After spending several days in Cairo to get our contract signed at the offices of the Ministry of State for Antiquities, we’re back in Luxor for our fourth season at Malqata. But, before going to the site this morning, we had the rare treat of a visit to another archaeological site – the tomb of Neferhotep (TT 49) in the Khokha section of the Theban necropolis (not far from the former Metropolitan Museum excavation house). The decoration of this tomb was studied back in the 1930s by the head of Graphic Section of the Metropolitan Museum’s Egyptian Expedition, Norman de Garis Davies and his wife Nina, who is known as the finest color copyist of her day. Their drawings and paintings were published in 1933, and the Museum has on display a number of color facsimile paintings from this time. Unfortunately, because of a serious fire in the tomb, some of the walls had been burned or badly blackened by soot, and many details and even entire registers of decoration were not visible.
Neferhotep lived into the reign of Aya, who ruled for a few years not long after the death of Tutankhamun. Although this was four decades after the reign of Amenhotep III (the king who built the structures of Malqata), Neferhotep is depicted with white hair in his tomb, and it is quite likely that he was born sometime in Amenhotep’s reign. The tomb is now being studied by a team of Argentine Egyptologists who have been working there since 2000. They are collaborating with a group of German conservators who have been cleaning the wall paintings in the tomb with great success, uncovering entirely unknown sections of decoration, and bringing out vivid colors that were once obscured behind a layer of smoky residue. We were all very impressed with the results of their work. To learn more about this, go to the website below.
After visiting the tomb, we went on to our site and walked around with the inspectors to explain what we plan to do this season. This will include some consolidation of the mud brick walls at the Palace, a conservation assessment of the remaining wall paintings, and further clearance of the North Village. But we’ll write more on this in later blogs.
For more on current work in the tomb of Neferhotep, see:
For more on work of the Graphic Section, see:
Catharine H. Roehrig, Peter Lacovara, Diana Craig Patch