Updated February 2016

Otto's Dig (less) Diary  *KV-63 excavation complete

Otto's Dig Diary

4 November 2010

The autumn is now upon us and it is time to summarize the activities of the summer. The required report for the Annalers du service des antiquitse de l’Egypte was sent to Cairo late in June and the preliminary paperwork for the 2011 was submitted last month..

Just received a PDF copy of my article “The West Valley and Amenmesse Projects” which was submitted for publication with the papers from the VALLEY OF THE KINGS SINCE HOWARD CARTER SYMPOSIUM on November 4, 2009 in Luxor. Publication is slated for the Cahiers du service des Antiquities de l’Egypte 41 and will apparently be on pp. 145-160. I must check through it and submit any corrections by mid November. Earl Ertman’s article for that same publication is entitled “Select Figurative Ostraca from the Area of the Amenmesse Project, Valley of the Kings,” CASAE  41 and will be on pp. 1-18. Another member of our group, Salima Ikram, presented a paper entitled “Princes and Pets: Animal Mummies in the Valley of the Kings.” Her report touched upon a few items, including a “shrew bundle” which was found in KV-10. I assume this publication will become available early in 2011.

The Proposal for next season continues in the “study season” mode as we hope we can begin to wind down the work on the coffins and the ceramics. It is hoped that ARCE’s Saied Hamed Hassan will resume work (in the Luxor Museum) on the small Coffin D and other coffins will be dealt with in our workroom in KV-10.

Last season, we began trying to reassemble some of the fragments of Coffin A in the hopes of recovering more of the inscriptions.This process will continue as the evidence collected thuds far suggests the texts are very untraditional and probably date to the Akhenaten era. Coffin F, with its marvelously carved face mask, proved to be hopeless insofar as recovering any inscriptions, so the intended owner will forever remain nameless. Coffin G, the youth’s coffin, has yet to be well examined; this will be on tap for 2011.The Proposal lists the various items we hope to work on, and that includes tracking down the gilt coffinette (artifact G.6) which was found under the pillows in Coffin G. The small coffin is now in a museum at Sharm el Sheikh. We also seek access to some registered finds (mostly from KV-10) now in the magazine near the Carter House. As study of the KV-63 artifacts should soon be winding down, we hope to begin shifting gears so as to complete our work on the finds from KV-10 and the huts. Perhaps by 2012, we can finally clear the descent in KV-10’s pillared hall, which is currently being utilized for the work on the  KV-63 coffins and other finds.

The 2011 is slated to get started soon after the start of the New Year. It’s length will in large measure be determined by our funding. We still have some reserve from that Robert Little Grant (Akron) which Earl Ertman gained for us a few years ago, but we will need considerably more for next season. Our hope is that our usual donors will come through and that we can somehow find some new benefactors. As we are now down to Study Seasons, the work does not have the same type of exciting appeal as when the KV-63 was first discovered and investigated. Soon we will send out appeals to our main donors.

The security documents submitted to the SCA included eleven persons, but at this early writing, we are not certain how many of that group can be supported. At some point soon, a travel itinerary for myself will have to be established, and that will call for a return date.

Earl Ertman was unable to travel earlier this year and will miss our 2011 season as well. He has had difficulties with his hip replacement surgeries and has developed a  pesky infection.With operations and treatments, he has spent time in hospitals but at present is back home and able to get about somewhat. He will go for further tests in mid-November. Depending on the status of that infection, the doctors will then decide on what steps to be taken next.We wish him a speedy recovery!

We should soon have some news on the ”samples” which were tested at the SCA’s Research and Conservation Center (Projects Section) in Cairo. They may be available to us in the near future; we will add a report to our web site when the results are known. Bill Petty will have his agent (Khaled) in Cairo get the needed funds to Salima Ikram who will get the funds to the research center in the near future.

In addition to the Egyptian travel in the works for the year’s end, I will go to California at the end of the first week of November to present some Updates on the KV-63 work for some of the ARCE chapters there. I was about to collect details of those lectures but our web person, Roxanne Wilson, was way ahead of me and  had already put that material on our KV-63 web site some time ago.

