Excavations on the West Bank of Thebes (1911 and 1913)

Among the numerous excavations carried out between 1898 and 1914 on behalf of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin were also two seasons on the West Bank of Thebes which could be consideredas of experimental excavations.

Under the supervision of the German Egyptologist Georg Möller (1876-1921) various areas were excavated in Sheikh Abd del-Qurna from February, 11th to March, 12th 1911 and from February, 26th to March, 29th 1913 in Deir el-Medine. While ven though the main focus of the season of 1911 was on the building structures north of the so called “German House” as well as on a tomb from the Middle Kingdom (tomb 35); two years later nine additional areas were examined. As a result of the works and due to the customary share many interesting objects were added to the collection of the Berlin museum, i.e. numerous “Figured ostraca”, parts of the funeral inventory of tomb 35 as well as steles, jewelery, amulets, ceramic vessels and so forth. Möller quickly recognised that Deir el-Medine would be a very revealing and productive site.

Unfortunately Georg Möller did not have the opportunity to publish the results of his excavations because he died in 1921. In 1943 a first review on the material was given by the custos of the Egyptian Collection, Dr. Rudolf Anthes (1896-1985). Based on the documents left he was able to convey a vivid insight of the excavations and published the most important scientific results. 
Since this publication nearly 75 years have passed and both sites have repeatedly been the subject of research with regard to different scientific aspects.

After the end of World War I French archaeologists under the leadership of Bernard Bruyère (1879-1971) worked from 1922-1940 and 1945-1951 systematically in the former area of ​​the digging concession of Möller and investigated Deir el-Medine systematically. The investigations were continued in the following years by different scientists and institutions.

Since then numerous of scientific and popular scientific publications focused on the ancient site, on the people that lived here and their tombs.

Nevertheless it is essential to involve the results produced by Möller and presented by Anthes into the current research and to challenge former knowledge because of various new scientific issues and methods.

With this claim a comprehensive reconstruction of the two excavation seasons of 1911 and 1913 is taking place under today's scientific standards. The reappraisal focusses on approximately 700 artefacts from the Egyptian collection.

Not included are numerous inscribed ostraca which have already been evaluated some time ago.

Many of the objects from the excavations in Sheikh Abd del-Qurna and Deir el-Medine which have been identified so far are among the losses of World War II. In addition to the archaeological finds or the pieces which are only available by consulting historical photographs, different archival materials (excavation diaries, find lists, sketches, and so forth) are included into the evaluation.

At the end of the project the results will be presented in a final publication. In it the existing and lost objects will be discussed and mapped. In addition there is a special exhibition planned to present the results to a broad audience.

Project participants: Prof. Dr. Friederike Seyfried (Egyptologist / Director of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection); D. Ph. Klaus Finneiser (Egyptologist / Curator), Dr. Jana Helmbold-Doyé (Egyptologist / Curator), PD Dr. Jan Moje (Egyptologis / Department of Egyptology, Freie Universität Berlin) and Dr. habil. Daniel Polz (Egyptololgist / Wissenschaftlicher Direktor des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Kairo)
Promoter: State Museums of Berlin, Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection. Part-financing by the Friends of the Egyptian Museum Berlin e.V.
Running time: July 2018 to December 2020