The Bab el-Gasus Cache

The Bab el-Gasus Cache (the Gate of the Priests) is the modern name given to the collective tomb of the priests and priestesses of Amun located in the Theban necropolis. This collective tomb held the burials of 153 priests and priestesses of Amun who lived under the 21st Dynasty (ca. 1069-945 BC).

Discovered in 1891 at Deir el-Bahari in the area next to the first courtyard of the temple of Hatshepsut, the door of the tomb was opened on the 4th of February and Eugéne Grébaut and Georges Daressy unearthed a vast hoard of funerary equipment within its galleries consisting of more than two hundred coffins, nearly a hundred scrolls of papyri, 110 boxes filled with ushabtis, 80 statuettes, various inscribed stelae, along with many other artefacts

A selection of the Bab el-Gasus coffins was retained for the Giza Museum and the rest of the objects were divided into 17 lots and in 1893 they were sent by Abbas II Hilmy, the Khedive of Egypt, as his gift to several countries involved in diplomatic operations with.

Nevertheless, the coffins were subsequently reallocated and today at least 35 museums are known to house objects from the Bab el-Gasus Cache.

Numerous studies on the story of the Bab el-Gasus Cache, the objects it contained, and their subsequent dispersal around the world are currently in progress as part of the International Project The Vatican Coffin Project and The Gates of the Priests.

 

Essential Bibliography

  • Amenta, Alessia, and Hélène Guichard, eds. Proceedings First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013. Edizioni Musei Vaticani. Voll. I-II. Città del Vaticano, 2017.
  • Aston, David A. ‘“The Third Cache”: Myth or Reality?’ In A True Scribe of Abydos : Essays on First Millennium Egypt in Honour of Anthony Leahy, edited by Claus Jurman, Bettina Bader, and David A. Aston, 1–26. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 265. Leuven: Peeters, 2017.
  • Daressy, Georges. “Les sépultures des prêtres d’Ammon à Deir el-Bahari”, Annales du Service des antiquités de l’Égypte 1 (1900): 141-48.
  • Sousa, Rogério, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney. Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the priests of Amun. Antico Egitto 4. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.

The Foreign Lots

Lot I France

The lot that arrived in France was scattered to several museums in the country.

Near the bigger group of artifacts stored by the Musée du Louvre, other objects from Bab el-Gasus Cache have been identified in Musée Bargoin in Clemont-FerrandChâteau de Boulogne-sur-Mer, Musée de PicardieMusée d'archéologie méditerranéenne in Marseille.

 

References

  • Dautant, Alain, and Alessia Amenta. ‘The Coffins of Djedmut, Nurse of Khonsu the Child (Vatican, La Rochelle and Padua Museums)’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, I:113–22. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Dautant, Alain, and France Jamen. ‘Inventory of the 21st/22nd Dynasties “yellow Coffins” in French Museums’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, I:129–36. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Dautant, Alain, Miguel Escobar, and France Jamen. ‘Distribution and Current Location of the French Lot from Bab El-Gasus Cache’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, I:123–28. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Niwiński, Andrzej.Catalogue des cercueils à fond jaune de la 21ème au début de la 22éme dynastie. Paris: Musée du Louvre. (forthcoming).
  • Rigault Patricia.  'The constitution of the collection of 21st Dynasty coffins of the Egyptian department of the Louvre Museum'- In Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the priests of Amun, edited by Sousa, R., Amenta, A. and Cooney, K.M.: 395-408. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider (Antico Egitto, 4), 2021.
  • Sousa, R., Amenta, A. and Cooney, K.M. (eds) Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the priests of Amun. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider (Antico Egitto, 4), 2021.

Lot II Austria

The second Lot arrived in Austria. It is composed of a rich collection of ushabtis and coffins, it is nowadays stored in the  Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. 

References

  • Haag, Sabine and Regina HölzlEin Ägyptisches Puzzle: Die Restaurierung des Sargdeckels der But-har-chonsu. Wien: Kunsthistorisches Museum. 2015
  • Reiser-Haslauer, ElfriedeUschebti . Vol. I. Corpus Antiquitatum Aegyptiacarum, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien 5. Mainz:Philipp von Zabern.1990
  • Reiser-Haslauer, ElfriedeUschebti . Vol. II. Corpus Antiquitatum Aegyptiacarum, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien 5. Mainz:Philipp von Zabern.1992

Lot III Turkey

According to Jean-Vincent Scheil’s list, Lot III  was sent to Turkey (Archaeological Museum in Istanbul) and consists of four coffins, three ushebtis boxes and six ushabtis

 

References

  • Ataşcioğlu Aykul, Hülya, M. Baha Tanman, and Miguel Ángel Escobar-Clarós. ‘A Note on the TurkishLot III / 1891 from the Bab El-Gasus Cache (Egypt) Kept at the Intambul Archaeology Museums / Ancient Orient Museum’. Anatolia Antiqua XXVII, 2019, 145–51.
  • Scheil, Jean-Vincent. Monuments égyptiens: notice sommaire / Musée impérial ottoman, Constantinople, F. Lœffer, 1898.

