IE University uses latest generation technologies in the Monthemhat excavation

14/03/2011 - General

IE University is playing an active role in the fourth excavation campaign at the Monthemhat burial site in el-Assasif, Luxor, Egypt. Monthemhat was Governor of High Egypt (670-648 BC) and the fourth Prophet of Amon, and his mummified remains lie somewhere in one of the largest and most complex burial sites in Western Thebes, Egypt. IE University researchers are working with experts from Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities, under the supervision of Dr. Farouk Gomaà from Tübingen University, to pinpoint the exact location of the mummy, which has survived attacks by tomb raiders over the centuries and resisted to date the attempts of archaeological expeditions to find it. Archaeological studies and fieldwork at the site are being led by IE University professor Emilio Illarregui.  


The team is using a latest generation geo-radar to reveal hidden items and buried chambers. Coupled with tomographs, 3D scanners and radiodiagnostic aparatus, the radar is playing a major role in advancing this fourth excavation campaign. The geo-radar findings published yesterday in Madrid are positive and augur well for key discoveries over the next two weeks.


The excavations of the burial site of Monthemhat, also known as the King of Thebaid, have brought to light several important discoveries, including the sarcophagus of Nesptah, one of his sons. Researchers have also revealed that raiders had already found the remains of this wife. Monthemhat’s mummy has so far eluded archaeologists, who believe it may be buried under the actual burial site. The fact that the site comprises a total of fifty seven chambers constructed around two impressive courtyards serves to evidence the power held by the governor. “The tomb is more like that of a pharaoh than a high ranking civil servant”, says Professor Illarregui. “Each discovery is a step forward in piecing together our knowledge of a crucial period of Ancient Egyptian History.”


The archaeologists gained access to the underground chambers through 15 meter-deep wells and an intricate labyrinth where the lack of oxygen and colonies of bats hindered progress. The use of latest generation technologies to find underground chambers is key to advancing this fourth edition of excavations. A team comprising several MDs, a radiologist and a biologist are using a latest generation X-ray device, courtesy of Philips, to obtain X-rays of 40 mummies found in the tomb. Scientists are also creating a tri-dimensional reconstruction of the burial site using a 3D scanner, enabling a highly detailed virtual image of the site which will permit the analysis of the burial chambers from thousands of miles away.  


The project is financed by IE University, the Bonastre Foundation and Universidad Internacional SEK.


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