Universitätsbibliothek HeidelbergUniversitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Quibell, James Edward
El Kab — London, 1898

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damp and full of salt that unpainted wooden coffins
may have disappeared without leaving any trace.
The same causes have doubtless removed the clothes
in which the dead were buried, for of these I saw no
trace. The most remarkable fact was the entire
absence of mummification, at least, of any effective
kind. In the ground near the good XVIIIth dynasty
tombs, mummies were found, perhaps the servants
of the great men of the inscribed tombs. There
seemed no great difference in the conditions to which
these mummies and the bodies of the XIIth dynasty
people had been exposed. Yet no trace of mummy-
cloth, dried skin, hair, or bitumen was ever met with
in the earlier cemetery. Nor in the early burials that
I opened at Ballas were any mummies found, and
certainly most of the mummies known belong to the
XVII Ith dynasty or later. Is it possible that mummi-
fication was confined to the upper classes until the
great increase of wealth in the XVIIIth dynasty led
to the wider adoption of the custom ?

Some of the later Neolithic bodies were, however,
dried, either by artificial means or by some property
of the soil, so that the whole body could be lifted out
without any of the limbs snapping off. It is reported
that the body of an engineer, who, not many years
ago, died and was buried at Assuan, and afterwards
exhumed to be sold as a mummy, was dried up in
this way.

A chamber generally contained more than one
body ; four was a not uncommon number, and in
one chamber eight persons, probably women, lay side
by side. This fact certainly agrees badly with the
idea just expressed of the absence of mummification.
The objects found in the graves were of well-known
types. Bottle-shaped vases at the head and feet,
alabaster kohl pots, kohl sticks of ivory, bronze
mirrors without handles, paint-slabs with their pestles
and spatulae of serpentine and basalt, with beads of
green glaze and various kinds of hard stone, were the
regular staple of our finds. And the date of these
was already well known from Kahun and other places ;
indeed the date of this cemetery could be seen at
once from the chips of pottery lying on the surface.
This conclusion was confirmed by the two private
stelae (PL. IV), and a cylinder of Amenemhat III,
found in one necklace. Inscriptions were extremely
rare ; there were few scarabs, and perhaps the most
interesting object was the plain alabaster statuette
(PL. V, 2), which was found close to the skull of its
owner. This was the only figure of the kind found in
the cemetery, and is probably the earliest dated

ushabti. It represents a mummy-shaped figure ; no
hands, hoe, or basket can be seen, but the face is
well executed.

The tombs were, of course, often robbed, how often,
it was difficult to decide, for the destruction caused by
the falling roof is very similar to that caused by early
robbery. But it was very seldom that a skull could
be preserved, or that the exact position of the bones
in the body could be worked out. There had been
very little re-use of the shafts ; in one occurred
pottery and a mirror of the XVIIIth dynasty, in
another a Roman lamp ; but these were excep-
tions ; it was purely a Middle Kingdom cemetery.

22. A fine collection of beads was obtained, chiefly
in hard stone. In one tomb alone (No. 156) I spent
most of two days trying to recover the order in which
the beads had been strung on the necklaces. Seven
people had been buried in one chamber of this tomb ;
a great mass of pebbles had fallen from the roof,
smashed the bones and pottery, and so scattered the
beads that some care was needed to keep together
those from one string. Some of the bodies were
adorned with necklace, bracelets, and anklets, and
had also a string of beads round the waist.

The commonest beads were spherical and barrel-
shaped, of carnelian, haematite, and amethyst, and
discs of shell, these last the commonest of all. In
green felspar there were small flat discs, hawks, and
hippopotamus heads. Sphinxes with human heads
are generally of amethyst. Uninscribed scarabs, in
carnelian, amethyst, and jasper, were not uncommon.



23. Singularly little is left in El Kab of any period
later than the Middle Kingdom, unless, indeed, the
great walls be of later date than we have supposed.
The broken pottery inside the town enclosure, that
is the south-west corner of the great square, seems to
be of various periods, but to contain a large quantity
of a fabric most like that of the XXVIth dynasty.
As Nectanebo rebuilt the temple here, it is natural to
suspect that this late pottery is of his reign or near it.
Masses of similar pottery are to be found thrown out
from several of the large tombs, in and behind the
hill of Paheri. These tombs are probably of the
XVIIIth dynasty, and were re-used for piles of poor
burials at the later date. Of poor burials of the
XVIIIth dynasty only two were found. These were