 

Lot IV The United Kingdom

Lot IV was sent to the United Kingdom and is now held in the British Museum in London. The large group of objects is still in publishing. 

 

References

  • Cooney, Kathlyn M. ‘Coffin Reuse in Dynasty 21: A Case Study of the Coffins in the British Museum’. Edited by John H. Taylor and Marie Vandenbeusch. Ancient Egyptian Coffins: Craft Traditions and Functionality, British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 4, 2018, 295–322.

Lot V Italy

The only Lot sent to Italy is still held by the "Museo Egizio" di Firenze.

 

References

  • Sousa, Rogério. ‘Examining the Design, Style and Layout of the Inner Coffin from A.60 in the Florence Egyptian Museum’. Cadmo - Revista de História Antiga, 1 January 2017, 57–79.
  • Sousa, Rogério, ed. The Tomb of the Priests of Amun: Burial Assemblages in the Egyptian Museum of Florence. Vol. I. Gate of the Priests Series. Brill, 2018.

Lot VI Russia

The objects from Lot VI sent to Russia in 1893 were then distributed to several museums in Soviet Federation between 1893-1895.  

 

References

  • Berlev, Olag, and Svetlana Hodjash. Catalogue of the Monuments of Ancient Egypt from the Museums of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Bielorussia, Caucasus, Middle Asia and the Baltic States. Göttingen, 1998.
  • Bolshakov, Vladimir. ‘Burial Ensemble of Ankhef in the Collection of the Ivanovo Regional Art Museum (Russia)’. In “Yellow” Coffins from Thebes: Recording and Decoding Complexity in Egyptian Funerary Arts (21st – 22nd Dynasties), edited by Rogério Sousa, 145–82. BAR Publishing, 2020.
  • Bolshakov, Vladimir. ‘Inner Coffin of Nesitaudjatakhet from the Collection of the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan (Kazan)’. In Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the Priests of Amun, edited by Rogério Sousa, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney, 4: 293–312. Egitto Antico. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.
  • Lavrentyeva, Nika. ‘The Coffin of Padikhonsu from the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (Inv. 1, 1a 5316 / ИГ 5402)’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, I: 255–58. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Lavrentyeva, Nika. ‘The Khedive’s Gift: The “Lost” Coffin of Iusankh in the Pushkin Museum. In Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the Priests of Amun, edited by Rogério Sousa, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney, 4: 279–92. Egitto Antico. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.
  • Tarasenko, Mykola. ‘Mummy Cover fragment Ar-227 in the Lviv Museum of History of Religion’. edited by Nigel Strudwick and John H. Taylor, 215. London: British Museum Pubns Ltd, 2003.
  • Tarasenko, Mykola. ‘The Lot VI of Bab El-Gasus in the Light of the New Archive Documents’. In Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the Priests of Amun, edited by Rogério Sousa, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney, 4:263–77. Egitto Antico. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.
  • Tarasenko, Mykola. ‘The Third Intermediate Period Coffins in the Museum of Ukraine’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, II:529–40. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.

Lot VII Germany

The Royal Museum in Berlin received different objects from the Bab el-Gasus find including around 93 mummiform ushabtis and funerary statuettes.

Lot VIII Portugal

The Lot VIII of antiquities from Bab el-Gasus was given by the Egyptian Government to the Geographical Society of Lisbon, funded in 1875.

References

  • Sousa, Rogério. ‘Building Catalogues. The Concept of “Architectonisation” and the Description of Coffins of the 21st Dynasty. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, II:515–20. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Sousa, Rogério. Burial Assemblages from Bab El-Gasus in the Geographical Society of Lisbon. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2017.

Lot IX Switzerland

In 1893, the Egyptian Khedive Abbas Hilmy II offered four coffin sets to the Swiss Federal Council and then distributed them to four museums in Appenzell, Bern (Historical Museum), Geneva (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire) and Neuchâtel (Musée d’ethnographie) where the coffins are on display today.

References

  • Küffer, Alexandra. ‘The Coffins from the Cache-Tomb of Bab El-Gasus in Switzerland’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, I:249–54. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Küffer, Alexandra, and Marc Renfer. ‘Das Sargensemble Einer Vornehmen Dame Aus Theben’. Antike Welt, no. 28 (1997): 103–12.
  • Küffer, Alexandra, and Renate Siegman. Unter dem Schutz der Himmelsgöttin. Ägyptische Särge, Mumien und Masken in der Schweiz. Zürich, Chronos Verlag, 2007.

Lot X United States

The only Lot sent to the USA was sent to Washington DC at the National Museum of Natural History. Some objects were then sent to Mexico and are now kept at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. 

Lot XI Netherlands

Lot XI was sent to the Netherlands and stored in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) in the small city of Leiden. The Museum possesses nowadays six coffins, three mummy boards, two shabti-boxes and 92 ushabtis of this famous Cache.

