Brazilians to excavate tombs in Egypt
A team led by archaeologist José Roberto Pellini, of the Federal University of Sergipe, already had its project approved by Egyptian authorities and plans to start working in March 2017.
São Paulo and Cairo – More than two centuries after Napoleon invaded Egypt, bringing with him scientists who were the first to study the country’s long history, new archaeological finds have been frequent. “New finds happen every day across Egypt,” said Mohamed Ismail Khaled, director of the Department of Foreign Missions of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. According to him, some 250 missions with foreign scientists are currently conducting research in Egyptian territory, not to mention the native teams.
One such mission is composed of Brazilian researchers whose project has already been approved by Egyptian authorities, with field work slated to begin in March 2017. “We will excavate two tombs in the Teban Necropolis,” said to ANBA the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS) Archaeology professor and the expedition’s director-general José Roberto Pellini.
The staff also includes researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the University of São Paulo (USP), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), the Eötvös Loránd University, in Hungary, and personnel from Egypt’s own Supreme Council of Antiquities.
According to Pellini, the initiative, dubbed the Brazilian Archaeological Program in Egypt (Bape), is the first Brazilian mission of its kind, and will focus on the sites known as TT (for “Theban Tomb”) 123 and TT 368, in the so-called Valley of the Nobles, in the locality of Sheikh Abd El Qurna, along the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor, Upper Egypt.
The tombs belong to Amenemhet, a scribe, granary supervisor, and bread counter during the reign of Thutmosis III (1504 to 1450 BC); and Amenhotep, the supervisor to the sculptors of god Amon in the southern portion of the city of Tebas, then Egypt’s capital. Both lived during the 18th pharaonic dynasty, and according to Pellini, their tombs are connected by a passageway.
The team will perform excavation, conservation, and restoration work, Egyptology studies, documentation, and area analysis/mapping. The conservation and documentation work will be entrusted to Egyptian specialists. According to Pellini, March 2017 will mark the beginning of the program’s first stage. The entire project should last five to six years.
The UFS professor has done this type of work before, since from 2008 to 2012 he served a stint as general excavation coordinator for a project of Argentina’s Tucumã University. The dig took place in Luxor, at TT 49, the site of the tomb of Neferhotep, a priest of Amon, also from the 18th dynasty. “It’s the only tomb to feature a depiction the temple of Karnak (in Luxor),” said Pellini, the holder of a doctorate degree in Egyptian Archaeology.
At the time, Pellini was a professor at the UFMG. “After [the work in Argentina], the Luxor Antiquities Service invited us to develop a project of our own [i.e. a Brazilian project],” he said. “Egypt is fascinating, I am passionate about it,” he added.
The foreign missions currently doing research in Egypt hail from 30 different countries. “We would be glad to have even more missions from Brazil,” said the Egyptian minister of Antiquities Khaled El Enany.
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum