Report on the Archaeological Work of the Australian Expedition To the North of Tetiís Pyramid at Saqqara


January/Februrary 2008


The Australian expedition of Macquarie University started its field work in the Teti Cemetery at Saqqara on 2 January, 2008 and ended its work on 14 February, 2008. The objectives of the expedition during this season were to continue the work started in previous seasons, particularly the excavations in the north-west of the Teti Cemetery and the continuation of the excavations in the upper level of the area to the north of the tomb of Inumin. Last year, this area produced the remains of some mud-brick walls as well as burials in poor state of preservation, all belonging to the New Kingdom.


The Excavations

Excavations continued to the north of Inumin and it was evident that the upper layer is formed of sand and debris that originally resulted from earlier excavations in the near vicinity. This is a common feature in the Teti Cemetery in general. With the removal of this layer, parts of mud-brick walls started to appear, and although we believe that they belong to the New Kingdom the remaining parts do not allow us to reconstruct the plan of the original tomb in the area. A shaft with walls constructed of large stone blocks was also discovered in the area and despite the fact that its architectural features suggest a date in the New Kingdom, it is uncertain if it belonged to the same tomb with mud-brick walls.


In the fill of the above mentioned shaft, small decorated stone fragments were found that probably formed parts of architectural elements of the tomb. Unfortunately the scenes and inscriptions on them are in a bad state of preservation. Some very poor burials from the New Kingdom and the Late Period were also found and the expedition is in the process of studying the human remains contained in these burials.


The expedition also cleared the upper layer of sand and debris to the north-west of the cemetery and continued the building of the fence, which delineates the cemetery. The upper layer of this section proved to contain the dump of previous excavations, as is the case in the northern section.


In the middle level, approximately eight meters from the rock level in the area, a number of poor burials were found as well as a wooden coffin with three adult mummified bodies and that of a child. All the bodies were blackened and extremely fragile. The coffin is made of good, thick wooden planks and is dated to the Eighteenth Dynasty. Two large storage pots were found outside the sarcophagus and a collection of fine pots of the Cypriot type were found inside. Most of these jars were in good condition and one has an uncommon, elongated shape, as is shown in the accompanying photographs. A reed basket was also discovered inside the coffin containing some cosmetic items, presumably belonging to a woman. Among these are a wooden comb, a kohl jar and other stone jars, which may have originally held cosmetic ingredients. The coffin is totally void of any inscriptions and accordingly we were unable to determine the name and titles of its owners.


In the lower level, a new mud-brick mastaba was discovered with external measurements of 7.20m x 4.30m. It has a corridor-style chapel of 5.95m. x 1.10m. with three niches constructed in the brick work of the west wall. In front of the southern-most niche, an offering basin was fitted to the ground and has an inscription surrounding its border with the following text ďAn offering which Anubis, Lord of the Divine Booth, gives (namely a very good burial in the cemetery) to the possessor of veneration before the great god, the scribe of the gang of sailors of the great boat and the scribe of the palace, IbebĒ. To the west of the above mentioned niches, three burial shafts were discovered probably belonging to the owners of the three niches.


As this cemetery is surrounded by a large and very high accumulation of sand and debris, more than fifteen meters high in certain areas, the expedition is in the process of completing the construction of a protective wall to secure the area and enhance its aesthetic appearance.


Conservation Work

Conservation work in this season was focused on the tomb of Remni, which was discovered in 2003. In the past the expedition had reconstructed the missing parts of its walls and put a protective roof above the chapel. In this season, the expedition undertook the work of conserving all the loose plaster as well as cleaning and strengthening the colours of all the scenes and inscriptions.


From our studies, it appears that a number of decorated stone blocks which belong to the tomb of Remni had been discovered and stored in previous years, beginning in 1983. Most of these fragments and blocks were taken from the stores, studied and put together in preparation for returning them to their original position in the tomb in the future. The expedition will continue its examination of this important tomb.


The Recording

The expedition recorded all the pottery and stone jars as well as the cosmetic items found in the New Kingdom burial, dated possibly to the reign of Thutmose III. The inscriptions on the offering basin belonging to Ibeb were also recorded and all the scenes and inscriptions in the tomb of Remni were drawn and photographed. The fragments belonging to Remniís architrave were also drawn and photographed in preparation for a complete reconstruction of this important item.


Finally I would like to take this opportunity to present my sincere thanks to the Supreme Council of Antiquities for permission to continue my work in this important cemetery and I would like to present special thanks to Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities; Mr. Sabri Abd-el-Aziz, the Head of the Egyptian Archaeology Sector; Mr. Madgy El-Ghandour, Director General of the Permanent Committee and Expedition Affairs; Mr. Osama El-Shimi, Director General of Archaeology at Saqqara; and Mr. Sabri Farag, Chief Inspector of Saqqara; for all the help they provided in facilitating our work. Special thanks are also due to our accompanying inspectors, Mr. Amir Nabil and Miss Miral Lashin, who spared no effort in assisting us in all aspects of the expeditions work.


This was a report of the Australian expedition in the Teti Cemetery for the season of 2008.



Head of the Australian Expedition, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Naguib Kanawati


Fig. 1 The wife of Remni on the north wall



Fig. 2 Remni and his wife on the west wall


Fig. 3 Fragments belonging to Remniís architrave



Fig. 4 An unusual jar found in an Eighteenth Dynasty burial