Polish archaeologists have discovered a tomb of a vizier in the temple of Hatshepsut

Polish-Egyptian team of archaeologists have discovered in Egypt in the temple of Queen Hatshepsut an Egyptian tomb of a vizier from the 25th dynasty (8th — 7th century BCE) says the head of the Polish mission in Deir el Bahari, Dr. Zbigniew E. Szafrański. The tomb had earlier been plundered but some fragments of mummy remained as well as beautiful painted cartonnage.

From 1961 the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology mission, University of Warsaw, has been reconstructing the temple of Queen Hatshepsut of the 14th century BCE. Amongst other things they have found items belonging to the temple sanctuary of Amun-Re, the main courtyard and the portico with monumental images of Queen Hatshepsut in the form of the god Osiris.

Poles continue to reconstruct the 3rd, highest, terrace of the temple. Near the terrace were found even earlier tombs of the dignitaries from the 23rd and 25th dynasties.

Lately the Polish explorers happened upon a tomb shaft carved into the rock-face. At the end at a depth of 8 metres was found a burial chamber.

“The tomb had been plundered. We don’t know whether in antiquity or in more recent times, however we have found fragments of the mummy. On the basis of the inscriptions found in the tomb we suspect that buried there was the vizier Padiamonet who died in the 27th year of the rule of the pharaoh Piankhi (Pije) from the 25th dynasty” explains Szafrański.

Apart from the tomb of the vizier, the archaeologists also discovered three different plundered burial chambers. At the moment it is difficult to say who is buried there. [Forensic-]Anthropologists are to determine this next year based on analysis of the remains of the mummy.

In the tomb-chamber of the vizier, [were found] part of the deceased’s endowments — cartonnage (a type of cover in which the mummy is placed) as well as bandages in which the mummy was bound.

Cartonnage made of layers of clothes, glue, crushed lime, gypsum, and so-called gesso. The finished cover was painted.

“On the cartonnage beautiful, ornate, colourful pictures [in which] you can read in hieroglyphs the name of the vizier. It is also visible on the fragments of the bandages” says Dr. Szafrański.

Apart from the tomb within the rock-face, the investigators came across other more recent very unusual interesting finds. The remains of endowments of an early Christian church from the 6th — 8th century AD [including] wooden alter bulkheads(?).

Construction of the church was made in the ruins of the highest terrace of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. “Alongside the remains of the wooden equipment and furniture we found fragments of utensils and so-called ostraca on which the monks wrote letters, shopping lists, receipts and accounts, amongst themselves” added Dr. Szafrański.

The Polish mission in Deir el Bahari has reconstructed three unusual important elements of the highest terrace — the overhead [highest?] courtyard (the place where the most important festivities occurred), the Coronation Portico with statues of the queen, as well as the main sanctuary of the god Amun-Re, the most important place in the temple.

Polscy archeolodzy odkryli grób wezyra w świątyni Hatszepsut, Szymon Łucyk, PAP – Nauka w Polsce, Poland, February 22, 2006. Translated by Andrew Bak, March 06, 2006.