International Conference - Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 17th–19th July 2014

Burial and Mortuary Practices in Late Period and Graeco-Roman Egypt

19th July
15:00 Zoltán Imre Fábián: Re-use and modification of a saff-tomb on the south slope of el-Khokha, Thebes
On the el-Khokha hillock, in the central part of the Theban necropoleis, where the most ancient
decorated tombs of the area are known, recent excavations have also pointed out saff-tombs with
pillared façades. In one of these that can be dated to the First Intermediate Period or the early
Middle Kingdom, not only a rich material of the original burial was found but later architectural
modifications could also be identified. More than a millennium later than the saff-tomb was
constructed, new burial places were formed, among others a shaft tomb, and a part of the saff seems
to have served as its superstructure. The intercolumnia of some of the pillars were blocked with mud
brick walls and a new chamber was shaped, probably a cult chamber. After an earthquake, however
this was also used as a burial chamber. These architectural modifications can be regarded as a special
type of secondary burial places. The analysis of the mostly fragmentary and rather mixed material of
the shaft tomb, which contained gilded faience amulets, Grecian amphorae and in situ finds as well,
shows that the shaft tomb was used in several phases both during the Third Intermediate Period and
the Late Period. This can also contribute to a more precise dating of the finds and the better
understanding of the secondary architectural structures.

15:20 Orsolya László: "From Chaos to coherence": Anthropological analysis of commingled human remains from Tomb Saff-1 at El-Khokha Hill in Qurna
Anthropological investigations of the human bone material from the excavation of the Hungarian
Archaeological Mission at the southern slope of el-Khoha Hill was started in 2011 and continued in
2014. The analysis was completed on the comingled anthropological material of presumably
secondary burials found without clear archaeological context but accompanied by scattered TIP and
LP finds in the FIP/early MK Tomb Saff-1. The human remains were sorted using morphological
techniques, including the assessment of the minimum number of individuals (MNI), as well as
standard techniques to estimate age, sex and stature. For the whole material, the estimated MNI was
82. During the excavation, the finds of certain parts in Tomb Saff-1 were separated according to the
characteristically different architectural units. My examination was started following these smaller
areas. The results show whether the separation is relevant in the case of the human remains, or the
material is more mingled than expected, and if it is, in which areas. The overall high ratio of children
(MNI=29) in the material is striking and our results also show that the inner parts of the tomb
contained more sub-adults. As for general pathological observations, there was a high occurrence of
certain pathological alterations, while others were lacking – possibly a characteristic of the
population in this area. One of the most frequent phenomena was endocranial lesions, which could
be found especially among children. It was extremely frequently detected at the axis of the inner part
of Saff-1 (MNI=4) and all the affected individuals were under the age of six. At the same time,
inflammation of the periosteum (periostitis) on long bones was not detected, which might be the
result of diffuse or local infections. Regarding dental problems, dental attrition was the most
common, which appeared to be severe even in young ages. Symptoms of periodental disease can
also be found. With regard to dental problems, the presence of cysta/abscess and the high frequency
of antemortem tooth loss were common.

Detailed programme of the conference on the Museum's page

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