The Saqqara Saite Tombs Project

by Dr Ramadan B Hussein, Univeristät Tübingen

The Saqqara Saite Tombs Project (SSTP) was launched in March 2016 with a grant from the German Research Foundation. Its main goal is to embark on a second round of documentation and epigraphic survey to the Saite-Persian tombs in Saqqara. For its first phase, the Project selected the tomb complexes of Padinist, Psamtik and Amuntayefnakht, which were discovered between 1899 and 1948.

The burial chambers of these tombs are inscribed with compositions of religious texts that are mainly selections of spells from the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts. Therefore, they are considered valuable sources for the study of text transmission as well as processes of text compositions.

The Project’s activities include conservation, digital documentation, and publication of the archaeology and texts of the three tomb complexes. Interestingly, mapping the site of the tombs of Padinist and Psamtik has revealed unprecedented complex of mummification structures. This lecture reports on the Project’s activities and discoveries.


Ramadan Badry Hussein is currently the Director of the Saqqara Saite Tombs Project at the Institute of Near Eastern Studies at the Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen, Germany.

He first studied Egyptology at Cairo University from 1990-1994, then worked as inspector of antiquities at Giza and Saqqara for seven years. During this time, he received training in archaeological methods and participated in the excavations of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities in Giza, Saqqara and Baharyya Oasis.

He was admitted to the PhD program of Egyptology at Brown University 2001-2009. At Brown his research for the Master’s and Doctoral degrees focused on the ancient Egyptian language and religious texts.

During his matriculation at Brown University, he taught classes on Egyptian History and Language, and the ancient cultures of the Nile Valley for the Egyptology Department at Brown University and for the Anthropology Department at Rhode Island College.

From 2003-2006, he joined the excavation project of Brown University-Cairo University at the Cemetery of Abu Bakr at Giza. On this project, he participated as area supervisor and later as Deputy Director.

He returned to the Ministry of Antiquities in June 2009, and was put in charge of the Center of the Documentation and Study of Egyptian Antiquities. He was also appointed as the Managing Editor of the Publication Department, and finally the Chief of Staff to the Minister of Antiquities in April 2011.

His research interest is focused on the processes of the composition and transmission of ancient Egyptian religious texts.

He received international research grants and awards for his projects. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, for two years, which he spent at the University of Tübingen. Upon completion of his Humboldt Fellowship, he was awarded the University of Tübingen Excellence Initiative Fellowship, for six months. He then received a handsome grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in 2016 for his on-going project.

His research reflects his multi-disciplinary training in Egyptian archaeology, fieldwork and language. His research on religious texts in general and the Saite Pyramid Texts in particular has evolved from focusing on philological matters to the investigation of the processes of text composition, particularly those of intertextuality and text transmission. His approach to text transmission is more influenced by theories generated in ‘New Philology’.

Aside from his research on religious texts, he co-publishes archaeological and epigraphical materials recovered from the Abu Bakr Cemetery at Giza. These materials are representative of the poor and underclass Egyptians who could not access elite ceremonial and ritual items. He studies strategies used by such lower-class Egyptians to creatively manipulate space and material culture to fulfill prerequisites for mortuary rites. This approach balances the elite-centric perspectives of Egyptian archaeology.

This lecture is free to attend and no booking is necessary.