A composite map of Q 14, showing the boundaries of the debris (red outline), the outlines of structures (yellow), and known tomb locations, including the tomb of Nakht (TT 52).
Updated: November 2013
Section Q14 lay immediately beside the famous tomb of Nakht (TT 52) and once contained the house of renowned nineteenth-century explorer and collector Giovanni d’Athannasi (known as Yanni). Yanni lived in, and explored, Qurna, amassing collections for the British Consul in Egypt, Henry Salt. His house was supposedly the first free-standing, above-ground dwelling built in the area. Q14 was cleared and recorded by ARCE’s project archaeologists between December 2012 and February 2013. Two MSA inspectors were assigned by the local inspectorate (taftish) to supervise the work, and both were later able to participate in ARCE’s 2013 Preparatory Archaeological Field School in the forecourt of TT 110.
Q14 appears to contain a lower density of visible remains than other sections. This might partly be due to ARCE’s restraint on clearing material, so that structures buried at a significant depth might continue to be protected. It is also most likely due to the apparently spread out nature of the section’s buildings. The remains within Q14 were divided into five distinct structures, numbered 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14, with structure 11 being the best candidate for what remains of Yanni’s house.
Prior to its demolition, structure 10 would have sat imposingly behind and above the entrance to the tomb of Nakht (TT 52). The remains comprise standard mud brick construction, a large cement floor (a material supposedly banned for use in Qurna by the government), and an area comprising prolonged dung and straw deposition, clear evidence of animal habitation in close proximity to the building. The remains of a long bench (a mastaba) built against a series of rooms at the structure’s south end were also identified. Its presence, along with the size of structure 10, suggests that this might have been a meeting place within the buildings of Q14.
Structure 11, a portion of which might possibly have been Yanni’s house, is composed of several wall and floor deposits built upon an outcrop of bedrock. These deposits present a substantial presence within Q14. The structural remains show painted walls made of both traditional and modern materials. Finds from the structure and its surrounding area included both ancient and modern shabti figures, an ancient canopic jar lid, an infant human mandible, and a roll of sketches of paper depicting the modern Qurnawi structures. The nature of the structure’s demolition gives keen insight into the impact that the local population had upon the area.
In one area, heavy machinery used to knock the building down presented a telling archaeological cross-section, created by the machinery during demolition. Within this section, we can clearly see the remains of two overlapping floor deposits, under which protrudes a buried plastic pipe. To the left of the visible pipe is a long thick line of grey pebbles, starkly visible against the brown deposits above and below it. This grey line indicates where the Qurnawi dug into the landscape to lay the pipe, which serviced a W.C. and drained into a nearby tomb.
Structure 14, although the smallest visible structure in the area, elicited an emotionally charged description from its 56 year-old former resident, Said Ahmed Mohamed Abd el Based. Said lived in structure 14 with his wife, mother-in-law, and 7 children. He recounted how the building’s rooms were used, and that the family’s main income was from selling their souvenirs from their prime location on the path to the tomb of Menna (TT 69).
In addition, he explained that his extended family also worked on farms, worked stone, and that one cousin even worked as a mechanic for the MSA. He told the story of a united community: his brother living in part of nearby structure 10; his cousin in an unidentified house to the south. They would gather together for meals, each bringing a different dish in what he called a “presentation to the gods”.