Grave 226: changing burial customs

Burial at Amara West
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  • 1

    Tumulus of G226

  • 2

    Disarticulated human remains in the shaft of G226. The slabs are part of the covering structure of the niche

  • 3

    Intact burial in the niche

  • 4

    Grave goods in G226: part of a pilgrim flask (left) and miniature vessel (right)

Tumulus of G226

Grave 226, located in Cemetery C, is one of a large number of smaller graves which are significantly different from the New Kingdom chamber tombs. Their presence indicates changing burial customs during the 10th and 9th century BC after the end of Egyptian colonial control.

In tombs of this type, the deceased was placed in a lateral rectangular niche off to the north or south side of a vertical shaft. The niches were usually sealed with large schist stones slabs and mud plaster. In grave G226 a young adult female of 20-35 years was buried in an extended body position on a wooden burial bed. Next to her feet, two wooden baskets were deposited, one of them holding a miniature vessel and a necklace of small faience disc beads. Several pots found within the niche and shaft, among them fragments a so called pilgrim flask, allow for a dating of this grave to the period after the end of Egyptian colonial control, during the 10th to 8th century BC.

Similar to a number of other graves in the cemetery, the tomb was not only used for one burial. The bones of seven more individuals (three adults, three infants and one juvenile) were found entirely disarticulated and loosely scattered within the shaft. Only a few elements of these older burials were recovered from within the niche, apparently left behind when clearing it for a new burial.

On the surface, the tomb is marked with a low burial mound (tumulus) consisting of alluvial silt and covered with schist stones. Superstructures of this type are one of the most distinctive features of Nubian burial customs. This stands in contrast to the burial itself in which the extended body position indicates the influence of Egyptian funerary rites.

Overall the grave reflects an interplay between Egyptian and Nubian cultural elements, evident throughout the cemetery but also in the town.