Excavations

Excavations

The archaeological exploration of the site started at the beginning of the 20th century. After a first season led by Gombert from the Institut Français d´Archéologie Orientale (IFAO) in 1902/03, a survey of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft (DOG) by W. Honroth followed in 1913. In only ten days of exploratory excavation, he found different types of tombs from the Roman period. Most important was the discovery of several tomb houses with painted decoration consisting of up to four floors. In 1919 the tomb of Petosiris was found, excavated, and reconstructed within two years.

From 1931 to 1952 Sami Gabra, professor at Cairo University, excavated at Tuna el-Gebel. In his first years he concentrated his investigations on the necropolis south of the tomb of Petosiris, while in the 1940s, he started to explore the underground galleries full of animal burials. Further excavations were carried out by Alexander Badawy from 1949. They focused on the temple of Thoth (?) with a saqiya in its second court and on the southeastern area of the necropolis, where he discovered among other things the now-destroyed ‘Graffiti Chapel’.

In the 1970s two German teams started to work at Tuna el-Gebel. While Dieter Kessler from Munich University explored the northern sector, concentrating on the underground galleries and their above ground structures, the team of Grimm, Krause, and Sabottka from Trier University surveyed the southern sector with the necropolis around the tomb of Petosiris. The results of this project remained unpublished. From 2005 to 2010 another German team from the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim, guided by Katja Lembke, has continued the work of Trier University. Thanks to the assistance of land surveyors and architects from Cottbus University and geophysicists from Kiel University, the team has been able to map the entire site, including the unexcavated areas and a detailed plan of the architectural development.

Since 2012 the cooperation between the University of Fine Arts Minya (Department of Conservation), the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HAWK) Hildesheim and the Lower Saxony State Museum Hanover under the direction of Dr. Katja Lembke (field director) and Dr. Silvia Prell (second field director) provide a “Field-School-Program for Archaeology, Conservation and Restoration of Arts and Cultural Heritage” in Tuna el-Gebel financed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (2012-2014) and the Volkswagen Foundation (2015-2018).

In 2017, under the direction of Dr. Katja Lembke the interdisciplinary project “Celebrating with the dead. Concepts of space and funeral rituals in the necropolis of Petosiris at Tuna el-Gebel” started with grants of the German Research Foundation (DFG). This project combines methods of archaeology, geophysics, and land-surveying.

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