06 Jun 2012

Saqqara Day in Leiden

Review of the study day and presentation to Geoffrey Martin of 'Maya and Meryt I'.

The EES joined in a very special occasion on Saturday 2 June 2012 when the Friends of Saqqara Foundation held their 10th Saqqara Day in Leiden and the occasion was marked by the presentation to Professor Geoffrey Martin of the first copy (literally ‘hot off the press’!) of The Tomb of Maya and Meryt I: the Reliefs, Inscriptions, and Commentary. The publication of this important book (EES Excavation Memoir 99) has been made possible by donations from the Friends of Saqqara Foundation and individual EES members, and the Society is very grateful to them all for their generous support.


The front cover of EES Excavation Memoir 99 The Tomb of Maya and Meryt I: the Reliefs, Inscriptions, and Commentary.

The tomb of Maya and Meryt was discovered by the then EES/Leiden Museum expedition at Saqqara in 1986 and was a major news story at the time. Maya was one of the most important officials of the reign of Tutankhamun, holding a number of titles including ‘Overseer of the Treasury’. His finely-decorated tomb at Saqqara had been wrecked in antiquity but much remained to be recorded by the EES/Leiden expedition. The new volume publishes a full record of the architecture, the scenes and texts in the superstructure and the tomb’s unique painted substructure reliefs.


One of the beautifully-carved scenes in the tomb of Maya and Meryt

The EES Treasurer, Susan Royce, and General Editor, Dr Patricia Spencer, represented the Society at the Saqqara Day, where a series of talks was given, in the Lipsius Building of the University of Leiden in the morning, and in the splendid setting of the Rijksmuseum in the afternoon. Arnold Jan Stuart, Chairperson of the Friends, opened the proceedings and introduced Professor Geoffrey Martin who described the discovery of the Memphite tomb of Horemheb.


Arnold Jan Stuart introducing the 10th Saqqara Day


Professor Geoffrey Martin preparing to give his talk

Dr Jacobus van Dijk then gave a talk on Horemheb’s early career before he became king, and Dr René van Walsem discussed whether or not Amarna statues and reliefs could be dated by the folds of skin depicted on necks, showing many examples which pre- or post-date the Amarna Period!

The afternoon session started with a description, by Dr Christian Greco, of the Saqqara tomb of Ptahmes, and Dr Maarten Raven rounded off the talks with a description of the damage caused by robbers to the New Kingdom cemetery at Saqqara after the 2011 revolution. Fortunately there was virtually no damage to the tombs themselves and only a small amount of material was stolen from the expedition’s magazines.


Dr Christian Creco giving his talk in the imposing setting of the Rijksmuseum


Dr Maarten Raven describing the damage caused to the magazines at Saqqara.

The talks were followed by the presentation to Professor Martin by Arnold Jan Stuart and Susan Royce.


Arnold Jan Stuart, on behalf of the Saqqara Friends, and Susan Royce, representing the EES, presenting the first copy of Maya and Meryt I to Geoffrey Martin. Photograph: Peter Jan Bomhof

There was then a lottery in which the first prize was a copy of Maya and Meryt I, followed by an auction to raise funds for the Friends of Saqqara Foundation.


Carolien van Zoest introducing the lottery and auction. Photograph: Peter Jan Bomhof.


Arnold Jan Stuart and Hans van den Berg with one of the fine reproductions auctioned to raise funds for the Friends of Saqqara Foundation

No Egyptological gathering would be complete without glasses of wine and these were served in the Museum, giving an opportunity to chat to friends, old and new, and also to have some photographs taken in front of statues and reliefs from the Saqqara New Kingdom Necropolis.


Dr Maarten Raven, Cocky Demarée, Arnold Jan Stuart, Dr Patricia Spencer, Vincent Verschoor and Susan Royce. Photograph: Peter Jan Bomhof


The Board of the Friends of Saqqara Foundation in front of the Horemheb reliefs and one of the statues of Maya and Meryt. Left to right: Cocky Demarée (Secretary), Marieke van der Kuijl, Graciella Roosien, Joost Golverdingen, Hans van den Berg, Vincent Oeters, Dr René van Walsem, Carolien van Zoest, Dr Christian Greco, Dr Maarten Raven. Seated in front: Peter Jan Bomhof, Vincent Verschoor (Treasurer), Arnold Jan Stuart (Chairperson). Photograph: Peter Jan Bomhof. 

In the evening many of us went for an excellent dinner, giving the opportunity for more Egyptological (and other) discussions.

The EES is very grateful to the Friends of Saqqara Foundation for their generous donation and for inviting the Society to participate in their tenth anniversary Saqqara Day. Special thanks are due to Arnold Jan Stuart for all his help, Dr Maarten Raven, Dr Rob Demarée, Vincent Verschoor and Peter Jan Bomhof. We look forward to further collaborative ventures with our Leiden colleagues and friends.

EES Excavation Memoir 99. Geoffrey T Martin, The Tomb of Maya and Meryt I: the Reliefs, Inscriptions, and Commentary. ISBN: 978 08569 8206 4. Full price; £80. EES members and members of the Friends of Saqqara Foundation can purchase the book at the special 50% discount price of £40 (exclusive of postage and packing) until the end of 2012.