Spanish-Egyptian Mission in South-West Saqqara

The main objective of the Spanish-Egyptian Mission in South-West Saqqara is the clearing and excavating of the site of Kom el-Khamaseen, located in the archaeological area of Saqqara, one of the most emblematic in Egypt. Saqqara was a part of the great Memphite necropolis, that is to say, the set of cemeteries located west to the city of Memphis, Egypt’s capital during the Old Kingdom. There, most of the kings of this period were buried in their pyramids, and a lot of high court officials were interred in their graves. The particularity of Kom el-Khamaseen (and one of the issues that needs to be elucidated) is its strange location, deep into the dessert, much further west than any other site of the Memphite necropolis. This location, which leaves it unprotect, was the cause of its violent looting by robbers in 1999.

Location of the Kom el-Khamaseen Site

The Mission has been constituted at the beginning of this year 2019, following the approval by the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. The concessions covers the site of Kom el-Khamaseen and a large area surrounding it, about 6 x 4 km.

Concession area

The data provided by the clearing and excavation of the site, with the recovery of materials and inscriptions that they will entail, will be added to the data we already have as a result of the studies carried out by us of the inscribed material recovered at the site after the looting of 1999 by the Saqqara Inspectorate, as well as the pieces (block fragments of limestone and inscribed statuettes) discovered in art and archaeology galleries around the world and coming from the same looting. A part of this material and these pieces has already been preliminarily published by us. The work of the Mission will make it possible, therefore, to complete and integrate all the information about Kon el-Khamaseen and to prepare the study and final publication of the site, with the interesting historical problems it raises.

It is, in fact, one of the few Egyptian necropolises dating to the end of the Old Kingdom and the beginning of the First Intermediate Period, that is to say, the moment when a centralized State fell and disintegrated for the first time in both, Egypt’s and world history, an event that seems to have affected the location of the site as well as the religious and administrative careers of some of the high dignitaries buried there, as the inscriptions already known and studied reveal to us.

Another Objective of the Mission is the systematic survey of the entire area surrounding the site of Kom el-Khamaseen, in order to record other possible archaeological sites and remains. In fact, the 2019 season has been devoted to this task, and a total of 6 sites, dating from the Paleolithic to the Bizantine Period, and 6 localities with scattered archaeological remains, all of them unknown until now, have been actually discovered, surveyed and mapped. The most important of these new sites will be excavated in coming seasons.

Finally, another objective of the Mision is the preparation of topographic plans and maps of the archaeological sites studied and the area covered by the concession.

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