Institut für die Kulturen des Alten Orients

Discoveries from the Tomb of Ibi (TT 36)

In conjunction with the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo (DAIK), assisted by a research grant from the Fritz Thyssen foundation.

Ibi’s tomb complex lies in north Asasif on the Theban west bank in modern Luxor. The sprawling necropolis consists mainly of private tombs from the Late Period and stretches along the processional road from the edge of the irrigated land up to the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut in the Western Mountains of Deir el-Bahari. The underground areas of Ibi’s tomb were explored from 1970 to 82 as part of a project, supported by the DFG, to document and publish selected tombs from the Theban necropolis. At this time most of the work was concerned with the inscriptions but this led to a clean-up of the tomb and the opening of the coffin chamber. The surface structures of tomb TT36 however were studied and presented by a Belgian team with cooperation from Erhard Graefe. In 1989, Daniel Polz and Klaus-Peter Kuhlmann lead further work on the underground areas of the Ibi’s tomb for the DAIK. When three shafts were uncovered leading out from the rooms R5, R7, and R9 in the north of the complex, eventually the burial chamber of Psamtik was also discovered at the end of shaft R5 and subsequently excavated. This burial chamber with its exquisite decorations and unique collection of texts has been excellently preserved and is a jewel among tombs of the Late Period. An evaluation and publication of the findings from the excavations here has not yet been completed, but this project aims to fill this void by processing the finds from Ibi’s tomb. Moreover, by working on this material the project hopes not only to research the association of text and pictures with the conception and development of tomb decoration but also gain insight into Psamtik’s family ties and his position in the wider Theban community.

A second branch of the project is concerned with the conservation of Ibi’s two sarcophagi, discovered during the excavations led by Wolfgang Schenkel and Klaus P. Kuhlmann from 1970 to 1982. The inner coffin is anthropomorphic and made from basalt whereas the outer one is quartzite. Large pieces of the outer coffin were found at the beginning of the preliminary work in February 1970 still in situ in the coffin room, and further small fragments were discovered outside. Of the inner sarcophagus only small fragments remained in the coffin room, as the main parts had been removed at an earlier stage, along with two large slabs from the floor and remains of the walls. The coffin lid however is intact, having been taken to the Egyptian Museum in Turin in the 19th century (inv. no. 2202). The aim is to attempt a reconstruction of both of Ibi’s sarcophagi from the remaining parts. Instrumental in this are close parallels like the sarcophagus of Pabasa which shed light on parts that are missing, particularly with regard to the inscriptions. The next step will be to translate the inscriptions when they have been completed and examine them chronologically and theologically. The chance to research a complete coffin ensemble, comprising an inner and an outer sarcophagus which for the most part have been preserved, is a rare opportunity to study how the decoration of each sarcophagus complements and supplements one another, for example how different accents are used and themes are repeated, and the variations found therein. The discovery during the excavation of the tomb complex surface structure of a further, third, decorated wooden sarcophagus belonging to Ibi, makes this research even more interesting, even if it seems this coffin was not used in Ibi’s burial.