ARCE Project: Theban Tomb 110 (TT 110) Epigraphy & Research Field School

Theban Tomb (TT) 110 Epigraphy and Research Field School

ARCE-PA's Vice President, Dr. JJ Shirley is co-director of an ARCE funded project.  The Theban Tomb 110 project is an example of how ARCE National directly impacts our Chapter! 
JJ Shirley, Vice-President, ARCE-PA, in her home away from home, TT 110! To read more about the TT 110 team, see:

Theban Tomb (TT) 110 Entrance (photo by TT110 Expedition)

An Introduction to the Theban Tomb (TT) 110 Project Website:

Some information on the TT 110 conservation and field project from ARCE National:

From the ARCE Bulletin (Summer 2017)
JJ Shirley and Will Schenck, “TT 110 Epigraphy and Research Field School: Training Egyptian Antiquities Officials in Recording and Investigative Methodologies” ARCE Bulletin (210) Summer 2017. pp. 4-15.
"TT 110 Epigraphy and Research Field School: Training Egyptian Antiquities Officials in Recording and Investigative Methodologies"

TT 110 Epigraphy and Research Field School: Training Egyptian Antiquities Officials in Recording and Investigative Methodologies

JJ Shirley and Will Schenck

In 2012 the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), first began excavations in the area of Theban Tomb (TT) 110 as part of ARCE Luxor’s larger APS program of work. The tomb is a mid-18th Dynasty tomb located on the west bank of Luxor/Thebes at the northern end of the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna (Fig. 1). Since 2013, ARCE’s archaeology project has located the entrance to the tomb, which was buried under the hillside, carefully excavated the tomb’s original forecourt, pillared hall and burial shafts, as well as the shafts located within the forecourt space, and studied the archaeological materials they have found. This project was part of an ARCE-sponsored and Egyptian-led archaeological field school for inspectors. Once excavated, the tomb was also consolidated, conserved, and cleaned as part of a conservation field school run by ARCE Conservator Khadiga Adam from 2013-2016 (1). 

In 2014, following the work done by ARCE in excavating and conserving TT 110, archaeological illustrator William Schenck and I developed a new field school program in TT 110. For the past two seasons, the TT 110 Epigraphy and Research Field School has been financed through the generous support of ARCE via an Antiquities Endowment Fund (AEF) grant made possible by USAID funding. Grounded in the models of field schools such as those run by AERA and ARCE, our field school trains Egyptian MoA officials based in Upper Egypt in the documentation of the tomb’s scenes, inscriptions, artifacts, and history during a season that runs from mid-February through March. Only five students are chosen after a rigorous vetting process from a group of over 40 applicants from the MoA. Applicants are chosen on the basis of their drawing experience, crucial for successful epigraphy. The number of trainees was limited due to the small size of the tomb, but also to allow for an intensive and personal training for each student in epigraphy and research. In addition, in 2016 we decided to accept an additional three returning students from the previous Field School season so that they could build upon their earlier experience. Both the 2015 and 2016 Field School seasons ran for five weeks and were divided into three parts: one week in lectures; three weeks of intensive epigraphy and research or archaeological illustration; and a final week of review and presentations (2).

The current TT 110 project has two main goals: teaching the necessary epigraphy and drawing skills required to record the tomb, and training the Egyptian students in research and library skills that would provide them with the ability to prepare a tomb report or publication, incorporating what they had learned during the school. Thus far, this model has worked exceptionally well for both the epigraphy and research portions of the program. In epigraphy, each student now has a fundamental understanding of why epigraphy is important, what the steps are to undertake an epigraphy program within a tomb or on other carved items, and comes away with an “epigraphy tool kit” (Fig. 2) that contains the instruments they need to continue this type of work. Within the context of research, each student was assigned an open, published, tomb to study. They had three main research assignments and at the end of the season, each student presented the results of their independent tomb research to the larger group by giving them a tour of their assigned tomb in Arabic. In the second season (2016) we added a new component to the Field School, a pottery and object drawing course which was offered to our returning students. 

As a result of this course, each student will contribute to the future publication of the tomb. Their epigraphic training gave them each the ability to completely record a small section of the tomb and produce drawings of publishable quality. The research project engaged the students with their subject material in a way that expanded their approach to studying ancient Egyptian monuments. Their independent research, combined with their epigraphic knowledge of TT 110, instilled the students with the confidence to have thoughtful and complex discussions regarding the decoration and history of TT 110, as well as of the tomb’s epigraphic documentation program. Finally, the additional drawing course broadened the skill set of the returning students, making them proficient in other areas of archaeological illustration.

*All photographs are by the authors or participants of the Field School. 
(1) See the publication of their work by A. Bednarski, “ARCE’s Excavation of the Tomb of Djehuty (TT 110),” ARCE Bulletin 203 (Fall 2013): Cover, and also the ARCE website at:, and
(2)  The 2015 students were: Mr. Abd El-Ghany Abd El-Rahman-Mohamed, West Bank; Ms. Al-Shaimaa Mohamed Mahmoud, Karnak Temple; Mr. Alaa Hussein Mahmoud Menshawy, West Bank; Mr. Peter Fady Hanna, Karnak Temple; Miss Rasha Ahmed El-Ameen Ahmed, Sphinx Avenue. The 2016 students were: Mr. Ahmed Hajaj Hussien, Luxor Temple (Field School Inspector and student); Mr. Abu El Hagag Taye Hasanien, West Bank; Mr. Mohamed Ali Abu El Yazid, Sohag; Mr. Mahmoud Hassan El Azab, West Bank; Miss Nadia Ahmed Abd Ellatef, Luxor Temple; Mr. Sayed Mahmoud Mohamed El Rekaby, Kom Ombo; the returning students were: Ms. Al-Shaimaa Mohamed Mahmoud, Karnak Temple and Mr. Peter Fady Hanna, Karnak Temple. In addition, our assistants Mr. Hazem Helmy Shared Mohamed, Mr. Sayed Mamdouh El-Sayed, and Mr. Yaser Mahmoud Hussein participated in all aspects of the school during both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.