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August 2001 - Nr. 8


The Editor
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Fred Wagner
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Goethe Papers
Royal Tomb

German Egyptologists Locate Long-Lost Royal Tomb


TWIG - German archaeologists excavating the Egyptian necropolis of Thebes announced a spectacular find this week. Exploring the ruins of Dra Abu el Naga at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings, the team has discovered a royal tomb of the 17th Dynasty (1625-1539 BC). Comparatively little is known about this period in Egyptian history, and the newly discovered tomb is the first of the era to come to light. The tomb, now all but destroyed, was once composed of a pyramid of clay bricks, two obelisks, and a crypt containing the remains of the ruler Nub-Cheper-Re Intef VII.

Researchers from the German Archaeological Institute tracked down the tomb by following clues gleaned from a 3,000-year-old document known as the Grave Robber Papyrus. This inventory of attempts to steal from the royal tombs, compiled during the reign of Ramses IX, reports thieves tried to reach the tomb of Nub-Cheper-Re by boring a tunnel from the neighbouring tomb of Shuroy, but did not succeed.

The 40-foot-tall pyramid of Nub-Cheper-Re once sheltered a life-sized sandstone statue of the pharaoh, but only the head of the statue has been discovered so far. Archaeologist Daniel Polz, the leader of the dig, says the actual burial chamber probably lies deeper underground. Polz’s crew has already found a shaft leading to another chamber, from which another shaft leads even farther down. Polz says the grave may lie at the end of the second shaft, which he plans to excavate this fall.

But no one expects to find the remains of Nub-Cheper-Re, a New Empire founder known for his administrative reforms. His golden coffin was stolen by locals in 1827 and now belongs to the British Museum in London. "We suspect the mummy deteriorated when the coffin was opened," says Polz. The search for the burial chamber will be based partly on the thieves’ own account, according to which the coffin was found in an enormous stone trough.

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