Building on the huge success which temporary antiquities exhibitions inside and outside Egypt have witnessed, the Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Anany, inaugurated on Sunday an exhibition displaying the unearthed gems of El-Assasif Necropolis in Luxor.
Under the name, “El-Assasif South Cemetery: A Journey Through Time”, the exhibition opens its doors to visitors in order to explore the discovered relics the Egyptian mission came across through the restoration of the El-Assasif Necropolis.
The opening ceremony was attended by Elena Pischikova, the director of the American-Egyptian South Asasif Conservation Project; Moustafa Waziri, the Secretary General of Supreme Council of Antiquities; and Ayman Ashmawy, the head of ancient Egyptian antiquities sector at the Ministry of Antiquities.
El-Assasif is located in south Dra’ Abul-Naga necropolis in Luxor’s west bank. It is known to be an enriching necropolis for containing a number of individual cemeteries that date back to the period between the 18th and 26th dynasties.
However, some 5th dynasty tombs were discovered over the years indicating that the area was used at that era, which indicated that the site used to be a royal cemetery in the second half of the 11th Dynasty.
Pischikova stated that the exhibition aims to revive the long history of the El-Assasif archaeological site throughout its various historical eras.
The exhibition includes 39 Ushabti statues that the mission managed to restore from the discoveries. The showcased statues were combined from over 100 remains that the mission came across while renovating the cemeteries of the necropolis. The statues were found at the tomb of Thebes’ mayor during the 25th dynasty.
The exhibition also displays a number of canopic jars, which were used during the mummification process in order to preserve the viscera of their owner for the afterlife, as well as a limestone portrait that was found engraved in 21 pieces. The portrait depicts a lady from the 26th dynasty while worshiping Aton, the sun god.
The exhibition comes as a part of the Ministry of Antiquities’ celebration of opening two cemeteries to the public after their complete restoration which took place on Sunday. The restoration process also included four chapels at the temple of Khonsu in Luxor.
One of the tombs belongs to a noble man and his wife from the 19th dynasty. The tomb belongs to Raya– who is introduced as Amun’s fourth priest–and his wife. The cemetery’s entrance showcases inscriptions of funeral scenes. The other tomb belongs to Niay, who was the scribe of the table, as the inscriptions on his tomb shows.
The restoration of Niay’s tomb took two tears from 2015 to 2017, during which 300 Egyptian archaeologists were trained by the American Research Center in Egypt.
The restoration took place in cooperation with the ARCE, at a cost of EGP 35m granted by the USAID which also funded the training of the aforementioned Egyptian archaeologists.
According to the state-owned media outlet, Al-Ahram Online, the ARCE led restoration efforts through training 59 ministry conservationists who documented, cleaned, and restored four of the temple’s chapels in the Khonsu Temple at Karnak. The conservationists also removed patches from previous restoration work in the 1960s and 1970s and replaced them using the latest technology.
At the opening of the cemeteries, El-Anany praised the “continuous cooperation between Egypt and the United States, which led to the opening of a number of archaeological projects, including the reduction of the ground water of Kom El-Shoqafa archaeological sites in Alexandria, and the restoration of Kom Ombo site in Aswan.”
During his visit to Luxor, El-Anany also stated the start of the restoration of one of Ramses II’s statues at the west bank of Luxor Temple.
Waziri explained that the restoration will take place in cooperation with a mission from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, which he will lead. The seven-metre long statue is made of red granite.