The Egyptian warrior buried with his bows
A Spanish team has just discovered the tomb of an archer from 2,000BC21 February 2008
BARCELONA - "Loosen your bow, let your arrows fly," reads The Tale of Sinuhe, the great narrative text from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. The phrase would serve well as an epitaph for Iqer, an archer from the same era - some 4,000 years ago - whose tomb has just been discovered by a Spanish team of archaeologists.
The discovery of the grave, complete with bows and arrows, was made during the excavation of the Djehuty and Hery tombs in the Dra' Abu el-Naga' necropolis to the west of Luxor. The mummified body of Iqer is located inside a wooden coffin inscribed with hieroglyphics, which include his name.
"The burial site is intact and in very good condition," says José Manuel Galán, the director of the team and Egyptologist from Spain's Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), speaking by phone from his operational headquarters. "The inscriptions on the coffin [...] are beautiful, with invocations of Osiris, Anubis and Hathor," he continues. "Next to the coffin, we have found five arrows fired into the ground, with their feathers intact. Inside the coffin there are two longbows, with their strings still attached, albeit broken."
It's too early to tell whether the bows had been used, or whether Iqer has the hard pads on his fingers normally seen on archers. However, it is almost certain that he was a master of archery, and was most likely a military man or a warrior.
"That's what the burial would suggest," says Galán. "We can't be sure that he was a general, but he certainly wasn't a private." Iqer, which as an adjective means "the excellent," was a common name during this period. The mummy, covered with a shroud and papyrus, has not yet been studied.
The discovery is the culmination of the seventh outing for the Djehuty Project, which has seen the excavation of the funeral chamber of the nobleman. The next task will be to explore the next chamber along, which is filled both with rubble and further high hopes of the team.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / JACINTO ANTÓN 2008]
Subject: Spanish news