ink and it has until now been impossible to ascertain the nature of the scenes. The
north-east corner was more deeply excavated and a portion of the unfinished third register was
brought to light there. The incomplete state of the reliefs proves that the decoration in this part of
the courtyard was still in progress when it was decided to end the work in the Tomb of Harwa.
While artists were working on the lower registers, others were engaged in the carving of a text with
large hieroglyphs, some columns of which are still visible at the western end of the rear wall.
The pillars of the southern portico were decorated on three sides only. Those facing the centre of the
courtyard did not receive any decoration. The work on the pillars was still in progress as is
demonstrated by the fact that the images on some sides of the pillars are partly carved and partly
outlined in red ink. The state of the figures on the western side of the third pillar from the entrance
allows us to say something about the progression of the work. The preserved decoration shows a
scene in which some men are picking something from a tree. The images of the men are at an
advanced state of carving, whereas the branches are simply outlined in red ink (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Detail of the scene with figures of men roughly carved and trees outlined in red ink
This suggests that there were artists who specialised in the execution of human figures and others in
plants implying a high level of specialisation and allowing a dramatic reduction of the labour force.
The decoration of the pillars was repeated in the Tomb of Pabasa which, in this case, has proved to
be extremely useful in understanding the decoration of the Tomb of Harwa. Other than the scene of
the fowling there were others showing the production of honey (since it was inscribed on the upper
part of a pillar it is preserved only in fragments recovered during excavations), the slaughter of a
bull, fishing in the canal, the drying of fish and the production of wine. The remaining sides of the
pillars each bear a row of offering bearers, in some cases with Harwa standing to face them, holding
a stick.
The rear wall of the southern portico was decorated with daily life scenes that take place in front of
a huge image of Harwa standing, at the western end. The scenes are executed in a fine raised relief
similar to that used for the register on the northern portico. The state of preservation of the wall is
extremely poor. Other than the gradual collapse of the rock, the situation has been made worse by
illicit attempts to remove large portions of the reliefs.
To date nine registers of the decoration have been revealed. Notwithstanding their fragmentary
state, it is already possible to identify some of the scenes on the walls: the measuring of the fields
after the annual flood of the Nile; offering bearers; rams, donkeys and cattle belonging to the
funeral estate of Harwa; the fishing in a water-stream (or pool); hunting in the marshland; some
sculptors and artisans at work and various agricultural activities.
It has been also possible to identify other scenes through the analysis of the decorated blocks found
during excavations: the plough (Fig. 2), a different kind of fishing, general metal workers (or
jewellers) and scribes.

Fig. 2. Plough scene as reconstructed from the fragments of the decoration recovered during excavation

Work on the decoration of the walls of the courtyard began in Spring and continued into Autumn.
The blocks recovered during excavations had been collected in cardboard boxes and stored inside
the tomb. Previously the blocks had been examined so that they could be divided according to their
provenance, as some blocks from the subterranean part of the Tomb of Harwa had been recovered
during the excavation of the courtyard. Until this season the decoration of the rear walls and the
chapters of the Book of the Dead incised on the half-pillars and on the east sides of the two porticos
only had been taken into consideration. Although the work is still in the early stages, important
progress has been made especially as regards to the texts of the Book of the Dead. The original
provenance of some fragments from the rear walls have also been found. It is the case of the head of
the red heron (Fig. 3), whose large figure acts as central point of all the scenes of hunting in the

Fig. 3. Red heron in the marshland with the fragment of its head identified through the analysis of the blocks

