The Tomb of Khuwy (Dr. Mohamed Megahed)

Discover the story of the pharaoh Djedkare, his family and courtiers, and take advantage of the rare opportunity to hear from visiting international Egyptologists Dr. Mohamed Megahed and Dr. Hana Vymazalová of Charles University, Prague. 

The most powerful queen in the Old Kingdom was buried next to the pharaoh Djedkare in the largest pyramid ever built for a king’s wife.  Near her lies the Crown Prince Isesiankh who did not live long enough to succeed his father on Egypt’s throne.

Taking you to their archaeological site at south Saqqara, Egypt, the two Egyptologists will introduce the Djedkare Project and share its most important results. They will share the stories of this ancient Dynasty 5 pharaoh, his queen and their courtiers by showing you the discoveries made by their mission; discoveries that have rewritten the history of Old Kingdom Egypt!

The discovery of the tomb of the courtier Khuwy by the Djedkare Project  was ranked by Archaeology Magazine as one of the 10 most significant archaeological discoveries of 2019. The tomb is stunningly beautiful and clearly indicates the high status of its owner. The artists who decorated this tomb were among the first to use an innovative approach to express the changing tendencies and interpretations of funerary beliefs.

This talk was in English and the session was facilitated by Heather Tunmore (Honorary Associate of the WA Museum).

Listen to Dr. Hana Vymazalová's talk here.

Meet the Speaker

Dr. Mohamed Megahed graduated in Egyptian Archaeology and Art History at universities in Minya and Cairo and acquired his PhD in Egyptology at the Charles University, Prague in 2016. He specializes above all on archaeology, architecture and decoration of the Old Kingdom pyramid complexes. He directs the project of the exploration, documentation and conservation of the pyramid complex of King Djedkare-Isesi at south Saqqara, and participates at the Czech mission in Abusir.

Audio file
Tuesday 8 August 2023
  • Episode transcript

    Heather Tunmore: 

    Right. Welcome back, everybody. I'd like to introduce you to Dr. Mohamed Megahed, from Charles University in Prague who's going to continue the story, which is so fascinating. Please welcome him.  


    Dr Mohamed Megahed: 

    Thank you, Heather. I think it's a very nice combination tonight because Hanna showed you how we find the things and the final results of what we found. And today, I think it's a very nice space for me to tell you how we found the things, the practical stories behind the tombs we found.  

    And a very good example is the tomb of Huy. I will be telling you things which we cannot write on papers, some books, articles, things we cannot say in scientific outcomes of our, of our work. But as many of you know, and Hana mentioned that most of the kings from the Old Kingdom built their pyramids and around it, beside it, tombs of the officials, people who worked with them, families who were connected to them, like in Giza, Khufu [unintelligible 01:43]. They are surrounded by tombs of their officials and families.  

    We have the same situation in Saqqara also where we work, like the tomb, the pyramid complex of King Unas. He’s the first king in the old kingdom to depict and inscribe his underground part of the pyramid with what we call Pyramid Texts. And also, the pyramid is surrounded by tombs. Again, in Saqqara, the complex of Teti, King Teti from the sixth Dynasty, also surrounded by tombs. So, we thought that also Djedkare, as Hannah mentioned, it also should be surrounded by tombs because just as a neighbouring, neighbouring pyramid complex, the complex of Pepi I. You can see that it's also surrounded by pyramids of his queens and his officials. 

    But for certain reasons, Dejedkare pyramid complex was never excavated or the people never looked for the tombs of those people who helped him during his, during his time. Only the pyramid of the queen, which was like visible. But you can see around that, all those depressions (holes), they are representing either large tombs, small tombs from his time, from the sixth dynasty, from later time - we don't know. And we saw that one day after we finish all the necessary work in the pyramid complex of Djedkare and his queen - finished the documentation, restoration. We will come one day to excavate this cemetery.  

