Monday, February 13, 2006

Discovery of Djed-Khonsu-es-ankh, Governor of Bahariya

Part 1 of a two-part account by Zahi Hawass of the discovery of the tomb of Djed-Khonsu-es-ankh, the Governor of Bahariya, repeated here in full due to the absence of an archive on the Egyptian Gazette website:
"The story of the governor's tomb began in 1947 when Ahmed Fakhry, an Egyptian archaeologist, excavated three tombs, dating to 26th Dynasty. These tombs belonged to Ta-Nefert-Bastet, Thaty, and Bedashtar.
When Fakhry discovered these tombs he was more interested in exploring as much as possible. So, they were briefly described and left unexcavated. Over time, desert sand reburies sites as it had done for thousands of years. I realised there was more to this particular group of tombs.Before I excavated Bahariya, it was my dream to discover the tomb of its most powerful governor during the 26th Dynasty, Djed-Khonsu-efankh. This had also been Fakhry's dream. When I was a young man I felt a special connection with Fakhry, whose books I read while I was in college. When I read about the 'Lost Tomb,' something captured my imagination. I was determined to discover this tomb as a dedication to him.
At the end of our 1999 season, two young men came to me and told me that they could tell me something very important that would help me make a huge discovery and they would lead me personally to the location. I asked them what they wanted from me, and they wanted jobs in the Inspectorate, perhaps as security officers.
They said that five men were going to dig under houses near the cenotaph of Sheikh Soby for artifacts to sell. There were many tombs there. I asked, 'are you sure of this information?' The young men swore they were telling the truth. I told them that if we found the tombs, we would give them both jobs at the Antiquities office in Bahariya.
One night Ashry and I went to Sheikh Soby to watch, but nothing happened. The next day, we went into one of the houses and saw a hole in the floor. When we looked inside we were amazed to see painted scenes of a tomb chapel about fifteen to twenty feet underground. At the bottom of this shaft there was a maze of rounded rooms forming chambers and corridors of the three tombs Ahmed Fakhry had discovered in 1947."

This tomb dates to the 26th Dynasty and the riegn of Amasis. Bahariya oasis was originally considered to be a threat to the Egyptian kingdom under the reign of Tuthmosis III, who brought Bahariya more securely under the control of Egypt in the New Kingdom, establishing an administrative organization there.

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