Finnish team at the workmen's huts

A trip to Luxor in April 2011 of Heidi Kontkanen from Helsinki, Finland, produced some wonderful images of the area around the builders' huts at the top of the Theban cliffs. I am very grateful to Heidi for taking the pictures for me and for allowing me to use them on this web site. Her photographs bring us up to date with the latest developments in the area and with the fruit of the Finnish team's work. I left some 2007 pictures on the page for comparison as to the changes occurring.
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Photography © 2007 Andy Peacock

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Photography © 2011 Heidi Kontkanen

“From our modern perspective, it is upsetting to see how the village was first excavated and then left to be destroyed. Passers-by have used the huts as dumps and rest rooms,” says Docent Jaana Toivari- Viitala, who heads the first-ever research project managed by Finns in Egypt. “Fortunately, while we still have some surface cleaning to do, documentation and conservation are off to a good start. Comparing the names found in the village and in Deir el-Medina provides useful information. Judging from the construction methods, settlement in the village can be divided into two separate periods: the initial settlement and a  later one".
 
The team has been working at the site of the stone huts at the top of the cliffs during several consecutive field seasons, each consisting of three months, from 2008 to 2011. The  research group, called "Workmen's huts in the Theban mountains" is a part of the project called "Man and his environment". It is funded by the Academy of Finland.
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The third field season, commenced on October the 9th 2010 again under the leadership of Jaana Toivari-Viitala of the Helsinki University. The main goal of the season was to excavate the area of the huts in the Eastern cluster. It consists of 64 room units. All the rooms were photographed from every possible angle. Heights of all the walls, even the partially collapsed ones, were measured. The stones from the collapsed walls were cleared away, so that the research and documentation of the rooms could be carried out. At the same time part of the team began digging outside the Eastern cluster.

Photography © 2007 Andy Peacock

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Photography © 2011 Heidi Kontkanen

Discoveries in both the rooms and outside area of the Eastern cluster were abundant. So far during all three  seasons the team has found a total of 540 objects.
Finds such as string and rope, textile fragments, fragments
of faience, alabaster, ceramics and bones are not included in this count as they are classified as "research material". All finds are meticulously catalogued.
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Photography © 2011 Heidi Kontkanen

After some progress with the individual rooms in the Eastern cluster was achieved, it became clear that the map published by
Bernard Bruyere in 1939, had a number of errors. The maps that are being worked on now, will be based on the new  measurements and will reflect the actual size of each room and their exact position. The dimensions were taken digitally with a
tachymeter. They are significantly more accurate than the dimensions measured by hand. The team plans to produce up-to-date maps of the entire area of stone huts when the project is completed.
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Photography © 2007 Andy Peacock

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Photography © 2011 Heidi Kontkanen

Individual rooms revealed interesting and detailed  information about the building skills of ancient workers.
A significant amount of plaster was still left on the walls and floors. The team even found several fragments that retained some pigment - yellow, blue, black and red. Many of the rooms had a well preserved mastaba bench.

Photography © 2007 Andy Peacock

Several rooms had whitewashed floors visible. Some huts had remains of door lintels. Finally   important new  evidence came to light in the form of a number of fireplaces - both inside the rooms, as well as outside! The evidence
was found in the North cluster last year as well.
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Photography © 2011 Heidi Kontkanen

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A significant find was made at the foot of the mountain,
where a large fragment of stele dedicated to the snake
goddess Meretseger was discovered. Within the huts a number of game pieces were found. While digging in the western corner of the Eastern cluster, a huge accumulation of faeces was found where the ancient toilet area used to be.

Photography © 2011 Heidi Kontkanen

Before the end of the season a small protective wall was built around the site and a small stone guardhouse was erected in the west corner of the area. Under the new rules, there must be an Egyptian guard present at the site throughout the year.
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Photography © 2011 Heidi Kontkanen

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From “Reflections on the Workmen's Huts in the Theban Mountains field project's third season” published in The Finnish Egyptological Society’s member newsletter KIRJURI, 1/2011, was kindly translated by Heidi Kontkanen from Helsinki.

http://www.egyptologinenseura.fi/tyomiesmajat-theban-vuoristossa-projekti-2008-2013/

Sources:
1. KIRJURI, 2 / 2011-The Finnish Egyptological Society’s member newsletter