    But things never goes as you plan. Because just in this, in this area in 2017, we always pass and go from this area, from the site to our dig house. And one day I thought there are two blocks are coming, emerging from the sand here. And they must be part of a tomb because as I mentioned, you can see the tombs, you can see the depressions of the tombs, the corridors, the rooms under, under the sand. So, one day I stopped. I thought we should document it. We are passing everyday. So, for the future, maybe one day we’ll come and excavate. I stopped. I put my scale, my north arrow. I took a photograph. This was, I think, October/November 2017, finished our season, went back to Prague, and a few weeks later my colleagues from Egypt told me there was illegal digging in the same spot that I photographed a few weeks ago. 

    At that time I thought, okay, maybe somebody from the village. We are working very close to the village. People can see us from the houses. Maybe somebody saw me photographing so thought it's important place; treasures, gold underneath. So why not to come and make the illegal digging at night? And luckily, because they don't understand how the tombs are built, they were excavating or doing the digging outside of the tomb. This is the casing of the tomb from outside, not inside the tomb. In fact, if they moved half a meter to the west, they will find the tomb. But they were stupid enough to excavate outside of the tomb. And it's not about the excavation or the illegal digging. They did that. Their activity also including shooting. This is what they collected in the morning. I mean, the authorities in Egypt at the time, bullets from the shooting.  

    So, they asked us to come and excavate the place. Usually when you excavate, you have a question to answer. So, you have a question, and you say, okay, I will start working here to answer this question. Or sometimes you are obliged to do your duty to the monuments because it's already known if you leave it unexcavated, they will keep coming, those people and they will excavate it. So, it's better to see what is, what is underneath in a scientific, scientific way. It took us about a year to arrange ourselves, dig permissions, fix our money, arrange the team who will be going to work with us because you cannot go there unprepared. You have to prepare yourself for the situation, financial situation and the team and everything. And after a few hours, because you have the position of the tomb, after a few hours, you can start our findings, the outline of the tomb very, very easily and very, very quickly.  

    We found out that the tomb is very simple in layout and in design. And it's built - almost the whole outside of the tomb and the rooms inside, they are built from white limestone, which is built, brought from Tura. And remember this information. Everything here is built of white limestone, not gray limestone, not the local limestone from, from Saqqara.  

    The mastaba, as I mentioned, it's quite simple, but it's large. You can see the plan here. This is the plan of the substructure and the superstructure of the tomb. And it's like it began with the entrance, entrance room here with some blocks which we found in situ. And again, it's not only about finding the things and not only about excavating, it's about preserving also. You cannot just find something like this, and you leave it as it is. You have to take care of it. And this is what we are doing. Every stone we found, which we will not be using in the future, we use it to rebuild the mastaba. Sometimes you have the original height, but for sure you have the outline of the, of the mastaba. And you, by this building, you protect what you found, what you found there.  

    More information you can have from the reliefs you found. You can also reconstruct the original decoration of this, of these tombs. And by putting together fragments and blocks we found in the site. And this is, for example, the decoration of the entrance, entrance room. And it shows the tomb owner here, Khuwy, and two times on a boat is are catching birds or fishing. And it's such a typical scene will be very famous in, later in, the end of the fifth dynasty and the six, sixth dynasty.  

    You go inside the tomb, and you found one of the most important spaces inside the, or in the substructure, the offering room. This is the offering room. And usually, they are built east-west. It's where the sun rise and set every day. And this is our, our offering room. And we found inside this altar. This piece. It's an altar. In the offering, in the offering, in the offering room. But when we found it, we thought this is something weird. It's also made of white limestone. But what is weird in this altar is these two signs. These two pieces.  

    Usually there are holes, only holes for tomb family or priests to come every day or every month to leave offering. But here we have the so-called shen sign. That shen sign is what we know already from the first dynasty, even before that. And what will become in the fourth dynasty, a cartouche. This is the cartouche where all the names of the kings will be written or are written, and they are used in the fourth dynasty. And to have a shen sign like this in non-royal tomb, it's another sign. So, this guy had access to motif, to royal motifs, which others didn't have. So, it's another sign that tells us about the importance of this of this guy.  