First Pillared Hall

Registration of decorated fragments from the excavation of the first pillared hall was continued
during the Spring season. In this process the forms used to record each block, conceived in the
previous seasons, have been subject to some minor improvements. A few minor modifications were
also made to the system of transliterating hieroglyph texts in order to facilitate the easy retrieval of
words in the database used to store the data from the registration of the blocks.
Recording of the blocks from the excavation of First Pillared Hall (I) squares A2, 3, 4, 5; B2, 3, 4, 5
and D4 and of the Southern Side Rooms (S) 3, 4 and 5 has now been completed. Due to the number
of blocks, record of square I.D5 is yet to be finished. The total number of blocks recorded during
the Spring exceeds one thousand five hundred.
Most of the data from the block sheets have been recorded on the database.
During the recording of the blocks more pieces from the door frames of the side rooms opening into
the first pillared hall were identified. This substantially improved the reconstruction of these
architectural features, which had been started during the 2003-2004 season. All the blocks whose
precise provenance has been identified have been photographed and stored accordingly. The work
focussed on the door frames of the southern rooms, but the reconstruction of two of the northern
door frames has also begun.
The copy of the inscriptions of the pillared hall of the Tomb of Pabasa (TT 279), conducted in the
2003-2005 seasons, was of great use for the recognition of the inscribed blocks collected during the
excavation of the first pillared hall of the Tomb of Harwa. Thus it was possible to identify about
twenty blocks from the pillars. These have been drawn on tracing paper and the copies stuck onto
the pillars which have been reconstructed in plywood for this purpose. That showed that the
versions of the Ritual of the Hours in Harwa and Pabasa are very similar to each other, although the
distribution of the hieroglyphs is different, mainly due to the fact that the name of Pabasa is, as a
rule, preceded by the full form of his titles.
Fig. 4. Physical reconstruction of the southern side room S4 door frame
by Tina Britovšek, Saša Čaval, Matija Čresnar and Januš Jerončič

The Entrance Portico

Activities in this part of the monument continued as a continuation of the excavations conducted in
Autumn 2005. Further layers of loose sand have been removed. At the western side of the south-
west pillar a small pit has been exposed. It was filled with straw, leaves (vine leaves?). Fragments
of inscribed papyrus bearing texts in Hieratic, Demotic and Greek were found inside the pit (Fig. 5).
It is highly likely that they were discarded by robbers who considered them too fragmentary to have
any economic value.

Fig. 5. Fragments of funerary papyri found in the pit at the

western side of the south-west pillar of the entrance portico

The Courtyard

Excavations in the courtyard were resumed in autumn. The use of a fully digital total station sped
the process of recording which allowed the excavations to proceed dramatically faster than in the
past seasons.
In the first part of the season excavations focussed on the southern part of the courtyard. A large
layer providing evidence that area had been used as a stable was exposed at the centre. The
collapsed parts of the upper part of the ceiling of the southern portico were also almost completely
excavated. Associated with them a rectangular block of sandstone with rough signs of chisel was
discovered. It may belong to a ledge intended to lie over the ceiling of the portico and which may
have had to be carved with huge hieroglyphs. This architectural feature is evident in the Tomb of
Sheshonq (TT 27), one hundred years later than the Harwa’s and located to the East at the edge of
the desert, close to the cultivation. Another sandstone block, intended to act as cornerstone, had
previously been discovered in the excavation of the South-East corner of the courtyard. It is
possible that when the works in the Tomb of Harwa reached their sudden end, the ledge covered
only the southern portico, since no similar blocks have been found in the excavations of the
northern part of the courtyard.
Excavation of the southern area of the courtyard exposed further contexts relating to the action of
robbers. The recovery of some fragments of the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, dated
December 31st, 1895 – January 1st, 1896 (Fig. 6), show that, although approximately one metre of
debris in the courtyard have been excavated, the contexts recently exposed nonetheless belong to a
late chronological phase in the history of the tomb.

Fig. 6. Fragments of Il Corriere della Sera, December 31st, 1895 – January 1st, 1896

