Egyptology | Life Histories of Theban Tombs

Swiss Mission at Sheikh 'Abd el-Qurna

Research Background

The spacious tombs, cut into the living rock of Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna, were considered ideal places either for the dead or for the living depending on the period of their use. A sheer number of scholarly work has been dedicated to New Kingdom Theban tombs as a source of historical data or social, religious, and cultural perceptions, mainly on the basis of their carved or painted wall decoration. LHTT is also investigating visual conceptions reflected in tomb architecture and tomb decoration, with a preference for their distinctive features. The study of individual building procedures and of the factors involved in construction makes another substantial part of our research; it pays much attention to its technological and artistic side. Owing to the cemetery’s long history of looting, there are still many questions open concerning the arrangement and composition of burial assemblages or the funerary practices accompanying a burial at different times. Two late use phases left an equally strong imprint on the materiality of the tomb cluster: their inhabitation by Coptic monks during the late Xth century and their occupancy and exploitation by local families during the 19th-20th century.