CAIRO: A wall relief fragment was hacked out from the 3,850 year-old tomb of Djehutyhotep, according to a Tuesday Facebook statement by the Catholic Leuven University archaeology mission.
The fragment in question measures 30 by 50 centimeters (12 by 20 inches.) The archaeology mission, currently carrying out excavations where the tomb is located, has posted photos of the wall and the fragment before and after the looting.
“We have since been trying to get reliable information on this matter from the antiquities authorities. The reports we now have are consistent in confirming the grave news that the tomb has been entered and that a relief has been stolen,” said the statement.
Co-founder of Egypt’s Heritage Task Force archaeologist Monica Hanna told The Cairo Post that she first reported the shocking looting and extensive destruction of the tomb on May 11.
The tomb is located in Deir el-Bersha, an archaeological site from the east bank of the Nile to the south of Egypt’s Delta governorate of Minya, according to Hanna.
“A small scene to the east of the entrance has been hacked out. It was damaged already in Newberry’s day (1891-1892), but it still showed the well preserved top part of a man carrying a chest towards Djehutihotep. It was also one of the few reliefs where the head of a figure was still in good condition,” said the statement.
We have no photos at our disposal that confirm what the other walls of the tomb look like, according to the statement.
Deir el-Bersha was the necropolis for the governors of ancient Upper Egypt’s 15th province during the First Intermediate Period (2160B.C.-2040B.C.) and the Middle Kingdom Period (2040B.C-1750B.C.), according to Hanna.
Head of Upper Egypt Antiquities Department Aly el-Asfar has confirmed to the Cairo Post an attempt to loot the tomb but said the attempt was foiled by security forces, saying that the tomb is “sound and safe.”
“The tomb of Djehutyhotep was penetrated earlier this month but the assailants did not take anything from the tomb,” Asfar said, adding that the police forces have arrested the assailants.
Djehutyhotep was most likely a nomarch (province governor) during the reign of the 12th Dynasty Pharaoh Amenemhat II (1922B.C-1878B.C.) all the tombs in the area are badly preserved except for Djehutyhotep’s tomb, which is renowned for the great quality of its decorations.