We will try to get in one more Update before my departure in late December. My hope is to finalize my air ticket for Egypt in a few days from now. The aim is to reach Cairo on or about the start of the New Year, then it should be possible to get started in the KV before the end of the first week in January. The length of the season will, of course, depend on the success of our fundraising!

Otto Schaden

10 July 2010

Since my return from Egypt earlier this year, I have sent in a short report on “KV63: 2010 Season” which is now available in KMT 21 (No. 2, Summer 2010) 45-49.  A more detailed report was just recently submitted to the editor of the Annales du service des Antiquites de l’Egypte.  In addition to the aforementioned reports, a short summary has been sent to editor, Imad Adly of Orientalia for their customary compilation of reports on work in Egypt and the Sudan.  Roxanne Wilson prepared the CD and materials for the ASAE paper and for Orientalia.  

The work in the 2010 season centered primarily on Coffins A, B, D and F, plus a major effort was made to get as much pottery mending and drawing accomplished.  The ASAE paper contained seven pages of pot drawings, most at 1:5 scale and one at 1:8.  Many blue painted vessels were mended this past season. Once the mending and drawing have reached a good cutoff point, we will develop a corpus for the KV-63 wares.

Artist Darcy Hackley, with us for the first time in 2010, drew our seal impressions. Her drawings were done at a 4:1 scale and will be presented here at a later date.

Saied Abdel Hamed Hassan of ARCE’s Conservation School (Luxor) is studying and testing the small gilt Coffin D in order to determine if the varnish or resin partly concealing the details of the face can be removed.  We are currently awaiting a report from Saied Hamed.

Some ‘test samples’ plus some ancient repair mortar from KV-63 are now at the Research and Conservation center (Projects Section) of the SCA in Cairo. Results are still pending from Dr. Nabila Salem.

Since my return in March, I did present a talk to the Egypt Study Society in Denver, Colorado.  Bill Petty (Museum Tours, Inc.) is connected with that organization and they have been most helpful in assisting us with financial matters. I also have a lecture scheduled Sept. 12 for the Chicago ARCE chapter and another series of lectures in early November for several ARCE chapters in California.  The travel dates and times for the California presentations are currently being established, so details on the locations and times will be provided at a later date.

By the end of September, our proposal and security documentation will have to be submitted for the upcoming season which is slated to begin in early January 2011.  Next year, we will again be in a ‘study season’ mode with a smaller staff. Lest there be some new information that requires some comments, our next Dig Diary update will probably be added later this summer, when we are about ready to submit our proposal and security papers.  At that time, we will also comment on some KV-63 materials which should be on our to-do list for 2011.

On a final note, Earl was hospitalized for ten days last month after ongoing several operations for an infection in his leg. We are happy to report that Earl is now home and sends his thanks to those who sent well wishes.

Otto Schaden

19 April 2010 *Lecture

Lecture on KV-63 by Dr. Otto Schaden

Monday, April 19, at 7:00 PM

Ricketson Auditorium in the

Denver Museum - Nature and Science

2001 Colorado Blvd.

Denver, Colorado. USA

Sponsored by the Egyptian Study Society (ESS). 
ESS website www.egyptstudy.org

13 March 2010

Our 2010 season has drawn to a close. On March 11th we locked and resealed KV-10.


Tasks for the final week included some work on fragments of Coffin A, the Coffin F face and lid, pot mending and recording. We also selected some materials from the excavations of KV-10 and the nearby workmen’s huts for transfer to the magazine. For now, we anticipate that the bulk of the KV-63 will remain at hand and accessible in KV-10.


Some planned tasks for 2010 did not materialize. Sue Osgood (Chicago House) had drawn all the KV-63 coffins but for the gilt coffinette (item G.6) and planned to do that one this season. For my part, I wanted to review the very faint inscription on one of the alabaster jars from Coffin A  --- these items were registered in 2006 and then moved to the magazine.  Unfortunately, they have recently been transferred from the magazine, so we will have to see what procedures will be necessary to gain access to those artifacts next season.


As reported in our earlier Update, the facemask of Coffin B has been restored to several main parts of the lid.  This has vastly improved the appearance of the face.  However, the lid showed nary a trace of painted or incised decoration, so the owner of Coffin B will remain unknown.


