The "Harwa 2001" ONLUS Cultural Association presents
 The Tomb of Harwa

Report of the 1997 Season



The First Pillared Hall was covered with a layer of variable height (from 30 to 80 cm) composed of limestone chips of different sizes. We divided the hall into four rows of virtual squares taking the main axis and the remains of the pillars as fixed points in order to establish a grid that will be used in the course of the excavations.

We began by clearing the subsidiary chambers attached to the northern and southern sides of the hall which would be used to store the decorated limestone fragments, the pottery and the bones we eventually found. We had cleared S1, S2 and N5 last year.

A large amount of pottery was found in the subsidiary room N2. The sherds belong to different periods of Egyptian history and lend credibility to the hypothesis that the room was used for discarded broken vases. In the SE corner of the chamber, a small pottery cup and a melted alabastron made of transparent glass were found on the floor. They could be the remains of a disturbed burial dating to the early centuries of our era and support the theory that the large amount of pottery covering them was placed in the chamber at a later date.

Many coarse ceramic ushabtis were found scattered inside and near the entrance of the chamber N3. Faïence beads from a mummy net were discovered in the SE corner of the same room. This evidence clearly shows that the subsidiary chamber was used for a burial between the end of the pharaonic period and the beginning of the Roman period. In the same room, five fragments of a limestone, false canopic jar with a baboon head (Hapy) were discovered on top of the debris covering the floor (Fig. 1). It may come from the irregular and unfinished opening in the middle of the northern wall.

Near the entrance of the subsidiary chamber S3, the furniture of a disturbed burial was discovered. It consisted of two small vessels, a cup (with remains of bread inside), and a rough, limestone scarab. The situation was similar in subsidiary chamber S4, where we found, the remains of what seems to be furniture of a double burial associated with three femoral bones. We also discovered two pale blue alabastra with tall necks (one partially melted), a small vase, two fragments of a very similar vase (they were found together) and an oil-lamp in the “arms and frog” style.

As for the First Pillared Hall, we were able to clear the all of the debris from the central part (Fig. 2).

Many limestone fragments came from the collapse of the ceiling. Some of them still bear traces of decoration consisting of red stripes against a blue background. The pieces discovered up to this point are not sufficient to reconstruct the design of the red stripes.

The decoration of the walls and the pillars was also painted in red and blue. In the southern part of the hall, we found many fragments of the scenes which decorated the entrance to the subsidiary rooms S2, S3 and S4. The scenes proved to be huge offering-tables (S2), a butchery scene (S3, Fig. 3) and a row of offering-bearers (S4). This last scene has a parallel in the one over the entrance to the opposite subsidiary room (N4). No remains of the scenes over the entrances to the subsidiary rooms N2 and N3 have been discovered.

Among the pillar fragments, we discovered some bearing god and female figures. These pieces belong to the scene at the top of the pillars which depicted a deity and a personification of the Hour (the female figure). Among the representations of deities, we found evidence of two ram-headed gods, the nocturnal form of the sun-god (one coming from the southern row and one coming from the northern row, Fig. 4), a falcon-headed god (with lunar disk) and another with the head of a jackal.

The discovery of some fragments with inscriptions mentioning the 7th, 9th (Fig. 5) and 12th hours of the Night, proves that the southern row of pillars bore that ritual. The progression of the text is west to east, or from the inner part to the exit of the tomb.

In the northern part of the First Pillared Hall, a large portion of the ceiling was collapsed, preserving the stratigraphy. Under huge slabs of limestone we discovered a layer of mixed human remains covered by plaster. The three mostly complete skeletons we were able to identify were lying without an apparent orientation and with no furniture at all. This suggests that the burial was connected with a period of pestilence.

Under this layer, we discovered traces of furniture from poor burials on the floor of the hall. The layer was very disturbed: chips of limestone were mixed with bones and traces of fire. A better situation existed in the NE corner of the square I.D2, where we found the remains of a skeleton facing south with the head pointing to the west. It was associated with four pottery vessels (one containing a date) and two glass alabastra (Fig. 6).

In the centre of the hall, at a height of 30-40 cm from the ground level, we discovered the central and upper parts (Fig. 7) of two serpentine shabtys of Harwa. A complete limestone shabty of Harwa was found close by (Fig. 8).

The limestone shabt was discovered in two pieces located a few centimetres from each other. The style of this shabty is identical to that of the royal shabty of the 25th Dynasty discovered in the necropolis of Nuri. However, it also resembles the funerary statuettes of Petamenophis, the owner of the TT 33, which is located not far from Harwa’s tomb. The fact that all the ushabtis found in Harwa’s tomb were discovered on the path towards the exit (except one coming from the subsidiary room S1) and at a certain height above the ground level, would support the hypothesis already proposed by J.J. Clère (BIFAO 34, 1934). According to him, the ushabtis of Harwa were not removed from his tomb before Coptic times. At the same time, two fragments reached Medamud where they were found in the sacred lake of the temple.

We also performed a rescue excavation of the debris hanging over the courtyard of the tomb. We removed a large amount of sand limestone chips from the south side to prevent its collapse into the courtyard. We terraced the part of the heap hanging over the court to reduce the danger of a collapse in the case of rainstorm. During this excavation we discovered the top of a mud-brick wall running in the same direction as the tomb courtyard.

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