    In the tomb also, we have in this spot the so-called ‘serdab’. Every tomb, every rich tomb in ancient Egypt, especially in the Old Kingdom, had this room. It's a place where they keep the statues of the tomb owner. The figure and the name for the ancient Egyptians were very important. This is how their spirit will come in the afterlife and recognize the tomb owner or the guides. So, leaving a statue is very important and depicting the name everywhere is very important for them. But here we found only the inlaid eyes. So, this means the statues were not made of stones. The statues were made of something else. And I always say our work is something like a detective work. You have to collect the information from the crime scene. And you can imagine, you know, that those statues were kept there. They are either something, something like this. Because from the size of the, of the eyes, you can, you can reconstruct the size of the statue itself. And it's very important for us.  

    Back again to the offering room. You might notice by now that we found the altar not in its original position. We found it moved a little bit. And it's a sign for us because nothing was happening at the time for no reason. This we thought immediately that there was something underneath. Some stone robbers, ancient stone robbers, somehow moved this piece of stone for a reason, but they never took it. They left it on site. So, we thought, okay, we have to check this because you cannot leave such a thing behind you. Before you leave the site, you have to make sure that everything is secure and everything is, uh, is protected. So, what we did, we moved our mind because moving large stones like this, you don’t need to be a stronger guy. You don’t need to have muscles, you have to have brains. If you, if you use your muscles, you will injure yourself. And our guy here, his smile is strong, but he is always using his mind in lifting stones, moving stones. And he really knows how to cut, to cut the stones from three heads. So, he's really, he's really amazing. 

    So, lifting the altar like this and underneath we found a hole - three centimeter hole. And we try to get in, inside this hole but we didn't manage. Even our smallest member of the team, Hana could not manage to go inside. Whatever we could do is to put our hand with a torch and to photograph. And this what we found inside. A decorated chamber in the underground part of the tomb. It's special. It's something we'll know later, not during that time. And putting more your hand and the camera you can find things like this decorated burial chamber. Very famous in the sixth dynasty, not in the fifth dynasty. And was very famous, was very special since I will show, I will show later.  

    It took us almost a week trying to find the entrance to this burial chamber. We had knowledge. We are working in Saqqara since so, so many years. There is always offering room, false door and behind to the west, a shaft going to those kind of chambers. And we have a tomb even in the site, decorated burial chamber like this but it's from the sixth dynasty. Those are the famous decorated burial chambers from sixth dynasty, not fifth dynasty. And from our knowledge, we know that it's a shaft and it goes to, to the chamber. So, we were looking for a shaft at the time without any luck for a week, we almost removed all the core from the mastaba, but we didn't find any, any shaft. So, we thought we should go back again to the hole. 

    But what we could do, nobody could enter like this. We need a small, small guy. And we found him. One of our workers. We tied him with a rope. We sent him to the, to the, through the hole to the chamber with a torch, a wooden metre, two metres metre and the phone. And we told him, please photograph everything and measure. Take, take, take the metre and measure everything. We needed to know how big the space is, is underneath. And you can see what he did.  

    It's a decorated burial, burial chamber or antechamber. We note it's antechamber. Scenes that are not common, scenes that are not known to us from that, from that period. It's very special tomb. And the guy came out (in one piece!) telling us that he measured six times to the north, six times, times two, twelve meters to the north. I thought, no, the guy is mistaken because usually those tombs are about three meters long. But twelve meters is very, very weird. But he gave us very important information that it goes to the north. So now we know that we have to start working from the north. And this is what we did.  

    We found the entrance of the chamber from the north. This is outside of the tomb. This is the facade of the tomb. And it's also something special. Usually entrances of burial chambers are through a shaft or descending corridor, as Hana showed you from inside the tomb. But from outside like this, it's something unique and special. You only see it in pyramids. This is a design of the pyramid of Djedkare. The entrance is from the north face. Like all other pyramids. From the north face, the facade of the, of the pyramid through a descending corridor, vestibule, antechamber, burial chamber and a serdab. And it's exactly the same design like Khuwy. In Khuwy you have descending corridor, a small vestibule, antechamber, burial chamber and a storeroom to the south. Not a serdab to the, to the, to the east. So, it is the same, same concept of the of the underground part.  

