For the past 30 years, the University Museum has conducted excavations and surveys at the site of Abydos, an important town site, cemetery, and cult center for the worship of Osiris. Excavations have revealed important information about the Archaic period (3000-2625 B.C.), including the discovery of royal boat pits and the enclosure of King Khasekhemwy.
For the past 30 years, the University Museum has conducted excavations and surveys at the site of Abydos, an important town site, cemetery, and cult center for the worship of Osiris. Excavations have revealed important information about the Archaic period (3000-2625 B.C.), including the discovery of royal boat pits and the enclosure of King Khasekhemwy. Continuing projects include that of Josef Wegner at the mortuary complex and adjacent town site of Pharaoh Senwosret III (1878-1841 B.C.) and Mary Ann Pouls' excavations in the Middle Kingdom cenotaph zone, which have also uncovered a small temple of Tuthmosis III (1479-1458 B.C.).
Excavation of the newly discovered temple of Thutmose III formed an important component of the archaeological research that the North Abydos project carried out in the spring of 1997. A small Eighteenth Dynasty structure was discovered in the course of the previous season of fieldwork, and continued excavation of the site has focused on articulating the unusual architectural plan of the temple, and recording the numerous fragments of beautifully carved and painted scenes and texts which once covered its limestone walls. This research will ultimately enable the program of the temple's relief decoration to be reconstructed, and will clarify its function within the larger context of the cult of Osiris at Abydos.
In 1994 Josef Wegner (now Associate Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Associate Curator, Egyptian Section, University Museum) re-excavated and re-studied a severely damaged temple complex built for pharaoh Senwosret III (1878 - 1841 B.C.), with important results. The temple proper had been entirely removed in antiquity, but the new excavations located part of its outline, scratched by builders on the stone platform upon which the temple had stood. Most important of all, hundreds of decorated fragments, reflecting the temple's function and overlooked earlier, were also recovered.
Dr. Wegner has also conducted more recent excavations at South Abydos. In 2002 magnetic resonance mapping was completed in and around the current excavation site of the mortuary complex and town of Senwosret III. The results of the magnetic survey were positive, and allowed for the identification of two important structures near the town of Senwosret III: 1) a likely administrative building which may have been the center for the local mayoral administration of the town and cult foundation of Senwosret III, and 2) a silo complex which appears to be part of the agricultural storage facilities of the town. In 2003 excavations yielded a mastaba-tomb that may be belong to a king of the 13th dynasty. This tomb includes a massive sarcophagus and burial chamber set within a superstructure of brick. Objects recovered included pieces of painted and gilded plaster that may derive from parts of the burial equipment and elegantly made alabaster vessels. The architecture and objects indicate the possible burial site for a pharaoh of early Dynasty 13 (ca. 1800 B.C.), but future work is required to make a positive identification of the tomb owner.
In an area today called "South Abydos" are remains of a tomb complex built during Egypt's Middle Kingdom by the 12th Dynasty king Khakaure-Senwosret (also called Sesostris III), who reigned ca. 1880–1850 BCE. Making use of the desert landscape, royal architects built an underground tomb for the pharaoh at the foot of the desert cliffs. Associated with this tomb was a mortuary temple and a town site, both built to maintain the afterlife cult of pharaoh Senwosret III. Anciently named Enduring-are-the-Places-of-Khakaure-true-of-voice-in-Abydos, the ruins of this expansive site offer considerable evidence on society and culture during Egypt's Middle Kingdom. Penn Museum excavations are ongoing (as part of the combined University of Pennsylvania-Yale-Institute of Fine Arts/New York University Expedition to Abydos). This work has concentrating on three principal areas: (1) the subterranean tomb of pharaoh Senwosret III; (2) the mortuary temple and associated structures dedicated to the cult of Senwosret III; and (3) the urban remains of the Middle Kingdom town at South Abydos.