July 26th 2012

Title: Meet Kha and Merit.

Speaker: Prof Joann Fletcher

All Horus meetings are extremely enjoyable occasions but the last meeting of the season is special.  There are extra courses at the meal, but the most important thing is that our patron Joann Fletcher presents the lecture, giving an extra flourish to a most rewarding season.  The following account can only be a very brief and inadequate summary of the richness and scholarship of Joann’s presentation. Kha may have been leader of the right or left team of the tomb builders living in the workmen’s village at Deir el-Medina but his title at death was Chief Foreman of the Tomb Builders, and Overseer of Construction.  He is known to have designed and supervised the construction of the tombs of three eighteenth dynasty pharaohs, Amenhotep II, Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep III.  All Kha’s constructions were dedicated to Hathor.  He was highly regarded by his royal masters and his tomb contains precious objects with which they had rewarded him. In Kha and Merit’s day Deir el-Medina was not the isolated and seemingly unique place it seems to be now.  We need to see it in the context of the large royal residential complex at Malkata, where there were many other workmen’s settlements to serve the royal palace and the large number of officials who lived there.  Neither was the area as arid as it is today.  Malkata had its own massive harbour, and the area was criss-crossed with canals and water courses.Kha and Merit’s tomb is one of four workmen’s tombs to have survived intact at Deir el-Medina.  It was separated from his mortuary temple, found in 1824, and lay undiscovered until 1906, when the superintendent of the Turin Museum, Ernesto Schiaperelli, found it.  He removed the entire contents within three days, to prevent looting, and transported it to Italy.  Because it was found intact, it provides amazing details of the life of Kha and Merit.  Kha’s scribal tools are there as well as mathematical instruments and a gold cubit measure, and Merit’s wig box and cosmetic chest.  There is also so much furniture, bedding and food offerings, that we are able to learn a great deal of what everyday life might have been like in their house in the village. Those of us who are lucky enough to be going to Turin in a group from Horus, will be able to see the whole collection for ourselves, and perhaps report back on its treasures on the Horus website. 

by Mary Bonsall

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