    To do this, he had to take the permission of the king himself because a design of a pyramid is only kept for the king. And to use white limestone, he had to take the permission of the king because the king is the owner of all the resources of Egypt. To use the shin sign, which will become the cartouche, he had to use the permission of the king. So, we are dealing with a guy very close to the king, connected to the palace, royal palace and this is what we know from his titles. And one of the big mafia, it seems, of the old, old kingdom. 

    [audience laughter] 

    Anyway, we went inside the tomb. This is a corridor as we found it. This is from the top, going down the descending corridor of the mastaba. And this was the first look we had in the antechamber of Khuwy. I think until I was asked to, somebody asked me today or yesterday in the schools what you feel when you found something like this. I cannot say. You cannot express what you felt. I felt happiness. I felt responsibility because I know what should, we should do after that. You have to arrange everything. You know that at night you have to bring the guards to, to guard such a thing. I know that how many weeks or days we have to be inside this antechamber, excavating and collecting the information. So, it's a feeling, mixed feeling. You don't know if you are happy or if you are not happy. So, it's something strange.  

    But this was the first look of the antechamber. And this is the hole to the left here. This is a hole from inside, inside the tomb and from outside to inside. And you can imagine how high the debris, or the stone chips were, were inside. Some of them were small, some of them were big. And they were, those big ones, they were remains of the stone sarcophagus of Khuwy himself, which was completely smashed into pieces, uh, perhaps to steal or to break into, into the mummy.  

    And working inside the antechamber like this, it's perhaps one lifetime opportunity. You collect everything. You collect everything was left there. It's full of information. It's full of small finds, remains of finds. Wood and animal, animal bones. Plant remains. So, it's full of every piece of information. And we wanted to keep all of this information. But after you clean everything, you have a very nice, decorated antechamber. One of the most beautiful tombs, I have to say, in the Old Kingdom. And I can only compare it to Neferteri, for example, in the in the New Kingdom. And we were lucky to have something like this because perhaps if you go to Egypt, if you were in Egypt, you know that most of the Old Kingdom tombs must be decorated like this, must be colored like this. But we are lucky to find a kind like one tomb of its own kind like this. So, it's very, very special. Special thing, find for us.  

    The tomb is decorated from four walls. The antechamber from four walls is decorated. And this is what I mentioned in the beginning. It's a very special scene. It appeared only in this tomb and disappeared after that completely. It is a scene when the tomb owner depicted in his burial chamber. We have decorated burial chamber from the time of Djedkare, but none of them was the tomb owner inside the, inside antechamber or the underground part. This is why we believe that this, this tomb is one of its first depiction. So, this is the first decorated burial chamber in the Old Kingdom. And later, just after that, the ancient Egyptians will change their mind on depicting themselves inside, inside the tomb.  

    You can see the tomb owner sitting in front of the offering table with his titles above him. And his titles are connecting him to the royal palace. No big titles. He was not a vizier. He was not a high priest. He was in charge of the royal palace. He was very close to the king. We know in ancient Egypt during the time during the Old Kingdom about king's son, king’s daughter, uh, king's wife. But we never know about the brother of the king, brother of the queen, uncle of the queen. We don't know about those people. This guy might be one of them, but we don't know if he was or no.  

    Underneath, we have a very special scene also. It is the tomb owner himself sailing on the boat, going to the west, going to the afterlife. Most of the scenes like this in the Old Kingdom tombs are not depicting the tomb owner himself. Taking himself. He’s dead! But, he is sailing the boat to the afterlife by himself. It's another special, special scene in the tomb.  

    Something else very important was depicted on the east wall, which is the offering list. It's a beautiful, complete offering list. 49 items of what he wished to have in the afterlife. Bread, cake, sweets, beer, wine, pieces of meat, different pieces of meat, ducks, uh, goose, whatever he could have in the afterlife. Seems he was very scared to not have food with him in the after, in the afterlife. [audience laughter] And it's something we knew from his mummy that he was very well built. It seems he was eating with the, eating a lot! [audience laughter] And with scenes also of, of slaughtering scenes. So, he insists in his tomb to have food.  