References

  • Weiss, Lara, ed. The Coffins of the Priests of Amun. Egyptian Coffins from the 21st Dynasty in the Collection of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. Papers on Archaeology from the Leiden Museum of Antiquities (PALMA) 17. Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2018.

Lot XII Greece

The objects from Bab el-Gasus were sent to Athens and kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Lot XIII Spain

Lot XIII was sent to the Museo Arqueologico Nacional in Madrid which keeps funerary boxes, ushabtis and coffins from the Theban Cache.

 

References

  • Pérez-Die, M. Carmen. ‘The Lot XIII of Bab el-Gasus in the Museo Arqueologico Nacional in Madrid’. Edited by Rogério Sousa, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney. Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the priests of Amun, Antico Egitto, 2021, 313–39.

Lot XIV Sweden and Norway

The Lot XIV was offered to King Oscar II. It arrived in Stockholm in November 1893 and was divided between  Museums in Sweden and Norway: the Medelhavsmuseet (Stockholm), the Victoriamuseet för egyptiska fornsaker (Uppsala) and the Museum of Cultural History (Oslo).

 

References

  • Bettum, Anders. ‘Lot 14 from Bab El-Gasus (Sweden and Norway): The Modern History Ofthe Collection and a Reconstruction of the Ensembles’. In Body Cosmos and Eternity. New Research Trends in the Iconography and Symbolism of  Ancient Egyptian Coffins, edited by Rogério de Sousa, 167–86. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2014.
  • Dodson, Aidan. Ancient Egyptian Coffins: The Medelhavsmuseet Collection. Världskulturmuseerna, 2015.
  • Dodson, Aidan. ‘The Third Intermediate Period Coffins in the Collection of the Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, I:145–54. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.

Lot XV Belgium

Lot XV was offered to the Royal Museums of Art and History of Brussels.  It consists of outer and inner coffins, mummy boards,  wooden chests and ushabtis.

References

  • Delvaux, Luc. ‘New lights on the Lot XV of Bab el-Gasus’. In Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the Priests of Amun, edited by Rogério Sousa, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney, 4:341–52. Egitto Antico. Roma: L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.
  • Delvaux, Luc and Therasse, Isabelle. Sarcophages. Sous les etoiles de Nout. Brussels: éditions Racine. 2015

Lot XVI Denmark

Lot XVI was sent to Denmark and is today stored at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.

References

  • Sousa, Rogério, and Anne Haslund Hansen. The Tomb of the Priests of Amun, Burial Assemblages at the National Museum of Denmark. Vol. 2. Gate of the Priests Series. Brill, 2022.

Lot XVII Vatican

The last Lot (XVII) was sent to Città del Vaticano, stored with its seven coffins at the Musei Vaticani (Museo Gregoriano Egizio).

 

References

  • Gasse, Annie. Les sarcophages de la troisième période intermédiaire du Museo Gregoriano Egizio. Ediz. illustrata. Illustrated edizione. Vol. III. Monumenti Musei e Gallerie Pontificie. Museo Gregoriano Egizio Aegyptiaca Gregorianano. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 1996.

see also

  • Amenta Alessia. ‘New Results From The Ct Scanning Of A Coffin’. edited by John H. Taylor and Marie Vandenbeusch, 323–35. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2018.
  • Amenta, Alessia. ‘The Vatican Coffin Project’. In Thebes in the First Millennium BC, edited by Elena Pischikova, Julia Budka, and Kenneth Griffin, 483–99. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Pub, 2014.
  • Amenta, Alessia, and Hélène Guichard, eds. Proceedings First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013. Edizioni Musei Vaticani. Voll. I-II. Città del Vaticano, 2017.
  • Anderson, Averil, and Luc Bidaut. ‘The Third Intermediate Period Coffins: The Evidence of Analysis for the Vatican Coffin Project"’. In Proceedings of the First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, I:31–44. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Asensi Amorós, Maria Victoria. ‘The Wood of the Third Intermediate Period Coffins: The Evidence of the Analysis for the Vatican Coffin Project".’ In Proceedings of First Vatican Coffin Conference: 19-22 June 2013, edited by Alessia Amenta and Hélène Guichard, I:45–50. Città del Vaticano: Edizioni Musei Vaticani, 2017.
  • Buscaglia, Paola, Michela Cardinali, Tiziana Cavaleri, Marco Nervo, Giovanna Prestipino, and Paolo Triolo. ‘Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI): For and in-Depth Investigation of the Painted Surface of a Vatican Coffin from Bab El-Gasus (Vatican Museums, Inv. 25035)’. In Bab El-Gasus in Context. Rediscovering the Tomb of the Priests of Amun, edited by Rogério Sousa, Alessia Amenta, and Kathlyn M. Cooney, 4:531–50. Egitto Antico. L’ERMA di Bretschneider, 2021.

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