New Season has started!
This year the excavation campaign will be held from 15 March to 27 April. The plans for fieldwork are as follows:
- To clear the area to the north of the tomb of Maya & Merit.
- To finalize the clearance of the area south of the Tomb of Meryneith.
- To continue the clearance between the anonymous chapel (Tomb X) and the tomb of Sethnakht further east, including the subterranean chambers of the new shaft found in 2015.
- To consolidate the superstructure of Tomb X, followed by backfilling (for optimal protection).
- To continue the study and photography of reliefs, pottery and bones found at previous seasons, including some blocks and objects currently in the Imhotep storerooms.
- Training of two young inspectors on the site.
Follow the weekly reports in our 2017 Mission Digging Diaries.
No fieldwork at Saqqara in 2016
The archaeological team of the National Museum of Antiquities (Leiden) and its partner the Museo Egizio (Turin, Italy) was forced to postpone their plans until next Spring. Due to the current unstable situation in Egypt the fieldwork season planned for February-March 2016 had to be cancelled.
The Leiden-Turin mission had big expectations for 2016. The presence of a "new" tomb within the concession area is likely, and the plan was to find it and start its excavation. Lara Weiss, field director for the Leiden Museum together with Maarten Raven, explains:
"For this season we set up an international team including many new team members with specific skills, e.g. a highly experienced surveyor. This was partly made possible through the support of the Friends of Saqqara Foundation. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until next year to start our team effort. As a rule, our expedition carries out excavations every year in the New Kingdom necropolis south of the Unas causeway. Our fieldwork permit needs to be renewed annually, but this year the Supreme Council of Antiquities did not grant us permission at the period we requested. The main reason is that Egypt is still dealing with political instability and the aftermath of the revolution started in 2011.
When the Egyptian authorities did not issue a permit for our requested field season, the RMO management team together with co-field director Christian Greco, Director of the Museo Egizio, had to decide that circumstances were not secure enough. The safety of our team must come first. We are determined to return to Saqqara in 2017 with our new joint team and to start exploring a new tomb!"
An announcement in Dutch about the cancellation of the 2016 fieldwork season at Saqqara was published earlier by the National Museum of Antiquities (Leiden) on their website: http://www.rmo.nl/onderzoek/opgravingen/sakkara-(egypte)
The Tomb of Meryneith at Saqqara
Raven, M.R., Van Walsem, R., Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities (PALMA), 10 (2014)
This funerary monument of a high Memphite official was discovered by a joint expedition of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities and Leiden University in 2001. Meryneith started his
career as steward of the Memphite temple of the sun god Aten during the reign of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten. During midlife, he may have joined the court set up by the Pharaoh at the new capital at Amarna. He ended his career under Tutankhamun as
high-priest of the Aten in the Memphite temple again. Thereby, the importance of the tomb of Meryneith lies in the fact that for the first time it allows us to witness various stages in the rise and fall of the Amarna heresy from a Memphite point of view.
Thus the tomb-owner was apparently forced to change his name from Meryneith - with its reference to the now proscribed goddess Neith - into Meryre. Several other variants of his name and some additional titles came to light, revealing various stages in
his career. These stages mirror the ideological developments of the Amarna Period and its immediate aftermath, which are further illustrated by the different styles of the decoration of the tomb. This proved to be remarkably well preserved and consists of
both wall-reliefs and paintings on mud plaster. Thanks to the evidence of the inscriptions, it can be observed how the tomb was built and decorated in various stages, each characterized by a marked change in style and iconography. The present report
includes a full description of these wall scenes, as well as chapters on the career of the tomb-owner, on the double statue of Meryneith and his wife found in one of the west chapels, and on the objects, pottery, and skeletal material found in the course
of the excavations.
Cover price: € 94.00.
To order a copy, click here.
Images of Saqqara - Thirty-Eight Years of (Anglo-)Dutch Excavations
On the occasion of the tenth annual Saqqara Day in Leiden on 2 June 2012 a booklet was published containing a visual history of the (Anglo)-Dutch excavations at Saqqara since 1975.
The publication presents dozens of carefully selected colour photographs of the excavations of sixteen of the tombs found, most of them never published before. Short texts provide information on the tombs and their owners. The booklet is written by Vincent Oeters and edited by Vincent Verschoor, both board members of the foundation.
Friends of the foundation received a copy on the Saqqara Day or by mail. If you are not a friend but you are interested in ordering a copy, you can send an email to: email@example.com.
Cover Price : € 12.50.
The Tomb of Iniuia in the New Kingdom necropolis of Memphis at Saqqara
Schneider, H.D., Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities (PALMA), 8 (2012)
Iniuia was a high official under King Tutankhamun. He started his career as scribe of the treasury of the Lord of the Two Lands in Memphis. Next he became overseer of the cattle of Amun and high steward of Memphis. His tomb, situated just south of the tomb of general Horemheb, was excavated in 1993 by the joint expedition of the Egypt Exploration Society and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. There are two chapels, one of which is decorated with painted scenes and the other with painted reliefs in a style which is reminiscent of the art of Amarna. The book contains chapters on the architecture of the tomb, the decoration of both chapels and other monuments of Iniuia now in museum collections, as well as on the objects, the pottery, and the skeletal remains found in the tomb.
Cover price: € 71.00.
To order a copy, click here.