The Egyptian Irrigation Authority construction work cut through a New Kingdom cemetery of jar burials. They allowed one hour for the salvaging of over a dozen burials. A short essay about the jar burials can be found after the digital images.


Two village workmen help excavate a large wine jar used for a child burial.





In Situ photograph of storage jar used for a child burial, locus 202.





Drawing of storage jar used for a child burial, locus 202.





Drawing of child burial inside a storage jar, burial 211.




Drawing of a very large storage jar with a nipple base bowl placed upside down inside the jar. It seems probable that the bowl covered the skeleton of the child though no skeletal remains were observed in the rapid excavation of the jar.




The most fascinating jar burial of a child was burial 203 because three small faience amulets were in direct association with his neck.




Drawing of an eye amulet found in association with burial 203.




Drawing of an Egyptian god holding a staff found in association with burial 203. The third amulet was of the Egyptian god named Bes.




Storage jar used for jar burial of a child. Possibly a wine jar.




New Kingdom wall painting of vineyard workers with sealed wine jars that are similar to the jars used for child burials at Retaba.




Globular pottery jar found in association with burial 210. It measures 16 cm. tall with a rim diameter of 8 cm.




Drawing of a globular pottery jar found in the lose fill distrubed by construction. It measures 25 cm. tall with a rim diameter of 10.5 cm.




Elongated bottle form assumed to be a water container found as an offering amongst the jar burials.




Drawing of the painted elongated bottle found with burial 209. The bottle measures 33 cm. tall with a rim diameter of 11 cm.




New Kingdom painting from tomb 261 at Thebes showing elongated bottles used to water a vineyard. Tomb 261 is clled a nameless tomb in some reports while other cite it as the tomb of Khamwaset, pure-priest of king Amenhotep I, Dynasty 18.




An elongated jar with red slip on the rim from burial 205. This jar is 36 cm. tall with a rim diameter of 17 cm. It may have contained offerings or the body of a premature or newborn child.




Intact nipple base bowl from jar burials. These were very coarse made Nile Silt ware bowls.




Drawing of nipple base bowls from burials 202 and 204. The bowl from burial 202 has a diameter of 23 cm. and the bowl from burial 204 has a diameter of 24 cm.




Drawing of nipple base bowls from burials 212 and 213. The bowl from burial 212 has a diameter of 27 cm. and the bowl from burial 213 has a diameter of 26 cm.




Drawing of nipple base bowls from burial 206; it has a diameter of 27 cm.




Two mudbrick burial enclosures were detected north of the edge of Tell Tuneinir. One enclosure contained a clay coffin that contained a few splinters of human bone. No diagnostic artifacts were associated with the enclosed grave. It had been robbed.




Plan of the brick-for-brick mudbrick enclosure and clay coffin.



A highly significant discovery during the construction monitoring was the presence of a jar burial cemetery south of the tell. Naville in 1887 reported jar burials in the western portion of the site. The jar burials discovered during 1981 were designated loci 201 through 215. Jar burials loci 201, 214 and 215 were isolated interments while loci 202, 203, 207, 208, 209, 211, and 212 were concentrated along the west wall of the construction pit. The clustered loci also shared the common feature that they were entierh enclosed and/or caped by a mudbrick structure. For example, loci 202 and 203 had two coarses of mudbricks placed 40 cm. above the jar burials.

The jar burial in locus 202 consited of a handle-less storage jar and an associated nipple-base bowl. The base of the storage jar had been broken to allow insertion of a body (assumed to be a child based upon the size of the vessel). The broken base of the vessel had been rotated and inserted into the broken end in an attempt to close this opening. The nipple-base bowl had been placed across the mouth of the storage jar in an attempt to keep sand from filling the interior of the jar. Skeletal reains were not observed inside the storage jar in burial 202. Infant and subadult skeletons observed in other jar burials were extremely friable and impossible to preserved in the rushed rescued excavation.

Jar burial locus 203 was hit by the diesel shovel and its mouth was totally destroyed. The vessel contained the poorly preserved skeleton of a young child. The orientation of the jar burial was 32 degrees east of North. The cranium was placed in the bottom of the storage jar and the skull faced northwest. Placed with the skeleton were two amuletes and a barrel shaped bead. The amulets wre made of green faience, while the bead had been fround from quartz.

Jar burial locus 211 was made in a very large storage jar iwth opposing handles. A poorly preserved child's skeleton was discovered inside the jar with its face turned towards the northwest. Jar burial 204 was made in an exceptionally large storage jar with four equally spaced handles. A Nile Silt ware nipple base bowl had been placed upside down inside the storage jar. The location and orientation of the bowl suggests that was a food offering placed near the head of a child burial or that it was used to cover the head of a child.

The ware, surface texture, color and thickness of the jars used for child burials correspond closely to the broken rims and bases found in the excavation of the site. Likewise, the nipple base bowls found in association are very common on the site. The jar burials and accompanying grave offerings were being made in "common wares" used in everyday storage and food serving activities. The original use of the storage jars was probably for water, wine, or grain. None of the storage jars show evidence of pitch or lime lining. The Nile Silt ware nipple base bowls look like ration bowls for soldiers or workers.

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