REPORT ON THE 2004 FIELDWORK SEASON OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY AT THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF EL-HIBEH, BENI-SUEF GOVERNORATE

By Carol A. Redmount, Project Director 

The salvage excavation of two burial areas with exposed mummies was conducted by Dr. Robert Yohe, Osteology Director of the Hibeh Project. Both burial areas had been identified as endangered in the 2003 season during surface reconnaissance survey of the site. The first salvage site was a disturbed limestone burial cave (Figure 4), designated Burial Chamber 1 (BC 1), located in the northeastern part of the tell mound about 100 meters inside the north gate (Figure 5).

BC-1 consisted of a small, natural cave in the limestone bedrock, measuring approximately 4 m long by 4 m wide and 1.8 m high. Remnants of a small mudbrick wall were found outside the burial cave, running parallel to the chamber entrance approximately 2 m to its west. The cave itself was culturally modified; chisels were used  to flatten the ceiling and the chisel marks are still clearly visible. Prior to excavation, human remains, including mummies, were obvious lying on the surface in the back of the cave (Figure 4); we therefore excavated the back half of the crypt to collect the vandalized mummies, along with any material culture that had been left by the looters (Figure 6).

Two strata were identified: Level 1, which consisted of the soils containing and surrounding the mummies; and Level 2, which consisted of all excavated soils below the disturbed mummies. All soils removed from the cave were sieved.  The southeast quarter of this excavation unit was taken to bedrock, which was discovered 1.80 m below the ceiling. The burials had originally been sealed by a multi-layered mud-and-rubble cap that had been breached by the tomb looters (Figure 7).

 

previous section   next section