The tomb of Kha and Merit: the extraordinary discovery of Ernesto Schiaparelli in Deir el-Medina

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To the left statue of the architect Kha – Wood – Museo Egizio Turin – S 8335
Right, funeral mask of Merit, wife of Kha – Stucco golden – Museo Egizio Turin – S 8473
New Kingdom – Eighteenth Dynasty
From their graves – TT 8 – Deir el-Medina discovered February 15, 1906
by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli
Photos Marie Grillot

We can surely never stop being amazed by this fantastic magical Egypt. And nowhere is another fabulous discovery to be stunned. With heartfelt thanks to Marie Grillot 🙏🧡🙏🧡

via https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/ Translated from French.

From 1903 to 1906, Ernesto Schiaparelli, at the head of the Italian archaeological mission, and his collaborator Francesco Ballerini, excavated in the Valley of the Queen’s necropolis of queens, princesses, princes of the New Empire. They will discover thirteen tombs, including those of the princes Amonherkhepshef and Khaemouaset which are open today to the public.

In 1905, they began excavations on the nearby site of Deir el-Medineh, the site “which presents the enormous interest of preserving important vestiges of the village and the graves of the workers who, in the New Empire, arranged the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and that of the Queen’s”.

“Set Maat her imenty Waset” – the “Place of Truth to the west of Thebes” of antiquity
today is called artisans’ village of Deir el-Medina (photo Marie Grillot)

Founded at the beginning of the 18th dynasty under the reign of Thutmosis Iᵉʳ, then extended and enlarged several times, notably under the reigns of Thutmosis III and the first Ramessides, “Set Maât her imenty Ouaset” (the “Place of Truth in the West of Thebes “) was surrounded by high walls. For almost 500 years, “between 40 to 120 households” lived there in stone houses covered with a palm leaf roof, also have places of worship and a necropolis. The community members were mainly architects, scribes, painters, sculptors, ordinary workers, …

When the Italian mission arrives, it decides to conduct large-scale excavations, employing up to 250 workers! Schiaparelli first explores the northern part of the necropolis: he discovers there the chapel of the tomb of Maia, painter of the end of the 18th dynasty (after the reign of Akhenaten, around 1330-1320 BC). ).

On 15 February 1906, the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli
discovered at Deir el-Medina,
the tomb inviolate   the architect Kha and his wife Merit    (TT 8)

It is on February 15, 1906, after a month of intense work that is discovered “in the northern circus of the necropolis of Deir el-Medina, the untouched tomb of Kha”. If the mud-brick chapel of Kha was already known, it was a great surprise that the tomb was found “in the isolated cliffs which surround the village and not in the immediate vicinity of the chapel, as was usually the case”.

Sensing an important discovery, the Italian mission takes care to prevent the service of antiquities… Arthur Edward Pearse Brome Weigall was appointed shortly before by Gaston Maspero to replace Howard Carter as chief inspector of antiquities, responsible for the protection and the management of the antiquities of Upper Egypt. Based in Luxor, he will oversee the extraordinary event.

Different phases of the discovery of the tomb of Kha – TT 8 – Deir el-Medina
updated February 15, 1906 by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli
Photos from the film “A Torino per rivivere the scoperta della fell di Kha”
(link at end of article)

Here is part of his story: “We reached the entrance to the tomb by descending a flight of steep and steep steps, cluttered with debris. At the end of this entrance, we arrived on a passage oriented towards the hill which was blocked by a wall of large stones. After taking photographs and removing the stones, we found ourselves in a tunnel, long and low, then blocked by a second wall which was a few meters in front of us… These two walls being intact, we realized that we were about to see what no living man had ever seen before … “

Inviolate tomb of Kha and Merit when discovered February 15, 1906
by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli  
TT 8 – Deir el-Medina

Even if they expect to discover wonders, what is offered to them after opening the door takes their breath away … “All of the funeral equipment was perfectly ordered and positioned. The main elements were covered with dust that had solidified. The floor was carefully swept by the last to leave the place. A lamppost with a wooden papyrus column supporting a saucer made of copper alloy still contained the ashes of its last flames… The tomb and its contents reflected the personal wealth of the owners, their special position in society and the history of their lives. It suggested the vision of a prosperous house from the 18th dynasty, as “packaged” to be reused in the afterlife. “

There is no doubt that the architect Kha, “director of works”, and his wife Mérit were, during their lifetime, eminent figures!”A tomb of such magnificence must have taken years of preparation, a process that Kha certainly oversaw in person while he was still alive.”It turned out that his dear wife Mérit lost her life before him. “The afflicted widower then assigned him his own sarcophagus.”