    The other wall, the east wall, west wall. And yes, also offering scenes here or offering lists. They are depicted with the number. So, you have he needs one piece of meat, three pieces of beer. We're seeing things like this. The west wall also depicts a very special motif. It is a palace façade. We have here the double, double depiction of the palace facade. But you can see, you can enjoy the general view or the general beauty of, of the scenes here. But the ancient Egyptian artist who was working in this tomb didn't also care about the general view. He cared about the details more than other others things And it's shown in the front different places. Here when they are cutting pieces of the, of the animal, how he depicted the blood with red color or when they are sharpening the knife, things falling from sharpening of the knife. And the details were very, very unique. We never see such a thing in all the kingdom, Old Kingdom tombs, but also more, more details.  

    They were humans like us. Ancient Egyptians could make mistakes. We could forget doing things. We see, we see him now as perfect people. They were not perfect. They were like us. And like this one, for example, where they forgot to paint, to paint the guy, the sailor. This is our invisible sailor. He was forgotten, but we have him now. The best detail for me, for myself is this one. It shows how those people were humans like us. This is a fingerprint of the artist who was working inside the tomb. Perhaps the colors were still wet, and he leaned on the wall was his palm here, and he left for us his fingerprint. I think we should really bring a detective to tell us if it’s right hand or left hand, because I'm sure you can know such a thing. 

    Because of all of these things and as I mentioned to you in the beginning, we are a teamwork. We don't work without, like by ourselves and because of the beauty of this tomb, we had to include in our team one of the best scholars of doing art history of the Old and New Kingdom, Gabi Pieke from Mannheim, from Germany, and now she's working on the artistic style of the tomb. For example, she found out that the tomb was done by two artists, a master artist, and somebody was helping him, and she found out the sequence from which walls they were working. Because sometimes there are some scenes are very well done in one wall, and as you go, it starts to be ‘nasi nasi’, half and half, as we say, as we say in Arabic. 


    This was the antechamber. The burial chamber was not decorated at all. It's just behind it. It is still underground the tomb. It was completely empty. Nothing was decorated there. We, it was full of stones also, and rubbles. But we had only a small piece of the stone sarcophagus. White limestone sarcophagus. What you see here, everything from, built from white limestone. Sarcophagus. The whole tomb is built from this. From this limestone. But on the wall also, you can still see the outline of the sarcophagus. You can see the outline of the bottom part of the sarcophagus. If you focus more, you can see that the lid was open like this, waiting for the wooden coffin to come and to be put. And usually, it will look like this. This is a sarcophagus or stone sarcophagus from another tomb. So usually, the sarcophagus would look complete like this. But in our case, we had only the outline of the sarcophagus on the walls and on the also on the floor.  

    From the tomb, as I mentioned to you or from the debris, we collected so many information: collected animal bones, different types of linen, very fine linen, very nice linen. It tells us that they were really very good in manufacturing this, this type of linen. Plant remains - tells us about what they were eating. The offering he kept there, and also miniature models of, of plates made of alabaster. Usually, people are from the royal family, they have their miniatures, the models made of alabaster, not from stone. Another hint telling us that this guy is from the royal, royal family. 

    Most important find for us was the canopic jars. A very large canopic jars made of white limestone. In the Old Kingdom usually they are small and filled with mud. They were not used. But in our case here you can see that the lid, having some remains of, of linen and resins. And you can see here on the right that perhaps there was some packages before they poured the black resins here. And this tells us that he was mummified. So, the tomb owner Khuwy was mummified. Together with this we found his human remains or remains of his human body, mummified. And very nicely mummified. It's something we know. This style or style of mummification we will know in the New Kingdom. 1000 years later. Not during the Old Kingdom. We know now for sure that this style was existing in the Old Kingdom, but we didn't find, find it yet. This is our first find of nice mummification during the Old, Old Kingdom. I had to argue a lot was our specialist of mummification, Salima Ikram. Salima told me, no, no, no. This isn’t old. This is a New Kingdom mummy. I told them, no, Salima, this is an Old Kingdom mummy. We have the canopic jars, we have the only human remains. We don't have any more human remains inside the burial chamber. It must be Old Kingdom. No, it's a New Kingdom. I told them, there’s only reason we do carbon 14 analysis to date the mummy.  

