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

Report of the 2002 Season


During the second part of the mission (December 14th, 2002 – January 13th, 2003) we continued to excavate the part of the tomb we believed to have been the burial place of Harwa.

During the 2001 season the debris was completely cleared from the rooms of the upper levels (Fig. 5,3-6)and the main shaft (YM.A1; Fig. 5,7) and the Eastern room at the bottom of it (YM.A2; Fig. 5,9), believed to be the funerary chamber of Harwa, partially excavated. In YM.A1 and YM.A2 we recovered more than two hundred fragments of shabtys in faïence and some dozen in stone, all belonging to Harwa. We also recovered some limestone blocks with painted decoration and traces of hieroglyphic inscription. At the end of the last season we supposed that they could come from the sarcophagus of Harwa.

This year we started working in the western part of the room YM.A2 where the upper part of a line of blocks had already been exposed during the removal of the debris. When we reached the floor level the line was shown to form an “L”-shaped wall (around 0,50 m high) closing the south-western corner of the room. It was mainly made using blocks coming from the wall built to block the entrance to the room, and should perhaps be considered as part of a later reuse of the room as a burial place (Fig. 6).

After the clearance of debris from room YM.A2, excavation of the smaller room (YM.A3; Fig. 5,8) opening at the bottom of the shaft in the south-western corner, was begun. The archaeological situation was very similar to that in room YM.A2. It was filled with debris to half a metre from the ceiling. During excavations we recovered sandstone blocks coming from the blocking of the room, many fragments in faïence and some in stone of the Harwa shabtys. At the end of this work another “L”-shaped wall was exposed against the south-western corner. It is smaller than that in YM.A2 and more difficult to interpret as a later burial place.

During excavations in these rooms we discovered more fragments of painted limestone that, last year we supposed had been part of the sarcophagus of Harwa. This hypothesis was not completely satisfactory, as it would have meant considering a completely unknown type of stone sarcophagus of similar shape to an Anubis shrine.

As further fragments of limestone were found in the two rooms, their reconstruction became easier, and we are now convinced that they originally came from a shrine (Fig. 7).

Once the two rooms had been cleared the excavations of the main shaft (YM.A1; Fig. 5,7) left unfinished last year because the bottom of debris layer was attained, were completed. A layer of soil, of 20-30 cm in depth, was removed, revealing a rock-cut step in the western half of the shaft; a layer of pure sand filled the eastern half. The rock-cut step was found covered in plaster. The removal of the layer of pure sand revealed a further step, with a rectangular space between that and the remains of the wall blocking the entrance to room YM.A2, where a jar and a piece of limestone with painted hieroglyphics had been intentionally placed. The second step was also covered by plaster. Traces of rectangular prints were recognised on the surface of the plaster. The jar was found to have been filled with plaster.

The interpretation of this situation raises the possibility that a stone floor (later removed) had covered the lower step. During the second phase a new stone floor was laid over the upper step (the westernmost), and the empty space between the lower step and the closing of room YM.A2 was filled with the jar and painted limestone block (which also shows traces of work in the lower face to make it fit with the thickness of the lower step), then covered with pure sand.

The limestone block bears an inscription with the name of Harwa and is part of the shrine whose fragments had already been found in the two rooms at the bottom of the shaft.

A preliminary interpretation is that the shrine was placed in room YM.A2 (from where mostly of the painted limestone fragments come) together with faïence and stone shabtys of Harwa. The deepest area of the tomb was later used as a burial place, presumably when the funerary monument of Harwa was already in decay. This can be inferred by the result of the 2001 excavations: the removal of the heap of debris blocking the entrance to the corridor YF.A1 (Fig. 5,3) led to the discovery of decorated stone fragments from the of the courtyard and pillars of the First Hall. The destruction of the shrine must have been contemporary with the later re-use of the area, the fragments having been employed to build the structure in room YM.A2 (the “L”-shaped wall against the south-western corner). It is possible also that the room YM.A3 was cut at that time.

For the time being it is impossible to ascertain for what purpose the shrine was placed in room YM.A2.

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