Polish Archaeological Expedition to North Asasif. The Asasif Project
Type of site:
UNESCO World Heritage List:
The necropolis is inscribed on the List together with ancient Thebes.
– Middle Kingdom
– Tombs were reused from the New Kingdom to the late Roman period
– Absolute dating: 2055–1773 BC
Most interesting finds:
– ruins of a small chapel in the lower part of the courtyard of the mortuary complex of Horhotep (TT 314); the chapel’s furnishings were found in the fill
– fragments of a decorated limestone sarcophagus of Cheti (tomb TT 311)
– fragments of a coffin of Cheti with preserved fragments of Coffin Texts (tomb TT 311)
– clay trays from the Middle Kingdom – a rich assemblage of trays of various forms and shapes was discovered in almost all the tombs
– masonry tools from the Middle Kingdom, mostly limestone hammers
– foundation deposits from the 11th dynasty, including a miniature copper chisel and a travertine vessel (tomb MMA 509)
– richly-decorated cartonnages from the 22nd dynasty, mostly with depictions of gods of the underworld and deceased persons
– deposit of clay cones from the Middle Kingdom
History of research:
Dates of PCMA mission’s work:
Type of research:
Survey, conservation, documentation
Patryk Chudzik (2013–2019)
Anastasiia Stupko-Lubczyńska (2020– )
– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– University of Wrocław (2013–2016)
– Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)
Earlier research was conducted by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) in 1883 under the direction of Gaston Maspero. In the years 1922–1925 and 1925–1927, excavations were carried out by Herbert E. Winlock (a project of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Supreme Council of Antiquities). In 2010–2012, Chloe Ragazzoli conducted research under the auspices of Institut français d’archéologie orientale. Initially, the PCMA UW project was realized under the auspices of the Polish-Egyptian Archaeological and Conservation Mission at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari.
Description of the site and research:
The project aims to document mortuary complexes from the Middle Kingdom and study their reuse in later times, including architectural changes (Figs 1, 3, 5, 8, 10). Its first stage focuses on documenting the architecture as well as collecting and preserving movable objects found in the courtyards. The study of different groups of finds has been carried out since the first season of work. In the 2014/2015 season, the team started conservation work in the grave chamber of Cheti (TT 311) (Figs 7, 9) and undertook the reconstruction of the decorated walls of the entrance corridor and the limestone sarcophagus.
The research concentrates on the North Asasif necropolis (West Thebes) (Fig. 2), located near the temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari. During the Middle Kingdom (2055–1773 BC), the most important Egyptian dignitaries (ministers) of the 11th and 12th dynasty were buried there in large grave complexes. The team explores both the interiors of the tombs (corridors and chambers extending at times 30 m into the mountain) and the courtyards on the rocky slopes. The project encompasses excavation, architectural, documentation and conservation works, as well as studies of different groups of finds (Figs 4, 6, 11–18).
Information about the research:
Season by season – “PCMA Newsletter”:
2021-02 Lecture in RC Cairo: Latest discoveries in Asasif
2016-10 Exhibition “Secrets of Egyptian tombs” (Wrocław)
18 December 2016, Archaeological Museum in Wrocław
Lecture: Secrets of Egyptian tombs – lecture accompanying the exhibition under the same title
13 January 2016, Institute of Archaeology, University of Wrocław
Lecture: Secrets of Egyptian tombs
27 May 2014, Archaeological Museum in Poznań
Lecture: Recent discoveries of Polish archaeologists in the Asasif necropolis in Egypt
17 May 2014, Oratorium Marianum, University of Wrocław
Lecture: Recent discoveries of Polish archaeologists in Egypt
Chudzik, P., & Iwaszczuk, U. (2022). “A Crocodile Spirit, Crocodile-Faced”: Discovery of Crocodile Remains in the Early Middle Kingdom Tombs of the North Asasif Necropolis in Western Thebes (Egypt), Journal of African Archaeology. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/21915784-bja10016
Chudzik, P. (2020). Middle Kingdom tombs from the North Asasif cemetery: field seasons 2018/2019 and 2020, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 29/2, 167–192.
Campbell, R. (2020). The human remains from tomb MMA 514 in North Asasif, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 29/2, 193–206.
Stupko-Lubczynska, A. (2020). Decorated burial chamber of Meru (TT 240 in Asasif): some remarks on the layout, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 29/2, 207–220.
Campbell, R. A. (2019). Human remains from the Tomb of Khety (MMA 508/TT 311) in North Asasif, Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 28/2, 157–173. DOI: 10.31338/uw.2083-537X.pam28.2.10
Chudzik, P. & Caban, M. (2017). Observations on the Architecture of the Tomb of Horhotep in Western Thebes, Études et Travaux, 30, 331–339.
Chudzik, P. (2016). Tajemnice egipskich grobowców/ Secrets of Egyptian tombs, Wrocław.
Chudzik, P. (2016). A unique royal mortuary temple and exceptional private complexes. The architecture of the Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II monument reflected in the funerary structures of high officials at Thebes. In M. Ullmann (Ed.), 10. Ägyptologische Tempeltagung: Ägyptische Tempel zwischen Normierung und Individualität. München, 29.31. August 2014, Wiesbaden: 71–80.
Select literature about earlier research:
Winlock, H.E. (1942). Excavations at Deir el Bahri, 1911–1931 (pp. 68–83, 122–131). New York: The Macmillan Company.
Capart, J. (ed.) (1936). Travels in Egypt (December 1880 to May 1881). Letters of Charles Edwin Wilbour. Brooklyn.
Winlock, H.E. (1928). The Egyptian Expedition 1925–1927: The Museum’s excavations at Thebes. Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum Art, 23(2), 11–18.
Winlock, H.E. (1923). The Museum’s excavations at Thebes. In the Egyptian Expedition, 1922–1923. Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 24(2), 11–22.
Winlock, H.E. (1922). Excavations at Thebes. In the Egyptian Expedition, 1921–1922. Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 17(2), 32–49.
Maspero, G. (1906). Guide to the Cairo Museum. Cairo.
Maspero, G. (1889) Trois années de fouilles dans les tombeaux de Thèbes et de Memphis. MIFAO, 1, 133–242.