Friday, September 17, 2010

Rediscovery of Tomb of Karakhamun

From Heritage Key
Ancient Egyptian tomb of Karakhamun at Assasif: a major tomb for a minor priest?
Submitted by Ann on Wed, 09/15/2010 - 10:28
Archaeologists have rediscovered the 'lost' tomb an ancient Egyptian priest at the Theban Necropolis in Egypt. It was announced today by Egypt's Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosny, that the team excavating and conservating the tomb has now cleared the burial shaft of tomb and reached its burial chamber.

Imperishable stars from a wall painting in Tomb of Karakhamun
The tomb is located at Qurnet Murai, south Assasif, on the west bank of the Nile opposite to Luxor, and belonged to a priest named Karakhamun. It dates to the 25th Dynasty (the Reign of Shabaqo, circa 700BC) and is referenced as TT223 (Theban Tomb 223). The el-Assasif area is a well known archaeological site, containing nobles’ tombs from the New Kingdom, as well as the 25-26th Dynasties.

Dr Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that the team discovered the burial chamber of Karakhamun at the bottom of an 8m deep burial shaft. He added it is in very good condition and contains beautifully painted scenes.
The entrance to the chamber is decorated with an image of Karakhamun and the ceiling is decorated with several astrological scenes, including a depiction of the sky goddess, Nut.

More information:

From Discovery News
Astrological Scene Found on Egyptian Tomb Ceiling
Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
Thu Sep 16, 2010 03:41 PM ET
"The chamber was found at the bottom of an eight meter deep burial shaft,” Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said.

The room is in very good condition and contains beautiful painted scenes in vivid colors. Blue and yellow dominate the ceiling, as the goddess Nut welcomes with raised arms the body of the deceased.

Named Karakhamun was a priest who lived during the 25th dynasty (755-656 B.C.). His tomb, known as TT223, was first discovered in the 19th century, but then it collapsed and disappeared under the desert sands.

It was rediscovered by an Egyptian-American expedition in 2006. In addition to the tomb of Karakhamun, the team is also working on two other neglected Nubian tombs nearby: the tomb of Karabasken, the Mayor of Thebes, and the tomb of Irtieru, the Chief Attendant to the Divine Consort of Amun, Nitocris.

Described by 19th-century travelers as some of the most beautiful Theban tombs, the burials were wrongly believed to have been completely destroyed. In fact, they were all rediscovered four years ago.

“Their painted ceiling, stunning relief, and elegant architecture are not obliterated, merely hidden beneath layers of soot, veiled by dust and cobwebs, and blocked by piles of debris,” team leader Elena Pischikova, director of the South Asasif Conservation Project (ACP), wrote on the project’s website.

According to Pischikova, Karakhamun’s tomb is possibly the largest in the necropolis. However, when the ACP team found the burial, it was barely visible and totally inaccessible. Almost hidden beneath the sand, the only trace of its location was a blackened crack in the bedrock.

“Some days of tedious digging soon yielded much more than we could have hoped for – a wall of carving, almost completely intact, with a life size figure of Karakhamun in front of an offering table,” Pischikova said.

Little is known of the priest, who remains the most enigmatic figure in the necropolis. Karakhamun did not appear to hold any important administrative position and his priestly title wasn’t particularly important.

Yet his tomb, featuring two pillared halls, paintings and exquisite relief carvings, was one of the most beautiful in the necropolis.

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