Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


19 March 2013

3200 year old sundial guides archaeologists into the past

Past Horizons, 15-03-2013

During the 2013 season of the Valley of the Kings Project carried out by University of Basel, Prof. Susanne Bickel’s team have found a number of exciting artefacts including what they suspect to be one of the oldest portable sundials in the area between tombs KV 29 and 61.

This year’s season started on 13th January and lasted until 1st March as part of a larger programme dedicated to the study of the undecorated non-royal tombs in the side valley leading to KV 34 of Thutmosis III. The general aims of the project, that has been running since 2009, are to clear the tombs and prepare them for documentation and  study of the architecture. If possible, the tombs will be identified and the finds and study material recorded. There is a longer term goal to look at the site management and  protection of the tombs as well as prepare a topographical survey of this area of the side valley Students from the University of Basel recovered many fragmentary objects in this year’s season to add to 500 recovered in the past few years,  including a number of ceramics and canopic jars and even parts of a cartonage and a number of textiles that will all help to identify the tombs and their occupants. This includes the find material from the lower layers of the tomb KV 64 discovered in 2012. In the 3500-year-old tomb the Basel archaeologists discovered a sarcophagus containing the mummy of a woman named Nehemes Babu.

However, one find that has excited the archaeologists is a small piece of limestone, engraved with  a semicircle marked out by twelve divisions painted with black lines. A central hole would have served as the fixing point for a wooden or metal pin, whose shadow would have marked out the ”hours”.  The entire piece is only a little over 16 cm along the horizontal baseline. Small faded black dots  allowed a still finer timing in the middle of each segment.

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