Category Archives: Tombs

Sorry folks on El Hibeh story

From Dr Carol Redmount

Please note that I have just learned that the airing has been postponed due to other breaking news . . .

how sad – this seems like a pretty important story to me… this means that the story mentioned in the previous post will NOT go to air in the US this Thursday – will let you know if I find out when it will actually air…

El Hibeh remains of a child mummy

Child’s foot. Truly outrageous. Now reburied.

Another exposed and destroyed mummy found beside path back to guard building at El Hibeh. This was reburied.

Another exposed and destroyed mummy found beside path back to guard building. This was reburied.

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El Hibeh – still an issue

From Dr. Carol Redmount

I have just learned that the NBC Rock Center with Brian Williams program “on the chaotic state of Egyptian Antiquities,” in which El Hibeh plays “a prominent part in the story” is scheduled to air this Thurs 10pm on the U.S. East Coast. Filming took place while we were in Egypt. However, I was also warned that if there were any breaking news stories the segment could be postponed. If a web-link is forthcoming I will post it here . . .

TO keep up-to-date with what is still happening in regards to El Hibeh, and at times more generally the state of looting Egyptian antiquities please join the FB page Save El Hibeh Egypt at http://www.facebook.com/groups/337119989673652/

Looter pits are thick on the site at El Hibeh

Looter pits are thick on the site at El Hibeh

Reburying scattered mummy pieces at El Hibeh

Reburying scattered mummy pieces

Coptic era pottery broken at El Hibeh

Coptic era pottery broken at El Hibeh

El Hibeh mummy remains

Destroyed mummy on burial textiles a few meters south of destroyed excavation trench. Now reburied.

El Hibeh North Cemetery. Looted grave with adjacent burned material.

El Hibeh North Cemetery. Looted grave with adjacent burned material.

Looted mummy remains at El Hibeh

Looted mummy remains at El Hibeh

El Hibeh final field update 2012

The field season has now ended for the El Hibeh Excavation team, however the fight to stop the looting goes on. This is the final posting from the field from Dr Carol Redmount.

Another exposed and destroyed mummy found beside path back to guard building at El Hibeh. This was reburied.

Another exposed and destroyed mummy found beside path back to guard building. This was reburied.

We ended our 2012 Hibeh field season at the Ihnasya Magazine on April 19. I am pleased to report that, despite less than ideal conditions, we were nevertheless able to make a significant dent in our ceramic and small objects backlogs during the month we were working. Rexine Hummel processed approximately 1500 sherds, concentrating on selected excavated areas with well stratified Third Intermediate Period archaeological deposits. The object registry team, headed by Joan Knudsen, reviewed, registered and/or rehoused virtually all the material we transported from the Hibeh magazine to Ihnasya (we left behind at Hibeh large and delicate items that would have been problematic to transport). We especially wish to thank our MSA Inspector, Mr. Rabee Akl, for all his support and assistance, the Director of the Ihnasya Magazine, Mr. Atef Helmy, who so generously let us take over his office for our work, and the General Director of the Beni Suef Inspectorate, Mme. Nadia Ashour, as well as the Cairo MSA officials who gave us permission to transport El Hibeh materials to the Ihnasya Magazine and study them there. We are very grateful to all these individuals.

Unfortunately, our number one concern, the on-going and massive looting at the site, continues unabated. We were very pleased that last Tuesday, April 17, an official delegation, headed by Abdel-Hamid Maarouf, Director General of the Pharaonic Sector, came from Cairo to investigate looting at several sites, including Ihnasya and El Hibeh. The delegation stopped very briefly to greet us at the Ihnasya Magazine and then, after visiting Ihnasya, continued on to Hibeh where they reviewed the damage to the site accompanied by many members of the Beni Suef Inspectorate. We were told that the delegation visited the site for over an hour and took many pictures. It is our sincere and very great hope that their visit will result in rapid and direct action being taken to protect Hibeh and other sites from further looting.

