The Workmen’s Huts in the Theban Mountains (WHTM) Project forms part of a research project called People and Environment. A multidisciplinary study on human agency, housing constructions,
and social and ritual space in Egypt 1550-1069 BC with special focus on the Station de Repos area.
This is a five-year project taking place 1.8.2008–31.7.2013 directed by Dr. Jaana Toivari-Viitala. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland and undertaken at the University of Helsinki in association with the Finnish Egyptological Society. The international partners of the project are The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) in Egypt and the University of Basel in Switzerland as well as the Náprstek Museum in the Czech Republic.
The main objectives of the project are:
- The conservation, consolidation and documentation of the Station de Repos area on the West Bank of Luxor which forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis in Egypt (= Workmen’s Huts in The Theban Mountains (WHTM) Project).
- Conducting multidisciplinary in-depth research on the ancient Egyptian royal tomb-builders’ various modes of housing, building types and functions, lay-out of road/path networks, mobility and other types of human interaction with the environment and landscape as part of human life, experience, agency, social taxonomies, and the conceptual world at large in ancient Egypt during the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC) with special focus on the Station de Repos area on the West Bank of Luxor.
- Providing a research frame work and environment for young Finnish doctoral students of egyptology.
- A continuation of Finnish co-operation in the international preservation work of UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.
- To make the progress and results of the research project known and available through proper and on-going reporting in various types of national and international media targeting the scientific and the lay audience. Due to constantly increasing subsoil water levels, environmental change and increasing pollution, and damage caused by growing numbers of tourists, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has launched an appeal to the international scientific community to take part in the conservation, consolidation, and documentation work of endangered sites and monuments which form part of our world heritage. One location in the Theban area under threat to disappear forever without having been properly studied or documented is the Station de Repos area situated on the cliff slope of the Valley of Kings. It consists of clusters of the Deir el-Medina based royal tomb builders temporary accommodation huts dating to the 19.–20. dynasties (1295–1069 BC).
The project will carry out the conservation and consolidation work required under its international partner and acting Field Director Elina Paulin-Grothe, Field Director of the MISR-excavation project (1998- ) of University of Basel in the Valley of Kings, and in co-operation with in the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).
The clearance of the site will serve to educate Finnish students of egyptology and archaeology in the way professional fieldwork in Egypt is undertaken. It, moreover, encompasses the doctoral research of three Ph. D. candidates (egyptology) of the University of Helsinki. New discoveries and proper documentation of the site contributes to our vast and varied source material on the Deir el-Medina society, and thus open up an important venue for multidisciplinary and multilayered research, spanning from palaeography, socio-linguistics, anthropology, religious, historical and archaeological
environmental studies to geomathics.
Keywords: ancient Egyptian architecture, ancient Egyptian art, ancient Egyptian history, ancient Egyptian culture, ancient Egyptian royal tomb-builders, ancient Egyptian workmen’s huts, Deir el-Medina, Egypt, history, social history, society
Text: Jaana Toivari-Viitala