Coffin A was made for a Royal Nurse named Iny, as reported at the end of last season.  However, we noticed some additional decoration and so we have been examining other parts of the lid and box in the hope of reassembling more connected texts on the cross bands.  Only one cross band was legible and it translates as “Revered, may I see Re in the sky and drink from the pool….”.  This unusual statement and the lack of mention of the traditional deities led us to suggest that Iny flourished during the Akhenaton era.  It is unlike we can recover much more of the cross bands in the last few days of this season, but we will continue to gain as much data on the texts and decoration of Coffin A as is possible.


Coffin F has the beautiful face, but the wood is in terrible condition. The lid has more microbalon than surviving wood, so our attempt to find any texts has not been successful.   The area of the facemask has been strengthened and cleaned.   It was at the bottom of Coffin F that we found a mat; it seems to be the full length of the coffin, but after cleaning and conserving, we found it was not a single piece, but several sections.


We had a representative from the National Research Center (Dokki) to collect some samples for testing on Monday. Most samples are items from KV-63, but we have also included some of the ancient repair plaster from KV-10. That plaster is basically sand and limestone dust, but it has some adhesive, which has enabled it to withstand numerous floods in KV-10.  We hope that the “adhesive” used can be identified.


Small coffin D was not authorized for transfer and examination to the ARCE conservation lab in Luxor, but we have had it moved to the Luxor Museum where ARCE’s Saied Hamed can examine it and make recommendations for the possible removal of resins or lacquers which partly conceal the details of the face. It is unlikely that we will have anything definite to report until much later.


Ali ”Bes” Abdullah and Ahmed Amir have been mending pottery. We have repaired over a dozen blue-painted jars and a variety of other wares. Many have parallels with the assemblage from the Tutankhamun embalming materials found by Theodore Davis in KV-54.


I presented a report on our season for the SCA’s weekly lecture program at the Mummification Museum. This season’s work on the coffins and the ceramics were the main topics.


Staff on site for the final days were: Archie Chubb, Betty Schneider, Maryann Marazzi, SCA conservators Ahmed Baghdady, Mohammed Mahmoud, Zaref Basili and Inspector Ayman Mohammed Ibrahim. Brent Benjamin departed about a week ago.


Ohio Earl (Ertman) did not come out this year, but we keep him apprised of our activities.  A good part of our funds are left over from the Robert Little Trust grant which Earl gained for us in 2009.  We will soon have depleted that grant, but it has been a major factor in our seasons of 2009 and 2010. Bill Petty (Museum Tours) again has handled our tax exempt fund raising, though last year, our web person, Roxanne Wilson, set up a Pay Pal system for donations and kept the website updated.


We will get this report out, for during the last few days things get somewhat hectic here as we must repack, complete reports, travel back to Cairo and then finally head for home.  Then, it seems, the real work begins.


Otto Schaden

13 February 2010

After four weeks, we do have some encouraging progress to report.  

Our SCA conservators (Ahmed Baghdady, Mohammed Mahmoud and Zaref Basili) have recently reattached Coffin B’s facemask to the lid. The unattached mask had been strange to behold, but now that it is back in it’s proper place it presents a more favorable appearance. See ‘Photos ~ 2010’ for images of the stages of restoration of the facemask including the final result. Further removal of resin from the lid of Coffin B proved useless  --- we only found unadorned wood.  

We are in the process of checking the texts on the Coffin A’s fragments.  Last season we uncovered inscriptions identifying the owner as a “Royal Nurse, Iny.”  The glass inlays for part of the eyes and the incised inscriptions suggested a rather exemplary coffin. Gold leaf added to that opinion.  In cleaning, we found an incised collar at the sides that turned inward and unites under the crossed arms.  The details are sketchy due to the poor preservation, but there is definitely more gold leaf, red (ochre?) and traces of blue inlays.  Chicago House artist, Sue Osgood, is adding what remains of this collar to her drawing of the coffin lid.

In addition to cleaning and illustrating the collar of Coffin A, the SCA conservators plan to do more consolidation and repair on the facemask and join sections of the lappets (side ends of wig).

Artist Laurel Darcy Hackley is currently with us. She drew some ceramics and is presently working on some seal impressions with the help of some little assistants (see ‘2010 ~ Photos’).