We received permission to return our study materials to the Hibeh Magazine from the Ihnasya Magazine on the last day of our field season, April 19. We rented a truck, packed the materials, and returned them to Hibeh where, after some initial difficulties with the local Hibeh guards who manhandled the bags of pottery, we succeeded in getting everything back in place in the Hibeh magazine. We then visited the site one last time during our 2012 field season with our MSA colleagues from the Beni Suef Inspectorate. Our goal was to bury as many of the scattered mummy/ body parts as we could, and to see whether there had been further damage to the tell. Alas, the answer to that last question is that more large-scale looting had taken place since our last visit, and even in the two days that had passed between the visit of the official delegation from Cairo and our arrival. It appears that dirt from the new looting is used to fill and cover up the holes created by previously looting. Distressingly, more fresh body parts were everywhere, including the mummified forearms and lower legs of a small child. The partial mummy of the woman that we had photographed at our last visit, however, had disappeared. Together with our Egyptian colleagues and the assistance of two site guards we reburied as many body parts as we could, as close as possible to where they were found.

Reburying scattered mummy pieces at El Hibeh

Reburying scattered mummy pieces

Although this is our last update from our currently field season in Egypt, it is not our final posting. That will not occur until Hibeh is adequately protected. In the coming days we will add more photos to our albums and continue comparing the various looting photos that we have taken ourselves or been sent with each other and with earlier, pre-looting photos of the site. In this way we hope to track, as best we can, the progress of the pillaging. We will also continue to carry on our work to raise public awareness of the looting problem generally — Egypt’s cultural heritage is, after all, an important, non-renewable resource that is also an important part of world heritage — as well as continue our campaign to get Hibeh and other Egyptian cultural heritage sites protected. I leave Egypt shortly to fly to the annual national meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt (the major professional organization of American Egyptologists), which is also attended by Egyptologists from all over the world, where I will be giving a talk entitled “Collateral Damage” that will review the importance of Hibeh and assess the irreparable damage the looting has done and is still doing to the site.

As always, we thank all of you, Egyptians and non-Egyptians, for your steadfast support and we very much hope you will continue that support as we carry our cause forward past the ending of our 2012 field season. We will not stop our efforts until Hibeh and Egypt’s cultural heritage are protected once more, however long that may be, although we very much hope it will be sooner rather than later.

Looter pits are thick on the site at El Hibeh

Looter pits are thick on the site at El Hibeh

See all the images at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.364071873645130&type=1

El Hibeh Friday update, April 6

Latest update from Dr. Carol Redmount, Hibeh Excavation Team.
Friday update, April 6.

Our study season at the Ihnasya Magazine continues to go well, and Rexine has processed over 700 potsherds. We are almost caught up with recording our small finds. Our two graduate students, Lissette and Elizabeth left us and are now back in the States, but Joan and Andy have taken their places. It has been a pleasure to get to know some of our Egyptian colleagues at the Ihnasya taftish and again we are grateful to the SCA for permission to undertake our study season.

Meanwhile, however, Hibeh remains unprotected and the looters are still free to come and go at will. We continue to work to raise awareness of the looting problem. Media from England, Spain, the U.S., Germany and Finland have shown interest in the last week in helping raise public awareness of the problem. This past Wednesday a group of international media people were supposed to visit Hibeh. They went through all the proper channels and had obtained all the required offiicial permits. At the very last minute, when they were ten minutes away from the taftish at Beni Suef where everyone was to meet, permission to visit the site was withdrawn. For a fee, they were permitted instead to document us working in the storehouse at Ihnasya.

Study potsherds from El Hibeh

Studying potsherds from El Hibeh

We continue to stand with our Egyptian colleagues to work to stop the looting at Hibeh and elsewhere and to raise both local and international awareness of the problem. Once again, we cannot thank you enough, all you members of the Facebook site (http://www.facebook.com/groups/337119989673652/ ) Egyptian and non-Egyptian, for all your support. We are all working together to get not only Hibeh protected someday, but also all the other cultural heritage sites of Egypt. These sites are a non-renewable resource that need protection as soon as possible. We hope to have more positive news about Hibeh next week.

