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Expeditions Past & Present

For the past 30 years, the University of Pennsylvania Museum (UPM) has conducted excavations and surveys at the site of Abydos, an important town site, cemetery, and cult center for the worship of Osiris. Excavations have revealed important information about the Archaic period (3000-2625 B.C.) including the discovery of royal boat pits and the enclosure of King Khasekhemwy. Continuing projects include that of Josef Wegner at the mortuary complex and adjacent town site of Pharaoh Senwosret III (1878-1841 B.C.) and Mary Ann Pouls' excavations in the Middle Kingdom cenotaph zone, which have also uncovered a small temple of Tuthmosis III (1479-1458 B.C.).

Josef Wegner discovering an ancient mayor's house at Abydos, summer 1999
Josef Wegner discovering an ancient mayor's house at Abydos, summer 1999

Excavation of the newly discovered temple of Thutmose III formed an important component of the archaeological research which the North Abydos project carried out in the spring of 1997. The small Eighteenth Dynasty structure was discovered in the course of the previous season of fieldwork, and our continuing excavation of the site has focused on articulating the unusual architectural plan of the temple, and recording the numerous fragments of beautifully carved and painted scenes and texts which once covered its limestone walls. This research will ultimately enable us to reconstruct the program of the temple's relief decoration and to understand the function of this significant structure within the larger context of the cult of Osiris at Abydos.

In 2013, an expedition led by the Penn Museum's Josef Wegner discovered the tomb of a previously unknown pharaoh at the southern Egyptian site of Abydos. The forgotten pharaoh, Woseribre Senebkay, confirmed the existence of an Abydos Dynasty dating from ca. 1650-1600 BC. Read more about this discovery.


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