    We took samples from the linen, the linen of the mummy. And it came out that it's an Old Kingdom mummy. And the mummification of Khuwy was fantastic. Even they had to reform his body. They put packages of linen and they reshape the body. So, it's something we know in the New Kingdom, not in the Old Kingdom. But now we have it. We know now that these techniques were existing in the Old Kingdom and this is one of the first proof, proofs of it. 

    During your work in Egypt, you have good moments and bad moments. You'll have surprises and sometimes they come good, sometimes they come bad. We were closing the season almost finishing in 2019 and one week before closing the season, the Minister of the Antiquities at the time called and he said because of the importance of the decoration of the tomb, he will make a press release in the press conference in the desert. They built a tent in the desert, and they invite every foreign ambassador in Egypt. Hundreds of people were inside, were in Saqqara or in front of the tomb. For us, it's nice publicity. It's for free publicity. But we were so scared about the tomb itself. It's so small. Everybody will enter the tomb, they will touch, they will breathe, humidity. So, you could not reject such, uh, like a request from the big, big guy. So, you can imagine the numbers of the people at that day. It's in one day, a few hours. How many people entered enter the tomb and they were taking photos, and they were everywhere inside the tomb. As we were scared of this situation but on the other hand, it put us on every newspaper in the world. It was everywhere - in every magazine and newspaper; in Asia, in Europe, in Egypt, in Africa, some maybe here also. And because of this, we were on the cover of the most prestigious magazine in archeology, Archeology magazine. And it was one of the top ten discoveries in 2019. 

    It's something bad and something good comes to you. And the bad things will never, will never stop. Since 2019, Egypt is facing climate change like everywhere. It's something we have to admit. And this is the desert of Egypt in 2019. This is in Saqqara, raining, nonstop, raining for three days in October and November 2019. And it comes every year now. 2020, just before COVID, we had a huge, huge rain, heavy, very heavy rain. And this is how we were going every day even. We're working at the time. We're going from the dig house to, to the site. This is just to give you like an idea how, how things can go bad when you found something beautiful like, like Khuwy. 

    Most of the tombs were built in like, in deep in Saqqara were flooded like, this is the tomb of the two brothers in Saqqara. Or the site museum also. It's built a little bit like not in low level. It was also flooded. And also, our tomb was flooded and it was partly, partly damaged. We could protect what we can, and we thought everything's fine, but only the results came in 2022, where after two years of the rain or three years of the rain, it resulted in flaking underneath, underneath or in the antechamber. 

    Things were coming out like this, and the situation was not, not nice. It took two years for the for the salt and for the damage to appear inside, inside the tomb. But we could not stop. Our conservators coming every year, maybe twice a year even. And the tomb now was completely safe. Everything back its to its original and it's nonstop work. 

    I'm just showing you this because this is our responsibility. You cannot find something nice, and you just take the photo, and you are on the cover of the magazines and you leave it and you go home and you are just happy or no, but you have to take care of it. It's our responsibility to this, to these guys. 

    The tomb is very unique now, and we know that it has similarities. What Hana showed you the tomb of Isesi-ankh actually. We found Khuwy before Isesi-ankh. And as you can see, that both tombs has the same design of the underground. Descending corridor, and the vestibule, antechamber, burial chamber and serdab. It's something, I think, these two guys had to take the permission of King Djedkare himself to build these tombs in this design, to use white limestone in very large extent. So, they were at least Khuwy, we know that Isesi-ankh was the son of the king, but Khuwy himself had to be really connected to, to the king and to the royal, royal palace. I hope I showed you most of what we do. Took you through some memories and our, our work in Egypt. And thank you. 