Ali “Bes” Abdullah and Ahmed Attira have been mending pottery. We have many fragments of the KV-54 types C and D (after Winlock’s Pottery Corpus in his Materials Used at the Embalming of King Tut-ankh-amun, NY, 1941 on pls. IX-X). We will not try to mend them all, but will do enough to get a general idea of the approximate numbers of each type. Ahmed Attiya (a different Ahmed) has been working on mending some of our large blue painted jars (similar to Winlock’s Type G). The KV-63 examples include some ten examples of blue-painted ceramics plus some red slipware (pottery). 

Botanist Dr. Ahmed Fahmy of Helwan University was with us at the start of the season to study KV-63’s botanical items (leaves, wood, flowers).  Salima Ikram was with us for several weeks and studied our collection of “unbaked clay trays.”  Winlock’s Corpus item “T” features several similar mud trays from KV-54, the well-known embalming cache of King Tutankhamun, In comparison with KV-54 we estimate that KV-63 possesses 40 or more similar mud trays.

Saied Hamed (from ARCE’s Karnak conservation lab) has been allowed to examine the tiny infant Coffin (D).  We hope the means can be found to remove the resin or lacquer, which now covers the exterior coffin.  Painted eyes, lips, etc. can be seen through the coating, and very likely the face is gilt (gold covered). Coffin D has now been registered (Reg. No. 40) and transported to Karnak where it awaits transfer to the Luxor Museum lab where Saied will begin the elaborate chemical process of removing the resin.

Coffin F will be examined some time this season.

Pia Rodriguez (who worked with us in 2006), Nieves Lopez and Elena de Gregorio of the Spanish Mission stopped by to visit. We also had the pleasure of meeting Ohioan tourists --- Terry, Dave, Uncle Tom and young Karli, who mummified her cat years ago. 

Newly arrived staff includes Photographer Archie Chubb (Canada) and Recorder Betty Schneider (Massachusetts).  In a few days, Brent Benjamin (Ohio) will join us.

More badein  …..

Mudir Schaden

19 January 2010

“Dig” Diary may not be the most suitable term for this season’s reports, for “Dig-less” is more fitting, as we are in “study season” mode  ---  there is no further “digging” necessary for KV-63 as of last season, even all of the storage jars have been cleared and examined.

On January 6-7, we had a small work crew led by Reis Nubi clean the floors and other things in KV-10, for the north wind brings much dust into the tomb all year long.  Every season begins with a cleaning and a general inspection. The inspection checks for any breaks, rock falls or changes in some of the crack monitors we still have in place in KV-10. For many years now, the KV-10 structure has been quite stable.

On January 8th, botanist Dr. Ahmed Fahmy (Helwan University) and Heather Alexander arrived. We had a trunk of botanical items set aside for Dr. Fahmy and so he was able to get started immediately.  Heather photographed all the materials.

The SCA Inspector assigned to us for the next couple months is Ayman Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil. Two SCA conservators joined us January 10th. Ahmed Baghdady (worked with us in 2006) and Mohammed Mahmoud arrived and began work on Coffin B.  Zaref Basili, who worked with us in 2009, came out yesterday.  Cracks in Coffin B’s facemask have been repaired and will be placed back into position on the lid of the coffin. Two large pieces of the lid have been cleaned of resin but there is no trace of paint or incised decoration, thus the intended owner of Coffin B will remain anonymous. It is very likely, the coffin was never finished.


On Saturday, the 16th, Maryann Marazzi was out and joined Salima and Heather in drawing up a new contents inventory for our tin sanduks (locker boxes). Today we collected all the unbaked clay (mud) trays and fragments for mending, and will create a tally of their numbers. Such trays (40 or more) were common in the Tutankhamun embalming cache (KV-54) and it is anticipated that our count will be quite similar to ones found by Theodore Davis in KV-54


New staff member, artist Laurel Hackley arrived last night. Later, we hope artist Sue Osgood of Chicago House will be able to join us to sketch Coffin C. Several of our usual staff will begin arriving in early February.


Mudir Schaden 

***From the KV-63 Staff….Congratulations to our archaeologist Alistair on his recent engagement to Thia.