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Three fragments in the Strasbourg Collection

The original source of three small fragments of inscribed stone in the Egyptological Collection of the University of Strasbourg has recently been identified. The pieces, which appeared on the antiquities market in 1903, were originally thought to have been found in the Valley of the Queens.

A team headed by Geoffrey Martin, Piers Litherland and Mohsen Kamel of the New Kingdom Research Foundation have been clearing a group of shaft tombs (WB1) ten kilometres from Malqata to the west of the main Theban burial grounds in Luxor. These uniquely complex shaft tombs are arranged on three different levels and one has the additional unusual feature of having been plastered and painted black. All had been thoroughly robbed both in antiquity and in modern times. However, many fragments were left behind in these tombs and it has been possible to match the pieces in Strasbourg to objects found recently in these tombs. 

Figure 1. The complex shaft tombs on three levels from which these objects came.

 

 

 

 

 

The first Strasbourg piece (1395, Figure 2), of grey limestone, fits another small fragment found in Shaft Two and creates the horizontal text “of the House of the King’s Wife”. This was almost certainly the part of the royal household belonging to Amenhotep III’s chief wife, Tiye. This inscription would have been part of a canopic jar belonging possibly to a woman called Satti but this is not certain. 

Figure 2. The 1395 Strasbourg piece is on the right. The piece of the left is a different colour because it is covered in dust.

 

 

 

 

The second piece (1397, Figure 3), of alabaster with blue lettering, fits a small fragment from our site which completes a partial inscription from a large circular offering dish. This alabaster dish would most likely have belonged either to the King’s Wife Henut, or to the Great Wife of the King, Nebetnuhet.

Figure 3. The 1397 Strasbourg piece is on the right and adjoins a small fragment at the top left. The whole piece would fit into the dish shown in Figure 4.

 

 

 

 

Figure 4. The dish from which the pieces in Figure 2 are likely to have come.

 

 

 

 

The third piece (1396, Figure 5), is part of a small jar and names “the king’s son Menkheperre”. We have been able to fit this into one of a set of four small canopic jars. We have also been able to re-assemble the fragments of one lid of this set of jars. Menkheperre’s canopic jars were found in the same tomb as the remains of Nebetnuhet’s canopic jars. Also found in this tomb was a fragment naming “the king’s son, his beloved”. Elsewhere, on the surface above the tombs, we found the name “Menkheper[re]” on a storage jar. So there seems to be little doubt that Menkheperre was buried here. From the association with Nebetnuhet it looks as though she was Menkheperre’s mother and that he was therefore a son of Amenhotep III and half-brother of the famous Akhenaten.

 

Figure 5. The 1396 Strasbourg fragment naming Menkheperre as son of the king.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 6. The Strasbourg piece has been pasted into this photograph and can be seen on the second jar from the right.

 

 

 

 

 We are most grateful to the University of Strasbourg, to Professor Colin and Mme Hartenstein for kindly taking and supplying the photographs of the Strasbourg fragments which have allowed us to do this work.

 

 

Piers Litherland

Field Director

New Kingdom Research Foundation

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