Archaeological Season 2000-2001
In accordance with the approved
plan the archaeological season of the archaeological mission of the Czech
Institute of Egyptology/Czech National Centre for Egyptology, Charles University
(Prague) was carried out in Abusir. The season lasted from October 3, 2000, to
April 12, 2001.
Excavation in the tomb of Inti -
The long-standing project of the Czech Institute of Egyptology for the
exploration of the site Abusir South continued during the 2000-2001 season by
excavating the 6th Dynasty tomb of the official named Inti. The tomb
is situated to the south of another 6th Dynasty tomb of Qar,
excavated by our mission in 1995.
The excavation has brought to
light a superstructure measuring 20 (N-S) by 12 (E-W) metres and reaching a
maximum height of 2.5-3 metres. The tomb, aligned in a north-south direction, is
built of mudbricks and limestone blocks and slabs.
So far its entrance (situated in the northern wall), a small open court,
a tomb chapel, a vaulted serdab and a large open court were excavated.
Both sides of the entrance
were decorated with scenes representing the tomb owner and his two sons in
painted sunk relief. The narrow entrance leads into a small court and a chapel.
The larger part of the low polychrome relief decoration of the chapel walls has
survived, including its western wall in the form of a well preserved false door.
This is where one finds two nearly life-size figures of the tomb owner sitting
at the offering table, and observing the offering bearers, harpers and singers.
Accompanying inscriptions include his name Inti and his titles that were as
“The Judge, Keeper of Nekhen, Supervisor of prophets of the Pyramid of Teti,
Tenant of the Pyramid of Teti, Judge of the Six Great Courts, Secretary of the
Judgment in the Six Great Courts.”
There are five vertical shafts
in the south-eastern part of the tomb. So far only one of them, i.e. the
northernmost one, was fully excavated. This main shaft (measuring about 3 by 3
metres), some 22 metres deep, was that of Inti. A room off the west side of its
bottom contained a large limestone sarcophagus incised with the names and titles
of Inti. The funerary chamber was robbed, probably soon after the burial took
place, but the dismembered skeletal remains of Inti were recovered as well as
funerary material (pottery, alabaster bowls, copper tools). A limestone stela in
the form of a false door and again bearing the names and titles of Inti is set
in the floor, just to the east of the sarcophagus.
The façade, small court and
chapel were reconstructed in close cooperation with the Saqqara Inspectorate of
Antiquities represented by its director Mr. Adel Hussein and his committee. All
the above-mentioned rooms as well as the main shaft with the burial chamber were
covered with a reinforced concrete roof, closed and sealed.
In the area of Inti’s tomb,
there were found painted limestone blocks with reliefs (e.g. deceased fishing)
and statues of “Supervisor of prophets of the meret-temple of Pepi” called
Meryherishef as well as a limestone seated statue of “scribe of the king”
called Nefer. Before the conclusion of the work, the statue of Nefer has been
moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
2. Reconstruction works in the tomb of Qar
– Abusir South.
the epigraphic survey of the loose blocks originating from the tomb chapel of
Qar was finished in the previous season, work in the tomb of vizier Qar
concentrated on putting them back to their original positions in the eastern and
northern chapel walls. All the reconstructions were again carried out in close
cooperation with the representatives and restorers of the Saqqara Inspectorate.
The works in the tomb of Qar
(including limited excavations in a small north-eastern shaft) were finished by
the 16.12.2000 when the mastaba was officially closed and sealed by a committee
of the Saqqara Inspectorate.
3. Excavations and reconstruction works in
the tomb of Iufaa and around it.
this archeological season, the attention concentrated mainly on the area around
the wall that encircles the main shaft in the tomb of Iufaa, i.e. on the outer
parts of his tomb.
To the east of Iufaa’s main
shaft, at a distance of only few metres, a complex of rooms was unearthed
intended perhaps for the mortuary cult of Iufaa. The complex consists of sixteen
rooms altogether that were dug directly in the tafl bedrock. The walls of the
rooms were originally plastered with a thick layer of Nile mud mixed with
chopped straw. On many places, large pieces of this plaster were still preserved. All rooms seem to have been covered with mudbrick
perhaps for a wide and open courtyard and the staircase. Of the vaults, only
small traces were left. In about the center of the whole complex, thus
approximately in the axis of Iufaa’s tomb, a room was situated with a wide
niche in its southern wall to which four steps gave access. In another of the
rooms, three niches were found, originally laid with limestone slabs. The only
access to the whole complex was represented by a narrow and irregular staircase
leading from the south and situated only a few metres to the east of the south-eastern corner of the enclosure surrounding the main shaft of
The rooms were for the most
part filled with crushed tafl mixed with sand and remains mudbrick coming from
the destroyed vaults. Remarkably few finds came to light from here, among theme
several fragments of inscribed limestone blocks including two large pieces of a
round-topped stela that might had stood in the wall encircling the main shaft of
Iufaa. In addition to that, several fragments of papyri inscribed in early
Demotic and pottery were found. Although no indisputable proof of a mortuary
cult was unearthed there, it seems very probably that exactly this has been the
purpose of the whole complex.
Between this complex of rooms
and the enclosure of Iufaa’s main shaft, a sloping passage was excavated that
starts in about the center of the eastern façade of the above-mentioned
enclosure wall. At the southern end of this passage, about four metres deep and
situated behind a thick mudbrick wall, an opening gave access to a subterranean
corridor dug in the tafl bedrock. This corridor, about 2.3 metres high and only
90 cm wide, goes in the south-western direction for some 25 metres, descending
to the depth of about ten metres. In its southern wall, two large niches (more
resembling separate burial chambers) are situated, one of them finely lined with
white limestone slabs. Inside both the niches, only several pieces of pottery
were found, including a number of big pottery storage jars. After about 18
metres behind the entrance, a branch goes off the main corridor, descending
sharply and ending at the foot of the western lateral shaft of Iufaa.
