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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 02/23/2010 | 22379 Views | 3 | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

The mystery of Neferhotep (Egypt)

Itchy feet | Episode 1

Die drei Restauratorinnen Christina Verbeek, Susanne Brinkmann und Birte Graue treffen in Köln noch letzte Vorbereitungen, bevor sie nach Ägypten ins nahe bei Luxor und dem Tal der Könige gelegene Tal der Noblen reisen. Unterwegs schließen sich ihnen der Restaurator Stefan Lochner sowie die argentinische Ägyptologin Violetta Peyrera an, um die Gräberstadt der einflussreichen Privatpersonen Ägyptens zu untersuchen. Immer an ihrer Seite: Der Inspektor, dessen Anwesenheit die ägyptische Antikenverwaltung dem Forscherteam zur Bedingung für die Erteilung einer Sondergenehmigung gemacht hat.



Audio stream of the video

The Research Project
The tomb of Neferhotep is the largest private tomb in the necropolis of Thebes, which contains the tombs of some 800 officials and priests. Neferhotep (whose name means “perfect is mercy”) was the chief clerk of the creator deity Amun, and died around 1320 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Ay. His tomb was hewn from the rocks at the foot of the Theban mountain range close to the Valley of the Kings.

When, in the 19th century, English and French explorers discovered his grave, things didn’t exactly go to plan when excavating the tomb chamber. The burning of mummies coated the walls in soot, and the wall paintings and hieroglyphics were resultantly blackened beyond all recognition, such that their messages were lost without a trace.

Starting in 2005, three restorers, Susanne Brinkmann, Birte Graue and Christina Verbeek, have been trying to solve the puzzle of the blackened walls, to bring the wall painting back to life after more than 3,000 years buried beneath the soot. This requires investigative skills, excellent restoration expertise, interdisciplinary cooperation and the innovative use of modern technology. The idea: to remove the layer of soot from the painted walls using laser technology. In doing so, care is the absolute order of the day so as not to destroy any more of the irretrievable cultural treasures to be found in this burial chamber.

Other experts have likewise set their hopes of new knowledge on the restoration of these ancient messages: Who was Neferhotep? Which messages, images, colors, scripts adorn these walls? What can they tell us about life in Ancient Egypt? How can the walls – once uncovered – be preserved in the future?

The interpretation of the rediscovered artifacts is of upmost importance, particularly for Egyptologists. For Neferhotep’s tomb is no Pharaonic tomb strewn with gold, but the last resting place of a member of the upper-middle class and, for researchers, a unique source to find out more about everyday life in Ancient Egypt.”

The restoration team, led by Christina Verbeek, has used a video camera to document the daily challenges they faced in decrypting the blackened walls of this tomb.

Project leadership

Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen


Thebes (Egypt)

Academic project managers
Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen
Dr. Maria Violeta Pereyra
Dipl. Rest. Birte Graue
Dipl. Rest. Christina Verbeek

Film project managers
Dipl. Rest. Christina Verbeek
Dipl. Rest. Susanne Brinkmann M.A.
Dipl. Rest. Birte Graue

Editorial teams
Susanne Decker

Camera technicians
Stefan Lochner
Dipl. Rest. Christina Verbeek
Thomas Haupts

Editing technicians
Bernd Mattheus
Janine Negele

Project assitants / Actors
Maria Giorgia Di Antonio
Dipl. Rest. Susanne Brinkmann M.A.
Astrid Bronner
Dipl. Rest. Birte Graue
Thomas Haupts
Federica Iessi
Stefan Lochner
Daniele Mancini
Roberto Pellini
Dr. Maria Violeta Pereyra
Valentina Sabatini
Julian Sanchez
Laura Saraullo
Dipl. Rest. Christina Verbeek

Overall planning teams
Gisela Graichen und Peter Prestel

British Library London
Bodleian Library Oxford
Kunsthistorisches Institut Bonn
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

All episodes
Itchy feet
Episode 1
Why are the walls black?
Episode 2
Ancient Egyptian craftwork
Episode 3
An idea takes shape
Episode 4
High tech for Neferhotep
Episode 5
First successes
Episode 6
Bringing light into the dark
Episode 7
Strategies against decay
Episode 8
Solving the mystery
Episode 9
Success story
Episode 10


by Maya Meritay | 22.01.2013 | 12:43
...was eine wunderbare Arbeit!!!! Ich bin so sehr beeindruckt, wie Sie den Wandmalereien wieder ihr Leben zurück gegeben haben! Irgendwie berührt mich das zutiefst... weil ich weiß, welche Mühe, Arbeit und... Liebe zur Sache... dazu gehört. Viel mehr sagen kann ich dazu nicht.... außer, dass ich den falschen Beruf habe.... so etwas fantastisches zu schaffen, war seit frühester Kindheit mein Traum... Ich hoffe, sobald, wie möglich wieder in Ägypten, in Luxor sein zu können...


by Associate Prof. (ret.) Lanny Bell | 19.07.2013 | 17:45
Peter Manuelian has just called my attention to your conservation work in TT 49. This is very exciting-- for the tomb itself, for its date, for its later reuse, and for the use of advanced technology in your project. Congratulations and best wishes to you all! I look forward to the results of your discoveries. Incidentally, I am currently working on a revision of a lecture I present for the Archaeological Institute of America concerning the end of Dynasty XVIII and the family relationships of its various rulers.


by Michel H | 31.03.2017 | 22:32
Ein Großes danke für diese Aufteilung. Das ist fast zauberhaft, die Farben dieses Grabes wieder aufkommen zu lassen.

Michel H von Frankreich

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