Coffin Merit – Museo Egizio Turin
From the Tomb of Kha and Merit – TT 8 – Deir el-Medina discovered February 15, 1906
  by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli  
Photo Marie Grillot

In addition to the two coffins of Merit, and the three coffins of Kha – placed one inside the other – the tomb will deliver clothes, household linen, the instruments and tools of work of Kha, the toilet boxes, as well as the Merit wig, as well as its work-box…

Some pieces of furniture of Kha and Merit
From their graves – TT 8 – Deir el-Medina discovered February 15, 1906
  by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli  
Museo Egizio – Turin – Photo Marie Grillot

It is also a whole pantry for the afterlife which is revealed, thus providing important information on the food of the time: pieces of bread of different shapes, dishes of food, bags of ropes containing the doum palm fruits, a moving dish of carob compote, onions, salt blocks…

Food for eternity Kha and Merit
From their graves – TT 8 – Deir el-Medina discovered February 15, 1906
  by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli  
Photo Marie Grillot

There is no shortage of dishes, as well as magnificent jars for storing liquids.

The senet game of Kha is particularly moving: in this context of the tomb, “the senet game was terribly serious because according to chapter XVII of the Book of the dead, the winner of the game came out like a living Ba spirit. “

The long list of the contents of the tomb cannot be exhaustive.

Right, funeral mask of Merit, wife of Kha – Stucco golden – Museo Egizio Turin – S 8473
To the left statue of the architect Kha – Wood – Museo Egizio Turin – S. 8335
New Kingdom – Eighteenth Dynasty
From their graves – TT 8 – Deir el-Medina discovered February 15, 1906
by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli
Photos Marie Grillot

But it would be unforgivable not to mention three particularly touching pieces: the magnificent funerary mask of Merit, the lovely wooden statuette of Kha, as well as the papyrus from the Book of the Dead which takes place over 13 meters!

Artifacts exiting the tomb of Kha and Merit – TT 8 – Der el-Medina
Discovery February 15, 1906
by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by Ernesto Schiaparelli

The funeral treasure of Kha and Merit then takes the path to the Egyptian Museum in Turin, directed by Ernesto Schiaparelli since 1894.

Since then, it has never ceased to delight, to amaze and marvel the thousands of visitors.

A new museography space, perfectly studied, was dedicated to it in 2015. Enriched with photographic testimonies which relate the discovery, it is now fully highlighted.

Marie Grillot

sources

Art Treasures from the Museo Egizio, Eleni Vassilika, Allemandi & Co

Museo Egizio guide, Franco Cosimo Panini Publishing

The Egyptian Museum in Turin, Federico Garolla Editore

Pharaoh Artists, Deir el-Medina and the Valley of the Kings, the Louvre, 2002

Who Was Who in Egyptology, Bierbier ML, London, Egypt Exploration Society

Laboratorio Rosso

Researchers from 1798-1945 Past: Learning from archeology , Eve Gran-Aymarich

” Schiaparelli: great name of Egyptology ” ( “égyptophile”)

” Francesco Ballerini, Italian pioneer of Egyptology ” ( “égyptophile”)

” Deirelmedina “

” Topographical bibliography of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic texts, reliefs and paintings I – The Theban necropolis – 1. share private tombs ” by the late Bertha Porter and Rosalind Moss lb, b.sc . (oxon.), Ethel fsa assisted by w. Burne – 2nd Edition Griffith Institute Ashmolean Museum Oxford

“Excavations of Schiaparelli. Holdings Francesco Ballerini “CEFB, Como (Italy)

Wikipedia

MIFAO 73 : Vandier Abbadie, Joan; Jordan, Genevieve – “Two Tombs of Deir el Medina (1) Chapel Kha (2) The tomb of the royal scribe Amenemopet (1939)”

” At the Torino per rivivere scoperta della fell di Kha “

4 thoughts on “The tomb of Kha and Merit: the extraordinary discovery of Ernesto Schiaparelli in Deir el-Medina

  1. elainemansfield

    Wonderful and inspiring. One of my first philosophy teachers, Paul Brunton, inspired me with his book ‘A Search in Secret Egypt.’ He found many powerful teachers and teaching along with the profound mystical history–and he spent a night in the Great Pyramid. Things like that were allowed in the 1930s. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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