Iufaa’s Tomb

The most interesting tomb in this week’s reading is the tomb of Iufaa, a lector priest and palace official in the 26th or 27th Dynasty.  This tomb was found at Abusir by a team of Czech archaeologists in the 1990s.  It is pretty obvious that Iufaa was an important man, thus the constructors of the tomb wanted to keep the burial safe from grave robbers.  The vaulted limestone roof of his tomb was located at the bottom of a vertical shaft that was filled with sand that is over twenty-one meters below the ground.  In addition to this main shaft, there were also two vertical subsidiary shafts that were also filled with sand that emptied into the main shaft.  It took the team of archaeologists three years to clear out all of the sand from the three shafts.  If grave robbers wanted to enter the tomb, they would have to remove several hundred cubic meters of sand from the main shaft, and that is just the main shaft!  Since the subsidiary shafts empty into the main shaft, the sand from those would have to be removed too, making it basically an impossible task.  Even if grave robbers were to get into the burial chamber, it would be very difficult to get into the actual tomb.  The chamber was made of limestone blocks, along with the lid to the sarcophagus that weighed twenty-four tons.  A large basalt anthropoid sarcophagus was under the limestone lid, and beneath that were the remains of a decayed wooden coffin.  When all of these cases were removed, a covering of thousands of faience beads were revealed.  It is clear that they were trying to keep thieves out of this grave.   This appears to be a grave of a very important person since they tried to keep robbers out with several techniques.  However, when the mummy was examined, it was not preserved very well.  Thankfully the fingers were still covered with gold foil, marking the priest’s importance.

2 thoughts on “Iufaa’s Tomb

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post this week, honestly I think I skipped over it while reading this week, however I think it is impressive that the builders of Iufaa’s tomb made extra shafts that were dead ends, made it out of heavy limestone blocks with the removal of sand a requirement of reaching the burial chamber, and making the sarcophagus’ lid to weigh tons; just to thwart grave robbers. It sort of shows the builders loyalty and this person must have had to be an important aspect of their society to safeguard him in this way. I think its sad that people are willing to destroy their own culture and society’s history, just because they are able to or because of greed; this still occurs today when substantial things or change happens in a society, they loot, damage, and destroy their own national treasures without thinking of the future implications of their actions. Even though the remains were badly damaged at least we learned of his importance, by the gold foil covering his hands. I think its odd that the hands and fingers were somewhat undamaged with gold still detectable on them, while the rest of the body sustained most of the damage; but it is still a great and significant discovery. Good Post!!

  2. I also thought the anti-grave-robbing techniques used in Iufaa’s tomb were very interesting. I thought that it was great that the Egyptians utilized a resource that was so incredibly vast in their area—sand—in order to foil would-be grave robbers. I wonder if there were prior occurrences of this same technique that were perhaps less involved and maybe less successful. It seems like there would be a lot of trial and error involved in such things. Was this a technique used in many other tombs afterward? It is also interesting that they moved back to pyramids from the tombs in cliffs that were used in the Valley of the Kings. I guess with such an elaborate foil for grave robbers in place, they didn’t have to worry so much about the tomb itself being easily defensible. Why was so much innovation used in making this tomb so impenetrable when the person inside was not as important as a pharaoh? I wonder if these sand-trap techniques were used by some of the people who were invading and migrating to Egypt at the time and brought with them along with other aspects of their cultures and technologies. It is interesting to think about.

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