    Heather Tunmore: 

    Thank you, Mohamed. That was wonderful. I bet there's a few questions.  

    Audience member 1: 

    I have two, if that's okay. Um, the sarcophagus or the, the mummy that you found, what actually happens with that? Do you find a place to bury that or because it has to be treated quite sensitively?  

    Dr Mohamed Megahed: 

    It's treated very well. We have to keep all the finds we have because we are studying things. It's in our storeroom now. We made a kind of coffin for it, and it's kept inside the storeroom. We made x-ray for the, for the mummy. We know now the age of the guy who was around 40 years old. Very well-built. And the mummy is inside, inside the, inside the storeroom. After we do all the studies, analysis and everything, my idea, together with other finds, we have other human remains we have, I will take them and put them in one of the unused tombs we have. Just to show them some respect and to bury them again.  

    Audience member 1: 

    Obviously, you would. I didn’t think any different. And the tombs that you found, are they going to be, is that going to be a museum now for lots of people to visit. 


    When they are found intact. They are in its original place. I will feel bad and they will feel bad dismantling those original tombs.  

    Audience member 1: 

    Obviously that was going to be the case. 


    If you found something free, it's not in its original, in situ. You can take it to a museum. Statue for example. 

    Audience member 1: 

    No, I mean now that you found it will tourists be able to go and visit it.  


    They can visit it on the site They can come to Saqqara, apply for a special visit and they can enter the tomb but it will never be moved to a museum. 

    Audience member 1: 

    I mean, obviously not, thank you.  


    You’re welcome. 

    Audience member 2: 

    Thank you very much. You mentioned that the deceased had pictures of himself on the boats and you said that was not common. So, what's the what's the religious, um, what does that mean? What’s the significance of it when you don't have the person physically present, but depicted. But in this case, he was, do you understand? 


    Usually, they are depicted in, or they are shown in the sarcophagus. The sarcophagus is on the boat and priests are taking the sarcophagus to the tomb. But in this case, he's depicting sailing himself. So, I believe that because this tomb, it's one of its kind, it's the scenes appeared in this tomb and never appeared again in other tombs, something went wrong, something, it was depicted and then the priest said these things cannot be in the underground part of the tomb. It should be moved to the upper part of the tomb. Because the tomb owner in the upper part of the tomb has the big thing doing everything hunting, fishing, on a boat, receiving, offering, receiving other things. So, he's depicted being active in the tomb, but not active in the underground part like this. So, what we found, we'll find the tomb owner being active, which usually it be in the upper part. 

    Audience member 2: 

    So does that mean that you're thinking that it's that practice of depicting underneath was stopped at this point on? 



    Audience member 2: 

    Or perhaps it was a tradition going back in time? 


    It was stopped because those kind, or especially this type of tomb and other tombs just appeared during Djedkare reign, only during Djedkare reign and disappeared after Djedkare completely. And this is one information, the other most important information, the appearance of the pyramid text. We usually showed that the change in ancient Egypt is coming from the king to the lower part. But it seems no, it seems those people encouraged owners to inscribe his underground part with the pyramid text. So now we have to change our thinking about both from which parts of the society the changes are coming. 

    Audience member 2: 

    Thank you very much.  

    Audience member 3: 

    Thank you for a really fascinating presentation. I wanted to ask about the state of the mummy. I've been following the developments in our knowledge of the history and development of mummification that have happened over the past few years. And we've recently discovered, for example, that from Jana Jones work that mummification experiments began even in the late prehistoric period much earlier than we thought for. 

    So, it's kind of not surprising that in fact they may have been more sophisticated with mummification techniques by this early period in Egyptian dynastic history than we previously thought. This might be more of a question for Salima Ikram, I apologize. I don't know. I know    Salima, I wish I could ask her directly if I ever see her again. But what I was wondering was we tend to see from the literature, at least in the past, that the best mummification, the most sophisticated, was during the New Kingdom. Do you think that perhaps mummification began to peak or to become quite sophisticated at this early period? Much earlier. And that it's simply the lack of evidence or destruction of so many earlier mummies that has led us to believe that, oh, it must have been a better process later on? And that in truth, it was getting very good much earlier in Egyptian history, as we see from the example of Khuwy. 


