The American Research Center in Eygpt



A composite map of Q05, showing the boundaries of the debris (red outline), the outlines of structures (yellow), and known tomb locations, including TT 100 (tomb of Rekhmira).

Updated: November 2013

Clearance work on section Q05 began in November 2012 and ended that December. It was located south of the pathway leading to, and not far from, the tomb of Rekhmira. Seven distinctive archaeological structures were identified, numbered 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, and 107. All of these structures were built directly within the courtyards of the area’s ancient tombs, reusing the ancient structures as part of the modern structures.

A portion of wall that formed part of the Snake Motel. Construction of the motel adapted the ancient forecourt of TT 385. Behind this modern wall still lie Ramesside bricks, stamped with the name of Ramesses II.

Until its demolition, structure 101 was well-known to Qurna visitors and residents as the Snake Motel. It was owned by Mohamed Abd es Salam, and constructed directly into the ancient forecourt of TT 385, a Ramesside tomb built for a man named Hunefer.

A fallen mud brick, stamped with the name of a Pharaoh, which formed part of the ancient enclosure wall of TT 385.

The ancient bricks of the forecourt, some of which are stamped with the name of Ramesses II inside a cartouche, are still visible behind the modern bricks used to modify the space for the motel. The Snake Motel was the largest and grandest building in the area, with in-situ evidence of multiple habitable areas across at least two levels of construction, reinforced concrete columns, cemented foundations, and tiled floors. A red brick and cement W.C. was also found, the waste water of which clearly drained into nearby tomb K 547. Heavy machinery was used to demolish these structures, as evidenced by large treads on the site, and gouge marks in the standing walls. In some places, the machinery dug well below the structure’s floor level. Portions of the standing remains of this structure had been painted bright white and blue, and stood out prominently from the surrounding landscape after the demolition. The local inspectorate (taftish), asked ARCE if something might be done to address this matter. As a result, ARCE used portions of the wall surface to test applications of heba, a sort of plaster made from natural local ingredients that would not damage the paint, and that could be removed for later investigation.

Structure 101, the Snake Motel: (l) after cleaning but before covering its painted surfaces with heba; (r) after covering its painted surfaces with heba.

The heba was colored to match the surrounding landscape and applied over the surface. The result was a new surface on the walls that both protected the original painted surface and helped the remains blend in with the landscape. After the success of this test, heba was applied to all visible painted surfaces throughout the ruined hamlets.

Part of structure 106, a W.C. that drained into tomb K 547.

In the same Q section was a compound, which includes structures 102, 105, 106, and 107, and which belonged to the Basily family, the only Christians who lived in Rasayla (this part of Qurna) before the displacement of the population to New Qurna. Structure 106 belonged to Fawzy Basily, and was built directly in front of K 547, the tomb used as a waste water receptacle by the Snake Motel. The drain of the motel's W.C., and that of structure 106, joined together into one gutter that ran into the tomb.

A card inviting the Qurna branch of the Christian Basily family to Cairo for a requiem mass.

Amongst the debris was found another personal reminder of the people that once lived here: an invitation card, from the Basily relatives in Cairo, inviting their Qurna family to share in the requiem mass of the deceased Afrahia Garas, in the Virgin Mary Church in Shobra el Khayma, on Monday 14 October 1985.

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