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Eighteenth-Dynasty courtier's bling found
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 12 - 03 - 2009

Five gold earrings and two rings dating from the early to mid-18th Dynasty have been unearthed in the rock-hewn tomb of Djehuty, the overseer of Treasure and Works during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. Nevine El-Aref reports
In the Dar Abul-Naga area on Luxor's west bank, a Spanish archaeological mission has made an important new discovery. During their routine excavation work at Djehuty's burial chamber, excavators uncovered what is believed to be a part of the deceased's jewellery collection.
Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that since the tomb was discovered in 2003 by the same mission, very little of Djehuty's funerary paraphernalia had been unearthed. Indeed, early investigations suggested that the deceased's coffin and mummy has been burnt shortly after his death, and his canopic jars had been smashed into tiny pieces.
Hawass said examination of the newly discovered rings and earrings revealed that they most probably belonged to Djehuty or one of his relatives. It is known that top officials began to wear earrings in the mid-18th Dynasty, shortly after the fashion was adopted by the Pharaohs of the day.
"Although Djehuty's name, as well as the names of his father Ibuty and his mother Dediu, were intentionally erased from all over the upper part of the funerary monument, his name and those of his parents are still intact," Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Jose Galan, head of the Spanish mission, said that early investigations also revealed that the tomb was robbed in antiquity and again in modern times, shortly after it was visited by archaeologists in 1898 and 1899.
While excavating the burial chamber, Galan said, the mission had located the entrance of a three-metre deep shaft and the entrance of another burial chamber with painted walls. The paintings featured chapters from The Book of the Dead, while the ceiling showed a colourful representation of the sky goddess Nut stretching her arms to embrace the deceased and his coffin.
"This is a very important discovery," Galan said, He explained that this painted burial chamber was important for two reasons: first for its beautiful scenes and second for the information it conveyed on the religious and funerary beliefs of the period -- about 1480 BC -- and on the social elite of Queen Hatshepsut's court.
He continued that the tombs of Senenmut, Nakhtmin, the vizier Useramun and his assistant Amenemhat were the only known decorated funerary chambers known from the reigns of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III.
"Djehuty is the fifth high official known to have decorated his burial chamber with funerary texts, a feature that places him among Hatshepsut's very top officials," Galan said. He added that it also identified him as an intellectual and one of the most creative scribes of Hatshepsut's reign.


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