    Yeah, you’ve answered the question, it's a lack of information. Always our knowledge is depending on the amount of information we have. Everybody knows Tutankhamun because the tomb was found intact, but perhaps others were not knowing very well other kings or individuals, even because the information about them is very few. Our information about mummification in the Old Kingdom is very limited because we don't have examples. We don't have finds from the Old Kingdom. Now we have from Khuwy. We have other few examples, maybe not well known from King Ra, King Neferefre from Saqqara, from Abusir, from the fifth dynasty. His hand was mummified. This is the only remains we found from him. We have also some information recently or information from other individuals being mummified in the Old Kingdom. Not in the same style like Khuwy. Khuwy was really interesting was very, very like good mummification. But others were also mummified. So, it is a lack of information. We have to find more. More information to really complete a picture. 

    Audience member 4: 

    Hi, thank you. This was a really cool presentation. I have a question when you are restoring or preserving the wall, the walls of the tomb, like when it's open air, in open sky, when you are restoring it, do you purposely recreate what you know of how they would have built the walls in the first place? Or do you use modern techniques like modern compounds or like, you know, pavement or whatever you may use in your toolkit to restore the walls back to their original glory?  


    We actually are following the outline in most cases, we have the outline of the rooms and the corridors and we are building above them. We are not trying to build as they were building because it would be very difficult. They used very large stones, and we use small stones. And it's very important also because in 200 years it will be recognized what is very old and what is new. It's a very good example you have here in this exhibition, a very nice scene of Horemheb, King Horemheb from his tomb in Saqqara. It's kept in Leiden in Holland, but they made a replica of this scene and they put it inside the tomb. This was done, I don't know, 20 years ago. And now it's being very old. You go to the tomb and as a tourist you cannot recognize if it's ancient or no. But they have a board, they have a sign. They're saying it's a replica. So, we tend to make, to make a difference between the old and the modern. 


    Audience member 5: 

    That was a fascinating presentation. Thank you very much for that. I was just wondering, there was four canopic jars that was in the actual pictures. Did they, did you find any like DNA information or anything of value inside them after so long?  


    Well, we didn't find anything inside them. We found only on the lid some remains of, uh, of the linen. We found inside them the black color, which you saw it is the resins, which is used during the mummification. To have, to make DNA on the mummy, you have to have other mummies to relate, to, relate to. And one of the things which we would like to do in the future is to make a DNA of the members of the fifth dynasty, because we have the mummy of Djedkare himself. It's kept in, uh, Faculty of Medicine in Cairo University. We have Khuwy, we have Ra Neferefre from the fifth dynasty. We have the daughter of Nyuserre from the fifth dynasty. So, if we can make a DNA project on those mummies, if they are related to each other or no, it would be very good.  

    Audience member 5: 

    Okay. Thank you.  


    You're welcome. 


    Any others down the back?  

    Audience member 6: 

    You mentioned the effects of the flooding that was happening. I'm just wondering because obviously climate change isn't going anywhere, unfortunately. Are there any systemic efforts underway to protect Egypt's antiquities and in that area and other areas from ongoing problems in that regard, like flood barriers or things like that?  


    Well, I can talk for myself on our side since we know that heavy rain every year, we are doing everything on the site to protect. So, most of the roofs we built, we built with sloping to collect the water somewhere. And we are closing in front of the magazine or the tombs with a little bit high in the future. I think this coming September or October, we will extend a little bit in front of the main entrance of Khuwy to the underground and make a shelter somehow to prevent the water going down. So, we are taking some, some steps and protecting things like this. Doing things like this, and others for sure are doing the same. 


    Thank you. Thank you, Mohamed.  


    Thank you.  


    And Hana, thank you very much.  


    That was is absolutely wonderful because you understand so much more about the problems, the joys, the frustrations, the issues, everything that goes into working on these sites and not just the beautiful end product. Thank you so much.  

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