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For more than thirty years the site and the tombs of the Bubasteion at Saqqara, one of the most important archaelogical sites in Egypt, is the frame of a vast and systematic project of excavation, research, restauration and site-management of an outstanding site, occupying a central position and yet virtually unknown few decennies ago.

Located South of the city of Cairo, Saqqara is the site of the main necropolis of ancient Memphis, the main city of Egypt, and has been associated to its history during more than three millenia.

Inscribing themselves in the tradition of the egyptologists from all origins who worked at Saqqara since Mariette and the beginnings of egyptology, Alain Zivie and his team of the French Archaeological Mission of theBubasteion (MAFB) have step by step brought back to light, with patience et at the prize of a systematic work, sometimes dangerous, in the cliff of the sanctuary of the goddess Bastet or Bubasteion, the catacombs where thousand of mummies of cats have been buried, and first of all a necropolis of the New Kingdom (particularly the XVIIIth-XIXth dynasties), probably the most dazzling period in Egyptian history.

Alain Zivie and the MAFB have so discovered and excavated, since the year 1980, tombs belonging to high officials of great pharaohs such as Amenhotep III, Amenhotep IV, who became later Akhenaten, Tutankhamon, Ramses II and Merenptah. We can particularly quote the tombs of the vizier and divine father ‘Aper-El, his wife Tauret and their son, the commander-in-chief Huy, with their superb funerary treasury ; of the officier Resh, the seal-bearer Nehesy, the director of the granaries Mery-Sekhmet, the cup-bearer Seth, the directors of painters Thutmes and Kenna, the foster mother Maïa, the scribe of treasury of the temple of Aten Râïay or Hatiay, the high steward of Memphis, the ambassador Netjerwymes, aslso named Parakhnawa, the first royal cup-bearer Penrenout, and still others.



In preparation : the blog of the president

Alain Zivie will keep us personally and regularly informed about the progress of the researches of the MAFB on the site of Saqqara.  When necessary or particularly interesting, he will comment facts or informations connected to Egyptology which fascinates so many people through the entire world and whose some aspects and implications go far beyond its original purpose.



The Lost Tombs of Saqqara
by Alain Zivie.
Photographs by Patrick Chapuis.
Translation by David Lorton.
Cara-cara edition, 2007. 152 pages, 55 pictures.

Translated for the first time into English, The Lost Tombs of Saqqara recount 25 years of major discoveries by the Egyptologist Alain Zivie, head of the French Archaeological Mission of the Bubasteion, a site located in the necropolis of ancient Memphis. Texts by Alain Zivie, accompanied by 55 spectacular color photographs by Patrick Chapuis, strikingly convey the atmosphere, the enthusiasm, and the patient daily labor that prevailed during this exceptional scientific and human adventure.
This newly-published English translation of the 2003 French edition includes the most recent discoveries of the French Egyptologist; these discoveries followed upon others that had already resulted in the uncovering of a remarkable complex of tombs dating to the reigns of the greatest pharaohs of the New Kingdom. They include the tombs of the vizier 'Aper-El and his family, with their funerary treasure; the painter Thothmes; Maia, the foster mother of Tutankhamun; and the ambassador and peace-maker Parikhnawa, a high official of Ramesses II.

This English-language edition, which appeared at the end of 2007, is something more than just a translation of Alain Zivie’s Les Tombeaux retrouvés de Saqqara, published in 2003. The text of this edition in fact unveils the most recent discoveries by the French Egyptologist, continuing those which had already brought to light a remarkable group of tombs dating to the reigns of the greatest pharaohs of the New Kingdom: the vizier ‘Aper-El and his family, including the generalissimo Huy, along with their burial treasure; the master painter Thothmes; the lady Maïa, foster mother of Tutankhamun; the ambassador and peace maker Parikhnawa, a high official of Ramesses II. There are two new photographs by Patrick Chapuis in this edition, which also includes previously unpublished illustrations (tomb plans, reproductions of recently discovered reliefs...).

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The Tomb of Maïa, Foster Mother of King Tutankhamun and Mistress of the Harem


by Alain Zivie.
Photographs by Patrick Chapuis, Carole Fritz, and Gilles Tosello, plans by Patrick Deleuze, drawings by William Schenck.
220 pages, 100 illustrations (plans, drawings, photos).

Inaugurating a series entitled The Tombs of the Bubasteion at Saqqara, this publication is devoted to tomb Bub. I.20, created for the lady Maïa, which was discovered in November 1996. In this book, Alain Zivie does not content himself, as in earlier works, with presenting a clear and elegant new reference work to the scholarly community and to all those with a passionate interest in the Amarna episode and the reign of Tutankhamun. The “discoverer” of Maïa has in fact spent the intervening years attempting to understand this historical personage who emerged from the darkness of oblivion, this “grand lady” whose obvious femininity and sensual allure, as well as the respect she was accorded by those around her, are obvious throughout the tomb. Painstaking study of the decoration and texts, as well as a consideration of the tomb in its context, have gradually led him to original thoughts and to surprising conclusions regarding Maïa’s identity.

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The tomb of Thotmes, Director of the Artists in the Place
of Maat


by Alain Zivie, La tombe de Thoutmes, directeur des artistes dans la Place de Maât. Caracara Edition, Toulouse. Publication scheduled for the beginning of 2011.

Thothmes, who served as an artist during the reign of Amenhotep (Amenophis) III, and at least at the beginning of that of Akhenaten, decorated at least part of his tomb himself, and these decorations are exceptional for more than one reason. This tomb and its owner thus raise crucial questions that this publication proposes to answer.

After La tombe de Maïa (The Tomb of Maïa), this work is the second title in the series entitled Les tombes du Bubasteion à Saqqara (The Tombs of the Bubasteion at Saqqara), which is dedicated to the principal tombs discovered, excavated, studied, and restored by the French Archaeological Mission of the Bubasteion. It will constitute the complete scientific publication of tomb Bubasteion I.19 (also known as the “tomb of the artists”), discovered at Saqqara in November 1996. As in the preceding volume, the texts will be retranscribed, along with their transliteration and translation, and the representations on the walls will be described and commented on. It has been possible to understand most of this material, though some of it is scarcely visible, but a major work of cleaning and stabilizing of the decorated walls proved necessary to assure their conservation and to facilitate their “decipherment.”

This rock-cut tomb differs considerably from its neighbors. It is quite small, and its owner was not a high dignitary, nor was he a woman of royal blood like his immediate neighbor, Maïa (Bub. I.20), alias Princess Meritaten (Mayati). He was a member of the community whose work was to excavate and decorate the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, those servants in the Place of Maat who were intimately associated with the site of Deir el-Medina at Thebes. More precisely, he was an overseer of outline scribes, that is to say, a painter, and in his case, also a sculptor, in a word and to put it simply: an artist. His father and his eldest son had the same occupation Other artists attached to the Place of Maat are also present in this tomb, in particular Kenna, who might have been “co-owner” of  the tomb.

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