Tell el-Daba: 13th and 15th Dynasties Tombs from Area F/I

„Totenhäuser“ and small cemetery in area F/I (© OREA/ÖAI archive, M. Bietak and D. Eigner)

At Tell el-Daba nearly 500 tombs were excavated in area F/I between the years 1979 till 1989, covering a period of about 300 years from the late Middle Kingdom to the beginning of the New Kingdom. R. Schiestl has published 76 of these tombs in his book on the palace cemeteries dating to the late 12th and beginning of 13th dynasties. The remaining tombs, dating from the first half of the 13th to the end of the 15th dynasties will be investigated during this project. The remains of these – often looted – tombs suggest that the people buried here had strong connections to the world of the late MB IIA and the following MB IIB and C culture of the Syro-Palestinian regions. Many of these tombs were found either in separate rooms, which are attached to houses (“Totenhäuser”) or were arranged in small cemeteries in between large mansions. Child burials often took place in large storage vessels buried inside these houses or in their surrounding courtyards. Whilst in the MB IIA the dominant burial tradition are single burials, in younger phases collected tombs become more and more common. The architecture of these tombs vary from large constructed sun-dried mud-brick tombs with vaulted ceilings and entrance shafts to simple constructed cist tombs and pit burials. Although nearly 60% of the tombs were robbed already in antiquity, various funerary traditions can be observed. Social and/or ethnographical distinctions are visible within the grave goods. The latter representing a mixture of Egyptian and Near Eastern MB traditions and origins.

Detailed analyses of this material will enable us to see how far these people adapted over time to Egyptian burial customs, and what of their old beliefs and traditions were still preserved. How they merged the cultural horizons of the Near Eastern with the one of ancient Egypt over time. The results of these studies will be published in the Tell el-Daba series.

Pot burial F/I – l/23 tomb 25 (© ÖAI/OREA archive)
Constructed tombs F/I – i/22 tombs 42 & 43 with “Dienerbestattung” (© OREA/ÖAI archive, drawing L. Majerus)



  • K. Kopetzky, Datierung der Gräber der Grabungsfläche F/I von Tell el-Dab’a anhand der Keramik. Diplomarbeit Universität Wien 1993.
  • K. Kopetzky, Burial Practices and Mortuary Rituals at Tell el-Dabca, Egypt. In: P. Pfälzner, H. Niehr, Herbert, E. Pernicka, S. Lange, T. Köster (eds.), Contextualising Grave Inventories in the Ancient Near East, Qatna Studien Supplementa 3, Wiesbaden 2014, 123‒140.
  • R. Schiestl, Tell el-Dabca XVIII. Die Palastnekropole von Tell el-Dabca. Die Gräber des Areals F/I der Straten d/2 und d/1. Untersuchungen der Zweigstelle Kairo des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 30, Vienna 2009.