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In mid-March 2018, a research team traveled to Egypt for the annual excavation campaign at the village of Sakkara. The team consists of several scientists and is led by Dr. Lara Weiss, curator of the Egyptian collection of the National Museum of Antiquities and Dr. Christian Greco, director of the Museo Egizio, Turin.

Lara Weiss and her team write a ‘digging diary’ every week:

Week 6 (27 April 2017)

After Turin joined the excavations as a partner in 2015, Christian and Lara look back to this first year of their Leiden-Turin excavations directed by the two of them together.
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Week 5 (20 April 2018)

Only three working days in the field are left of our excavations season in Saqqara next week. As usual – the most exciting finds come up at the end, now in fact right on time to please our former field director (and RMO curator) Maarten Raven, who visited us for a few days this week. We have now reached the bottom of the Ramesside layer and found a few decorated blocks of the north wall of larger of the two Ramesside chapels uncovered in 2017, but again no name has been preserved unfortunately. Also the third, new chapel was freed from the sand and now shows, for example, a beautiful burial procession scene with many vivid colours still preserved. Yet again the chapel owner remains anonymous. Perhaps we will find a name when we will excavate the related shaft in 2019. Finally, beside recording and documentation, we have now also started to clean and restore the reliefs and architectural elements with the help of our Egyptian colleagues.
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Week 4 (13 April 2018)

“This was an exciting week! Ali excavated a child burial that was found underneath the Coptic floor and Paolo and the 3D Survey Group started exploring the shaft of the smaller of the two Ramesside chapels found in 2017. The three burial chambers underneath belong to the small chapel, and there is also a robbers hole probably leading to the chambers of the shaft of a third, new chapel still partly buried under the Coptic occupation layer that needs to be further explored.

Nico continued his work on the embalmers caches. Lastly, our new storage spaces were completed so we could start rearranging materials found in previous seasons. The new shelfs facilitate access to both objects and bones found in previous seasons, so everything is ready to be further studied in depth.”
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Pottery specialist Valentina Gasparini tells us about the pottery found at Sakkara inthis video.

Week 3 (6 April 2018)

“Another week of excavation has been completed. We still have three weeks of work ahead but already interesting results were reached. We extended the excavation area of about 100 sq. metres to the West of the two small Ramesside chapels found last year. The extension of the area also allowed us to remove another section of the old retaining wall that was built to prevent the sand from flowing back in the late 1980s after the excavation of the tomb of Maya. This revealed more of the thick mudbrick wall found last year immediately to the north of Mayas external wall, and most likely pertaining to another New Kingdom tomb. We must also mention the careful stratigraphical investigation of the interesting Late Antique occupation levels, plastered installations and walls carried out by our Leiden university team member Miriam Mller and the excavation and recording of new Late Period embalming deposits by Nico Staring.

All the archaeological documentation this year is hugely benefiting from the participation in the Dutch-Italian archaeological fieldwork of the 3D Survey Group. The group is an Italian interdisciplinary team of engineers, architects and archaeologists based in Milan working and carrying out research on cultural heritage. In particular, the team is specialized in 3D survey techniques and modelling applied to cultural heritage and environment. Read more about their work in the digging diary!”
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Week 2 (30 March 2018)

”Its our third week in Egypt, the second in which we are actually excavating. Miriam is carefully clearing the hill north to our two small Ramesside chapels, in an area that we call the Coptic occupation layer, i.e. not actually a house, but the remains of some occupation. Particularly interesting was the find of the dump of some workshop materials among which two flint stone knifes, a whetstone and a polishing stone. Underneath the first limestone walls showed. This means were are on our way to Ramesside age.

In the meantime the Milano 3D Survey Group has finalized the scan of the tomb of Maya and is now continuing with the tomb of Tia and Tia. The results are amazing. Read more about their work next week!”
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Week 1 (23 March 2018)

“This year the Leiden-Turin team only received all necessary permissions to excavate in Sakkara at the very last moment. That is why the entire team had not yet flown to Egypt.First in the field were the deputy field director Paolo Del Vesco from Turin, our new bone expert from Leiden University Sarah Schrader and I.

The idea is to renew our cooperation with Leiden University and then soon to be able again to allow graduate students to come to Sakkara. A second aim is to set up a research plan and hopefully be able to invite some PhD students to Saqqara soon. Egyptologist Miriam Mller will also soon join the team for the same reason. In addition, two new surveyors of the 3D Survey Group of the Politecnico di Milano have started to measure the tombs and help us to measure and scan the results of the upcoming excavations.

We expect an exciting season in which the new team hopes to better understand the area to the north of the tomb of Maya. This is an area in which the ancient Egyptians built several small chapels in the Ramesside period and where also later many activities took place.” (read more )

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