2023 – Sixth season of excavation

2023 – Sixth season of excavation

The excavations in the Petosiris Necropolis of Tuna el-Gebel continued in autumn 2023.



Inspector of the excavation: Randa Abdel Raheem and Mohammed Khalil Mohammed

Inspector of the magazine: Saber Mohammed Ali

Inspector of the restoration of architecture: Ramadan Gomaa

Project leader of the restoration of architecture: Tarek El-Sanadiki

Special thanks go to our inspectors Randa Abdel Raheem, Mohammed Khalil Mohammed and Saber Mohammed Ali for their kind cooperation.

Members of the mission: Prof. Dr. Katja Lembke (field director, archaeologist), Dr. Jenny Schlehofer (assistant field director, archaeologist), Dr. Sayed Abdel Malik (egyptologist), Aliaa Diaa Abd El Gawad (archaeologist), Rania Diaa Abd el Gawad (archaeologist), Dr. Vicente Barba Colmenero (ceramologist), Thea Schuck (restorer), Harald Stümpel (geophysicist), Ercan Erkul (geophysicist), Simon Fischer (geophysicist), Erman Lu (geophysicist), Patrick Wittmeier (anthropologist), Sarah Nöcker (anthropologist), Rex Haberland (land surveyor), Finn Horstmann (land surveyor), Katharina Westphalen (architect)

Workers: Abdelaziz Ateya, Tarek Fatih, Bassem Fatih, Ibrahim Omar, Shehata Abdelaziz, Walid Salah, Ahmed Abdelati, Walid Shehata, Nour ed-Din, Salah Mohammed, Mohammed Mostafa, Walid Haiba, Kharib Mohamed



This season, the excavations focused on three areas:

  • The tomb buildings GB 84–86,
  • the tomb building GB 87, and
  • a shaft tomb.

GB 84

Tomb building GB 84 is built of unburned mudbricks, has two rooms and a front hall with a painted decoration. Unfortunately, this tomb was already plundered. Although we did not find much pottery or other objects, we date the tomb to the 2nd century CE because of its decoration.

Figure: Tomb house GB 84 from the west.

GB 85-86

The tomb buildings GB 85 and 86 are the neighbours of GB 84. In both cases the main burial place is highlighted with a painted decoration. According to the architecture the three tombs belong to almost the same period.

GB 87

The tomb building GB 87 is situated a few meters north of the shaft tomb SG 1 and west of the tomb house GB 84. It has three rooms and a large front hall with four columns. Originally, the walls of the rooms were whitewashed, in a later period, however, the front hall and the second room were decorated with painted imitations of precious stones. The building was in use for a long period from the 1st century CE until Late Antiquity. Inside this building we discovered many burials that will be studied by anthropologists in the next season.

Figure: The tomb building GB 87 from north-west.

Shaft tomb SG 1

At the top of the shaft tomb SG 1, we discovered a large block of limestone that was fallen inside the shaft. Entering the underground tomb chambers in a depth of about 6 m, we found them in a bad condition. Obviously, people entered the tomb a long time ago in search of precious objects. They left but a few objects of archaeological interest.

Figure: Shaft grave SG 1 during the excavation.

Study of the pottery

In addition to the excavation our specialists cleaned and examined the pottery as well as reconstructed some of the vessels. Especially the dating and the determination of the function of the pottery are very important for the final analysis and interpretation of the tombs and the burial customs.

Figure: Cleaning and sorting the pottery found during the excavations.

Analysis of the human remains

The anthropologists analysed the human remains. Through morphological examination of the remains, information about the buried individuals such as the biological sex, the age at death and possible pathologies can be retrieved.

Figure: The anthropologists at work.

Restoration of archaeological finds

The restorer did the restoration and cleaning of the small archaeological finds.

Figure: The restorer at work.

Restoration of architecture

This year we were asked by the Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism to restore the staircase of GB 48 (T 1/CP) excavated by Sami Gabra in 1931/1932. Approximately 90 years after the first restoration during the auspices of Sami Gabra the staircase started to collapse.

The team was headed by the architect Tarek El-Sanadiki and the inspector for restoration Ramadan Gomaa. The builder Mohammed Mostafa and the workers Abdelaziz Ateya, Walid Haiba and Kharib Mohamed did a very good job and we thank them for their effort.

Figure: Situation of the staircase of GB 48 (T 1/CP) during the restoration.

Documentation of the architecture

The architect and the land surveyors examined and documented the architecture of the newly discovered buildings and the shaft grave in 2D and 3D.

Figure: The land surveyor taking measurements.


The geophysicists surveyed the area of the necropolis by ground-penetrating-radar (GPR). GPR-measurements are used to map building structures and distinguish tomb houses from living quarters. As a depth resolution of mapped building structures is possible with GPR measurements one aim was to identify multiple levels and the lowest level of the buildings.

Figure: The geophysicists at work.

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