At the very end of the main
corridor, originally walled up with mudbrick, two wooden coffins were unearthed.
The first among them, situated nearer to the entrance and thus later, was found
almost completely rotten. Inside, a skeleton of an elderly man was found. The
other coffin, in fact a double one, contained a mummy of a lady covered with
tiny remnants of a badly damaged net of small faience beads. According to the
texts on the coffin, it belonged to a lady Imakh-kher-(t)-resent, born to a lady
Ankhtisi. According to the preliminary anthropological examination, both
deceased show a number of features similar to the skeleton of Iufaa and might
thus have been related to him. Beside both the coffins, two small niches were
always dug in the walls of the corridor. In each of those niches, two inscribed
canopic jars of limestone were situated. On the coffin of the lady and around
it, moreover, 405 small faience shabti figures were found. Of the whole number,
however, only four were inscribed, two of them bearing the name Nekau. A third
set of limestone canopic jars, in this case uninscribed and certainly never
used, was found in sand just behind the entrance to the corridor.
Almost directly adjoining the
eastern side of the structure situated in front of the eastern façade of
Iufaa’s main shaft, another shaft tomb was unearthed. It consists of a small
burial chamber built of limestone ashlars at the foot of a shaft measuring 4.8
by 3.2 metres and 12 metres deep and of a small lateral shaft giving access to
it. The burial chamber, inside only 2.4 m long, 0.9 m wide and 1.25 m high, is
decorated with the usual religious texts cut in sunk relief. According to the
inscriptions and to faience shabtis found scattered in the burial chamber and in
the main shaft, the tomb belonged to a certain Padihot that held only the title
“Royal acquaintance”. Although the tomb has been robbed, the relief
decoration of the burial chamber is rather well preserved. In the corridor
connecting the small shaft with the burial chamber, an interesting Arabic
inscription written in Kufic script was found scratched directly in the tafl
Inside the burial chamber of
Iufaa, the consolidation and restoration of the relief decoration continued. In
addition to that, removing of the plaster surrounding the chest of the inner
sarcophagus was started as a first step for its planned lifting from the cavity
inside the outer sarcophagus. After removing some of the plaster, parts of the
decoration on the outer side of the chest of the inner sarcophagus became
At the end of the work, as
usually, all the necessary measures were taken to safeguard the monuments that
had been excavated or studied this year. New solid iron doors have been
installed to the entrance to the burial chamber in the tomb of Padihor, to the
entrance to a sloping corridor near to the south-eastern corner of Iufaa’s
main shaft, and to the southern side of the western lateral shaft of Iufaa where
a branch of the above-mentioned sloping corridor ends. All those doors, as well
as the two iron doors giving access to the burial chamber of Iufaa, were
officially sealed and locked by a special committee of the Inspectorate of
Antiquities at Saqqara. Following that, all the doors were walled up with bricks. The shafts were filled with sand again and covered from above with
reinforced concrete slabs walled up into frames made also of reinforced concrete. Also the complex of rooms dug in front of the eastern
Iufaa’s main shaft has been covered with sand again, before the planned
reconstruction of its mudbrick vaults would start.
Pyramid Lepsius No. 24.
accordance with the programm of our archaeological team works in Abusir,
approved by the Permanent Comitee of the SCA the consolidation of the badly
ruined small pyramid Lepsius No. 24 were carried out this season. The remnants
of this pyramid, which belonged to a consort of either Neferefra or Nyuserra,
was unearthed in the previous seasons in the 1990s. Stripped off the casing of
the tomb robers in the antiquity from the small pyramid only the remains of the
core’s masonry survived.
This season, the crumbling masonry of the ruin of the pyramid’s core were
largely consolidated inside. The lower portion of the descending corridor and a
small burial chamber inside the pyramid were covered with a ceiling. The side
walls of the burial pit for the funerary apartment were strengthened by means of
supporting stone walls preventing the remnants of the pyramid’s core from
Next season, the small remnants of the extant pyramid’s casing will be
Lepsius No. 25.
the season of 2000-2001, a trial digging was carried out in the ruins of another
small pyramid in Abusir, Lepsius No. 25. The latter monument, in which the a
consort of Nyuserra might have been burried, is adjoined from the south to the
small pyramid Lepsius No. 24.
The trial digging was carried out in the middle of the extant ruins of pyramid
Lepsius No. 25 and around the northeast corner of the pyramid. As the Pyramid
Lepsius No. 24, also the Pyramid Lepsius No. 25 was largely devastated by stone
robbers in the antiquity, perhaps mostly in the Late Period. In the debris
covering the monument, the remnants completely disintegrated poor burials dating
from Late Period to Greco-Roman Period. It seems that the afforsaid were
destroyed modern stone robbers who might have quarried the stone in the
pyramid’s remnants up to the Eigthteenth and Nineteenth Century, judging by
few finds of the pottery.
In the easter portion of the remnants of the pyramid’s core, a fragment of a
wall was revealed in position. The wall might have originally belonged to a
magazine. If so, the magazine would have been on a higher level than the burial
chamber which has not yet been excavated and the remnants of which can be
expected at the bottom of the crater at the pyramid.
The work in badly ruined small Pyramid Lepsius No. 25 is planned to be continued
in the next season.
The transfer of the statue of Nefer to the Egyptian Museum.
the season 2000-2001 (in October 2000) a small seated limestone statue of Nefer
was discovered in the Tomb of Inti in South Abusir. Because of security reasons,
after its discovery the statue was kept in the Inspectorate of Antiquities in
Saqqara. In March 2001, by the end of this season, the statue was transferred to
the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.