|Finnish team at the
workmen's huts in 2011
|The Finnish version of the “Reflections on the Workmen's Huts in the Theban Mountains field
project's third season” was written by Jaana Toivari-Viitala and published in The Finnish
Egyptological Society’s member newsletter KIRJURI, 1/2012.
The article was kindly translated by Heidi Kontkanen from Helsinki.
|The Preliminary report of the work performed by the Academy of Finland and University of Helsinki's
Workmen's Huts in the Theban Mountains Project during the 5th season in 2012–2013
Jaana Toivari-Viitala, Elina Paulin-Grothe, Tanja Alsheimer and Virpi Perunka
The Preliminary report of the work performed during the Fourth season in 2011-2012, Jaana Toivari-
Viitala, Elina Paulin-Grothe, Tanja Alsheimer, Virpi Perunka and Annika
Eklund, was published shortly before the seminar was held, and is available at
Abstract of the preliminary report of the work performed during season 2010 by Jaana Toivari-Viitala,
Tanja Alsheimer, Annika Eklund and Virpi Perunka
|The fourth field season of the research group called "Workmen's huts in the Theban mountains", which
is a part of the ongoing project "Man and his environment", was launched on the 10th October 2011 and
was again funded by the Academy of Finland.
The working area of the most recent season was more extensive than the area of previous seasons. The
primary goal was to excavate and document the Western cluster of huts and also the mountain cliff
chapel ruins and its surrounding area.
In addition, measuring and documentation work of the Northern and Eastern clusters was carried out.
The season was very successful and all the intended objectives were achieved.
|The area of excavation is now accurately
measured, so that there is enough data to
produce an overall map of the site and of the
individual huts and the chapel.
Preliminary maps show significant differences
compared with the map published by Bernard
Bruyère in his excavation report of 1939.
Most of the pottery finds consisted of
fragments, although several examples of
complete vessels were found. Two bowls were
discovered within one of the mastaba benches in
the Western cluster. Most of the pottery
fragments can be dated to the New Kingdom,
precisely to the 19th and 20th dynasties, but
quite a lot of Coptic pottery was also revealed.
|The identification of the individual
rooms in the Western cluster
became something of a challenge
because the reality did not match
with Bruyère’s map from 1939.
After the crumbling stones were
carried away from the standing
walls and room units were clearly
distinguishable, the number of
existing rooms in the cluster could
be counted. The sum total was 51.
|The heights of the walls varied a great deal
through the center of the cluster from East to
West, causing a marked decrease between the
huts. The rooms constructed in the hollow were
thus located at a much lower level than the
rooms that were located on the outskirts of
the cluster. Almost all the walls were restored
during the French excavations in 1939.
In some places none of the original ancient
Egyptian walls remained, in other places only
the lowest layer of stones was original.
Fragments of plaster, used to produce a
smooth wall surface, were found in many
rooms. Sometimes the remains of a thinner,
1-3 millimeters thick layer of white plaster
could be distinguished on top of the thicker
grayish brown layer of plaster. Many of the
walls thus had a smooth surface that was at
least partially whitewashed.
|As the ground is very rough and is
sloping in various directions, the flat
floors were constructed using loose soil
parts of the floor surface. A smooth
surface was then created by compaction
and / or coating it with mortar.
Architectural elements found in the
rooms consisted of mastaba benches,
seats / stools made of limestone, fixed
thresholds and loose thresholds carved in
stone with a hole for a door bolt (door
has thus been designed like the swinging
doors). A limestone headrest was also
Remains of fireplaces were detected in
three of the rooms. Two more fireplaces
were found near the cluster's outer
walls. Coptic pottery shards were found
in the remains of ashes of one fireplace.
|The identification and analysis of the chapel
ruins is problematic. No evidence that would
clarify to whom or to which gods the chapel
was dedicated to was found. Even the design
of the structure itself raises questions.
It is possible that it consisted of a central
altar space bordered on each side by a room.
That would be a typical "tripartite sanctuary"
for the holy triad. At the moment it is not
possible to say with certainty that the
flanked units really were "rooms".
There are steps carved in the rock cliff
flanking the chapel's southern wall. Some of
the steps carry engraved graffiti which dates
from the Pharaonic period and is unpublished.
|The Pharaonic graffiti that covers
the cliff surface has been
published. Steps carved into the
mountain rock are also visible in
front of the sanctuary itself.
Remains of plaster were found on
these steps and also on the
sanctuary walls and on its floor.
|The most spectacular discovery was made under a pile of stones, that was described as a "thick wall"
that separated two rooms in the Eastern cluster during the French excavations. When the stones
were removed it turned out that the ”thick wall” was actually a small room or space between the two
rooms. In one corner of the room was revealed - what at first glance looked like - a pile of fabric
material. Maybe linen for mummification? No! When the bundle was studied it was found that it
consisted of twisted rags which were used as lamp wicks. Never in all her "Egyptological life" has
Jaana Toivari-Viitala seen anything like it - not in any museum or in any publication.
Some modern objects were also unearthed. Pieces of pipes, perhaps used by Bruyère himself came
out of the sand as well as old and stylish cigarette boxes.
Once the field work was completed all the objects were taken down to the Valley of the Kings, and
later were transported to the SCA magazine adjacent to the Carter House.
The next season starting in Autumn 2012 will focus on performing conservation of the ruins in the best
|The project team: Jaana Toivari-Viitala, Elina Paulin-Grothe, Tanja Alsheimer, Virpi Perunka, Annika
Eklund, Pavel Onderka, John Winfer, Abd El-Hamid Osman Taia Daramalli (Abdu), Yrjö Viitala, student
trainee Kaarina Hemminki, insp. Mohamed Hatim from SCA + 41 local workers
|The number of findings for this
season rose to 229. Most of the
objects found are ostraka with
hieratic texts or graphic designs.
Fragments of stelae with images
and many fragments with
hieroglyphic text were also found.
|To read about the London Seminar, called The Workmen's Huts in the Theban Mountains - documenting
the royal tomb-builders' huts above the Valley of the Kings, organised by the Egypt Exploration Society
on the 8th September 2012, follow the link to EES Seminar.