That is also evidenced by the recovery of the remains of several mummies during this season. They
have been mostly found scattered in correspondence with the entrances to the subterranean part of
the tomb of Harwa, and the southern branch of the corridor that surrounds it. The robbers took them
from the burial shafts, which date to the Greco-Roman Period and are found in various parts of the
monument. They unwrapped the mummies, removed any valuable items, such as cartonnages and
amulets, and eventually discarded them. It is worthy of note that the majority of the mummies found
were lying face against the ground so as to make it impossible for them to recognise the robbers.
That their placement was intentional and was dictated by superstition is further demonstrated by the
fact that most of the mummies have had their legs or feet broken, to prevent them from walking or
persecuting their injurers.
In the second part of the season excavations moved to the western side of the courtyard. The lower
part of the decoration of the niche-entrance northern wall was exposed. It was, unfortunately,
severely damage and it was only possible to uncover the lower part of a figure of Harwa seated in
front an offering table.
Excavations in front what was believed to be the entrance to the Tomb of Akhimenru demonstrated
that the opening in the northern wall has instead to be considered a break in the wall. The feature
looks like a sort of chapel on whose rear (West) wall is carved a niche where either a statue or a
stela was once placed.
Fig. 7. The state of the excavation of the courtyard at the end of Autumn season
Sabine Lämmel

In the course of the 2006 Autumn Season, work on the pottery from the tomb of Harwa was
resumed after a few years interruption, and the detailed study of the material found in the first
pillared hall (Area I) and in two of the pillared hall’s north rooms (Rooms N2 and N3) was carried
forward on the basis of the preliminary observations made by A. Seiler in 2000 and 2001. Besides
the study of these specific assemblages, a general framework for future activities and research on
the pottery from the tomb was also set up. This consisted primarily of designing pottery analysis
forms and in establishing a system of clay classification for the different fabrics attested in the
tomb. At present, five main groups of silt fabrics and three of marl fabrics have been defined. This
system can be used satisfactorily for the material dating from the 4th century BC to the late
Ptolemaic Period but its suitability for later and, to a lesser extent, for earlier phases (in particular
with regards to the marl fabrics groups) must be tested in the future.
For this first renewed pottery study season in the Tomb of Harwa, special emphasis was placed on
the detailed examination of the material from Room N2, firstly because of the sheer amount of
pottery – including several restorable, complete or nearly complete vessels – this room yielded, and
secondly because much of this pottery seemed, at first sight, to belong to a relatively homogeneous
assemblage (stylistically and typologically). Room N2 was emptied of its debris during the 1997
excavation season. Its floor was found literally covered with a c. 20 cm thick layer of densely
packed sherds. In all likelihood, these originated from a clearance of the first pillared hall, perhaps
sometimes during the Ptolemaic Period.
Notwithstanding a few later and earlier intrusions, the great majority of the material from Room N2
can be dated to the Pre-Ptolemaic and early Ptolemaic periods, approximately from the beginning of
the 4th to the beginning of the 3rd century BC. The typological range of this assemblage is relatively
restricted. Among the most common and/or distinctive shapes attested in Room N2 are a number of
two-handled silt clay jars with globular body and, probably, rounded base; silt clay “sausage-jars”
of various sizes (Figs. 8-9) and large wide mouth jars, painted with stylised floral motifs, horizontal
bands and net-patterns, typical of the Ptolemaic period in the Theban valley. There is also a large
number of fragmentary marl jars with two or four handles and ridges on the shoulder and neck, as
well as a series of large hemispherical silt clay bowls with one or two ridges below the mouth (Fig.
10). Both these shapes are often attested in connection with embalming activities at various
Egyptian sites and the presence of thick layers of bitumen inside a fair number of the jars from
room N2 suggests that these vessels also were once used for such a purpose, even though they were
not found in their original context. Finally the last main component of the assemblage discussed
here consists of small flat-based shallow cups and footed beakers, many of which bear soot marks
on their internal and external walls (Figs. 11-12). These small vessels are known in the first part of
the Ptolemaic period, though they appear before that, at the outset of the 4th century BC at least. As
has been suggested above, their presence in the tomb of Harwa (they are also numerous among the
material from the first pillared hall) should perhaps be connected with a secondary use of the main
part of this funerary monument as a sanctuary dedicated to the god Osiris.
A brief examination of the pottery from the first pillared hall and from Room N3 suggests that these
assemblages are in many respects comparable to that of Room N2. However, a more detailed study
of these pottery groups – in particular of those from the first pillared hall – is needed in order to
complement the preliminary results presented here and to shed further light on the history of the
tomb of Harwa.