Gate of the Priests


Bab el-Gasus (an Arabic expression meaning “The Gate of the Priests”) figures among one of the most important events in Egyptian archaeology: it was not only one of the largest tombs ever found in Egypt, but had also remained completely undisturbed since Antiquity. Excavated by Georges Daressy and Eugène Grébaut in 1891, 153 burials of Amun priests and priestesses were uncovered in its vast galleries, together with a large hoard of funerary equipment consisting of 254 coffins, 110 boxes containing ushebtis, 77 Osiris statues (most of them containing funerary papyri), eight wooden stelae, eight statues of Isis and Nephthys and sixteen canopic jars. Offerings, mats, pottery, floral garlands and fruits covered the floor of the tomb. Later on, after the find had been removed to the Giza Museum, Daressy and his assistants examined some of the mummies and added to the previous record of objects an outstanding collection of artefacts consisting of amulets, wax figurines, cloths, shrouds, sandals and funerary papyri. Due to the size of this discovery, the Egyptian authorities of the time decided to offer a substantial part of the find to nations with diplomatic representation in Egypt. Seventeen nations received such collections, which meant that the find was dispersed throughout Europe, America and the Middle East. The fact that the tomb held an important sample of the Egyptian community of priests and priestesses in Theban society (153 individuals), and provided hundreds of documents that shed light on one of the most obscure periods of Egyptian history, makes it an invaluable resource for the study of the Egyptian material culture. The Gate of the Priests Project is a consortium of institutions involving the University of Coimbra, the University of Leiden, the National Museum of Antiquities of Leiden, the Vatican Museums and the University of California - Los Angeles, among other partners. Its main purpose is to reconstruct the original Bab el-Gasus collection and other Egyptian burials dating from the Third Intermediate Period. Brill´s Gate of the Priests series is the result of this effort to document and study the collection, and aims to publish monographs and critical studies on the funerary culture of the Third Intermediate Period, with a particular focus on Bab el-Gasus and the 21st Dynasty. As such, it intends both to bring together the most significant scholarship undertaken in recent years, as well as to provide a forum in which new approaches can be discussed, in order to restore the original integrity of one of the most important discoveries in the history of Egyptian archaeology.
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