Wall Paintings from the Tomb of Tetiky (TT15)
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Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, ca. 1550 BC
Material: Painted plaster
Provenance: West Bank, Thebes, Tomb TT15 (Tetiky) at Dra Abu El-Naga
Excavated: Documented in situ in 1968 and 1975
Details: Stolen sometime between 1975 and 2000

Status: Repatriated in December, 2009

In May 2008, Dr. Eva Hoffman, art historian and photographer with the Heidelberg University project “Kunsthistorische Analyse der Wandbilder in Gräbern der 18. Dynastie” (hereinafter referred to as the “Heidelberg Mission”) noticed five painted wall fragments of from TT15, the tomb of Tetiky, in the permanent collection of the Museé du Louvre. Dr. Hofmann requested information on the pieces from the museum, and was informed that four had been purchased in 2000 from the collection of Marianne Maspero, while the fifth had been purchased in 2003 from an unidentified collection. The Heidelberg Mission knew that at least one of these scene (a seated man) had been in situ as of 1968, when it had been photographed in the tomb by Claude Vandersleyen, and another of the fragments (showing rites before the mummy) appears in a slide taken around 1975 by Dr. Arthur Brack.

Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Karl-Joachim Seyfried, Field Director of the Heidelberg Mission, asked for permission to enter and study TT15, which Dr. Seyfried had only recently re-discovered after many years of concealment beneath a modern building. On 25 November 2008, a committee comprised of the following individuals opened and entered the tomb: Ali El Asfar, General Director for Qurna; Nour Abdel-Ghaffar Mohamed, Director for Qurna; Mohamed Abd El-Aziz Ahmed, Head of North Qurna; Omar Ahmed Abu Zeid, Inspector for Qurna; Ali Radwan Mohamed, Inspector assigned to the Heidelberg Mission; Mustafa Mohamed Ahmed, Tourist Police Officer; and site guards (ghaffir) Ahmed Hassan Mustafa, Mohamed El-Arabi, Hassan Reda Hassan, and Ali Mahmoud Mohamed. With them were Dr. Seyfried and Dr. Hoffman. The committee found the tomb to be in very poor condition. Traces of cutting were evident where the fragments had been removed from the walls.

Dr. Zahi Hawass requested that the Louvre return these fragments, and stopped all excavations connected in any way with the museum until an agreement had been reached. The French museum authorities agreed to repatriate the pieces, with President Sarkozy even phoning President Mubarak to confirm the arrangements. They were returned to Egypt in December of 2009, and are now at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Dr. Hawass hopes to have them either put back in situ within the tomb or eventually displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum.

The Mask of Ka-nefer-nefer, stolen from Egypt and currently in the possession of the St. Louis Museum of Art (St. Louis Museum of Art)

Wall painting in TT15, showing Tetiky and his wife..

The Mask of Ka-nefer-nefer, stolen from Egypt and currently in the possession of the St. Louis Museum of Art (St. Louis Museum of Art)

One of the recently recovered fragments from the tomb