Upper Part of Sitkheperka, Daughter of Djehutihotep, Watercolor by Marcus W. Blackden ca 1891, Dayr al-Barsha

Apr 30, 2021

"When reproducing an ancient art, let us, by all means, be accurate, and employ every kind of mechanical aid to obtain that objective; but let that mechanical aid be our assistant, not our master." - Howard Carter.

We want to present the unique documentation challenges proposed by an exquisitely decorated and quite famous Egyptian tomb in our second project campaign. Starting in 2017, a team of KU Leuven (Belgium) has initiated a new epigraphic recording of the Middle Kingdom tomb of Djehutihotep at Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt. Djehutihotep was a provincial governor of the 15th Upper Egyptian Nome, in office during Senwosret II–III reigns. His rock-cut tomb chapel high on the north hill contains some of the finest Middle Kingdom decoration in paint and relief, which has, however, suffered fairly severe damage by later quarrying activity, earthquakes, and vandalism.

Its exquisite decoration, and the presence of the unusual scene in which a colossal alabaster statue of the governor is transported on a sled, attracted the attention of early epigraphers. In the winter of 1891–1892, a team of the Egypt Exploration Fund made a first recording under the direction of Percy Newberry. His draughtsmen were a young 17-year old Howard Carter and Marcus Blackden, and their 1894 publication remains the standard reference work for this tomb.

However, while the work of Newberry’s team is praiseworthy for the quality achieved in a minimal amount of time, it contains many errors and lacunae, and the large overview drawings do not do justice to the fine details and subtle use of color in the tomb.

Cover: watercolor by M. W. Blackden, ca 1891 © The Griffith Institute, University of Oxford. All rights reserved.

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