Sandro Vannini’s Photography – Archaeologists in the Theban Tomb of Montuemhat (TT34)

Egyptology photographer Sandro Vannini has been busy photographing tombs across Thebes for his new book “The Lost Tombs of Thebes:Lost in Paradise” and you can watch him at work in a Heritage Key video which also features Dr Zahi Hawass and Dr Janice Kamrin (Watch the video). During his photo-spree in this Ancient Egyptian city, Sandro took images of archaeologists hard at work at the site of TT34 – The Tomb of Montuemhat.

Described by the excavation lead Dr Farouk Gomaa as “one of the largest [tombs] in Thebes“, the University of Tbingen archaeologist and his team are searching for the sarcophagus of the diplomat Montuemhat. The work on TT34 initially began in 1941 by Zakaria Gomein, whose untimely death is recounted in a Heritage Key video with Dr Hawass (Watch the Video). A breakthrough was made by Dr Gomaa’s team in 1988 when they discovered the sarcophagus of Montuemhat’s son Nesptah the Younger.

Sandro Vannini’s Photography

Sandro Vannini has spent over a decade in Egypt capturing images of some of the greatest discoveries and treasures in history, such as the famous Golden Mask of King Tutankhamun. Heritage Key is working with Sandro to bring these stunning photographs to the internet, to spur the interest in our ancient past. To watch a slideshow of the photographs of the Tomb of Montuemhat, click any of the thumbnails below.

For his venture into TT34, Sandro used a Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n to photograph the archaeologists as they studied their finds, and worked to understand more about their discovery. These images are from the front line dig at this tomb, and along with the video, gives a fantastic insight into the work that goes into such archaeological excavations.

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The Tomb of Montuemhat (TT34)

Montuemhat was a powerful and influential figure in Ancient Egypt who’s authority and stature was sufficient enough to carve out such a substantial resting place for himself in the necropolis of the pharaohs. But he wasn’t an Egypt king – from around 660-648 BC was Mayor of Thebes, and a highly skilled and crafty diplomat. Egypt underwent some tumultuous changes during his time in office, as the last Nubian kings of the 25th Dynasty, Taharqa and Tantamani, were driven back into Nubia, first by the invading Assyrians, then by the first kings of the 26th Dynasty.

During these instabilities, Montuemhat was able to leverage himself into a position of power, and effectively took control of Upper Egypt, in no small part thanks to his wife Wedjarenes, who happened to be the grand-daughter of the Nubian king Piye. Although Montuemhat may have been of Nubian descent himself, historical records suggest he held power in Egypt after the Nubians left and right up until his death.

The TT34 tomb may originally have been constructed for Montuemhat’s father, Nesptah theElder (who also served as Mayor of Thebes), as construction would have started when Montuemhat was a young man. Inscriptions within the tomb give Montuemhat – who also held the title of the Fourth Priest of Amun – such honoured titles as eyes of the king in all the land, prince of the deserts and keeper of the gate of the deserts.

The tomb itself bears no mention of Montuemhat’s first two wives – Neskhonsu and Shepenmut, and there is no evidence that either wife is buried in the tomb. Instead, the inscriptions concentrate solely on Montuemhat’s Kushite wife Wedjarenes. It is believed that they may have married in Nubia, and that she may be the reason that Montuemhat was selected to be the Governor of Upper Egypt. Wedjarenes was the grand-daughter of the Nubian King Piye.

The excavations inside TT34 continue as Dr Farouk Gomaa and his team search for the burial chamber of Montuemhat. The tomb of Montuemhat, the shaft of Montuemhat, we have not found, explains Gomaa. We hope we can find it, he adds.

HD Video: Dr Farouk Gomaa’s Search for the Chamber of Mayor Montuemhat

(Click for a transcription of this video.)

You can see the entire archive of videos on Heritage Key’s Video Page, and find out the latest from excavations in Egypt. You can also learn more about Archaeology on Heritage Key, as well as being able to explore the wonders of the Virtual World in King Tut Virtual – walk through the Valley of the Kings and discover some of the most amazing artefacts in history! You can also keep up to date on the latest new postings of Sandro’s Photography by subscribing to the feed, simply by entering your Email Address!