Coptic Cemetery, eastern end, El Hibeh

Coptic Cemetery, eastern end, El Hibeh

Friday update

From Dr Carol Redmount of the El Hibeh Excavation team:

Friday update, March 30, 2012.

Not a great deal to report this week. At Ihnasya we continue to study pottery and small finds from our previous excavations at Hibeh. Again we wish to thank the SCA for permission to undertake this work. We continue to work to raise the profile, nationally and internationally, of looting at Hibeh and elsewhere and again we thank you for all your support. Alas, Hibeh still has no security, and we must continue our efforts until the site is protected. Thank you all again, and I hope I will have more to tell you next Friday.

Before and after looting picture at El Hibeh

Before and after looting picture at El Hibeh. East town wall before (above) and after (below) looting.

Looted and scattered mummy

Looted and scattered mummy at El Hibeh

Coptic Cemetery at El Hibeh. Detail of looting at western end.

Coptic Cemetery at El Hibeh. Detail of looting at western end.

New tombs to open on Giza Plateau

In the Western Cemetery on the Giza Plateau are located six Old Kingdom tombs of nobles and top officials of the Fourth Dynasty, waiting for their official opening after restoration.

Although these tombs may be sparse in decoration, they are rich in architectural features. Discovered early in the last century, the tombs have impressive facades, more like temples, and large chambers with rock-hewn pillars.

The first one belongs to Princess Mersankh, the granddaughter of King Khufu. This tomb was originally built for her mother, Queen Hetepheres II, but on Mersankh’s sudden death the tomb was donated to her. The tomb was discovered in 1927 by archaeologist George Reisner where a black granite sarcophagus was found along with a set of Canopic jars, and a limestone statue depicting Queen Hetepheres II embracing her daughter. The sarcophagus is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo while the statue is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Tomb of Seshemnefer

View of the mastaba of Seshemnefer IV at Giza. Seshemnefer lived around the end of the 5th Dynasty, and held the title: Director of the Two Thrones in the Mansion of Life, Privy to the Secrets of the King in all his Cult Places. His importance can be attested by the size of his tomb and its location near the pyramid of Khufu. (Photo: Sandro Vannini)


The second tomb belongs to Seshem-Nefer, the overseer of the two seats of the House of Life and keeper of the king’s secrets. “It is one of the largest tombs on the Giza Plateau,” Ali El-Asfar, director general of archaeology on the plateau, told Ahram Online, adding that it contains funerary, hunting and offering scenes, as well as a depiction of the Seshem-Nefer’s daily life.

The third tomb belongs to Senefru-Kha-Ef, the king’s treasurer and priest of the god Apis. El-Asfar said that the tomb’s inner walls also reveal typical scenes of the dead official and his children.

The fourth tomb was constructed for Nefer, the overseer of the soul priests. Its walls are decorated with scenes showing the Nefer’s daily life with his family and dog.

The fifth tomb belongs to Yassen, the overseer of the king’s farms. The sixth tomb was for Ka-Em-Ankh, overseer of the royal treasury.

According to Mohamed Ibrahim, minister of state for antiquities, the walls of the tombs have been cleaned and reinforced, graffiti left by visitors removed and inscriptions and paintings conserved. The walls are now protected by wood, and lighting and ventilation systems have been installed. A path linking the tombs to the Great Pyramid of Khufu was established in order to facilitate visits.

These tombs were previously opened 25 years ago, said Ibrahim, adding that they were closed for restoration according to the rotation system introduced at the Giza Plateau in the 1990s, under which some of the noblemen’s tombs will be closed for restoration each year.

“Regretfully they were never opened again,” El-Asfar said.

As they open now, others will close for restoration and preservation.

Thanks to AlAhram http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/37069.aspx

Lots more information about these tombs can be found at http://www.gizapyramids.org/code/emuseum.asp?newpage=gizamastabas