Belgians at Bersha. Recent fieldwork in the Old Kingdom necropolis and the intact tomb of Henu

Marleen De Meyer, Catholic University of Leuven

Since 2002 Leuven University (Belgium) has been conducting excavations at the site of Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt. This place was used as a necropolis by the inhabitants of the nearby provincial capital Hermopolis throughout most of ancient Egyptian history. Dayr al-Barsha is most famous for its Middle Kingdom monarchs’ tombs, including the well-preserved tomb of governor Djehutihotep, but the site also contains a large Old Kingdom rock necropolis. This lecture will focus on the different types of Old Kingdom burials that are encountered here, and in particular on a number of tombs that preserve a restoration inscription dating to the late First Intermediate Period. What this restoration consisted of, became clear when the intact burial of Henu was found, an administrator serving under a governor named Djehutinakht at the end of the First Intermediate Period. This burial contained not only the perfectly preserved coffin and mummy of the deceased, but also a number of wooden tomb models portraying scenes of daily life in Ancient Egypt.

Marleen De Meyer is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders and co-field director of the excavations of Leuven University at Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt. She investigates provincial administration in the 15th and 16th Upper Egyptian nomes based on a number of necropoleis dating from the late Old Kingdom to the First Intermediate Period. She is spending part of this postdoctoral fellowship as a visiting research scholar at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She received her PhD from Leuven University in Belgium in 2008, with a dissertation about the rock tombs of the late Old Kingdom at that site, where she has been excavating since 2002. Prior to her work at Dayr al-Barsha, she spent several seasons in Egypt between 1997 and 2001 copying reliefs in the Roman period temple of Shenhur, some 20 km north of Luxor. This resulted in the publication of the inscriptions of the interior of the temple that appeared in 2003. In 2010 a final field campaign to this temple was undertaken to finish the recording of the inscriptions, and the publication of the outer walls of this temple is underway.

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