ASA Restoration Project – The Three Tombs
The Three Re-Discovered Tombs of South Asasif
The tombs found by Dr. Elena were built for nobles of the 25th and 26th dynasties (between 747 and 525 BC). Each tomb was carved into the limestone bedrock, two stories below ground level. Because of their unique construction these tombs are considered more as sculpture than architecture, because stone was removed to create staircases, walls, ceilings, floors, pillars, rooms and doorways under the ground.
Because the tombs were underground, they were 15-20 degrees cooler that the village homes that were exposed to the intense summer sun above ground. A typical summer day in the South Asasif desert averages about 115 degrees. Many villagers occupied the tombs in order to escape the intense heat of summer.
The Tomb of Irtieru was found under the home of Ahmed Rassul, the village chief. His family had used her tomb as a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, barn and laundromat. The tomb’s ceilings were blackened with soot from fires used to cook food. Almost all of the wall carvings had been destroyed. An area that was used as a corral for animals was filled with over six feet of animal feces. Irtieru was the chief attendant to the daughter of a 26th dynasty king. The contents of her tomb had been stolen.
The second tomb found by Dr. Elena’s team was the 25th dynasty Tomb of Karabasken, the mayor of Waset, the capital of ancient Egypt. Waset was renamed Thebes by the Greeks and was later renamed Luxor by the Arabs. Village youth hung out in Karakhamun’s tomb during the day, and their families used it as a bedroom in the evening.
Unfortunately, the tombs of South Asasif were severely damaged by locals who used them as quarries. Large blocks of stone were removed to build homes, and the tombs were in imminent danger of collapse when they were discovered. All of the objects in both tombs had been stolen, wall carvings were destroyed and little evidence remained that would allow Dr. Elena to reconstruct the lives of the tombs’ original occupants.
The third tomb discovered was that of Karakhamun, the First Ak Priest of Amun at Karnak Temple. The ceiling of Karakhamun’s tomb collapsed during a storm and flood in the 1990’s. The villagers used the sunken pit as a trash dump. This unfortunate act was also a blessing because it prevented the Rassul’s from occupying and further destroying Karakhamun’s tomb, as they had destroyed the tombs of Karabasken and Itieru.
Dr. Elena concentrated her initial excavation efforts in the Tomb of Karakhamun, where the most significant number of discoveries have been found. The tombs of Karabasken and Karakhamun were the first Kushite tombs built at South Asasif. The quality of their construction suggests that they were likely members of the 25th Dynasty’s royal family.
The 25th Dynasty Kings were from Kush, the country south of Kemet, now known as Sudan. These Kushite Kings conquered Kemet, which had declined after a long period of political turmoil and had been ruled by foreign kings and petty warlords in the 8th Century, BCE.
The Kushite Kings declared a holy war against the foreign invaders of Kemet and drove them out of the country. Once the borders were secured, they proceeded to rebuild temples and monuments, and restore “the land of their ancestors,” who lived 2000 years earlier during the Pyramid Age.
Kushite Kings ruled Kemet for almost 100 years, and they are the only Black rulers of Egypt who are acknowledged by mainstream Egyptologists. However, Dr. Elena is one of a handful of Egyptologists who acknowledge that the Ancient Egyptians were also “black” and the Kushites were their descendents. Dr. Elena has been ostracized by her colleagues for addressing this historical truth, and has received little support from traditional funding sources.
The important discoveries made at the tombs of Karakhamun and Karabasken since 2009 have occurred because of the financial support of the ASA Restoration Project. The discoveries have been acknowledged by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities and are helping shed light on a forgotten chapter of Egyptian history.
The 25th Dynasty is important because it is the earliest recorded renaissance in history. It connects the last chapters of ancient Egyptian history with the beginning, and documents over 3,000 years of African leadership and excellence throughout the Nile Valley.
The five rulers of the 25th Dynasty comprised one African family. They were:
- Piankhi: 747 – 715 BCE
- Shabaka: 715 – 702 BCE (Brother of Piankhi)
- Shabatka: 702 – 690 BCE (Older Son of Piankhi)
- Taharka: 690 – 664 BCE (Younger Son of Piankhi)
- Tanutamen: 664 – 657 BCE (Son of Shabaka) The last Kushite King of Kemet
The 25th Dynasty was the last of Kemet’s four Golden Ages. They were:
- 1st Golden Age – Old Kingdom: Dynasties 3-6 (2665-2160 BCE / Pyramid Age)
- 2nd Golden Age – Middle Kingdom: Dynasties 11-12 (2040-1784 BCE / Literary Age)
- 3rd Golden Age – New Kingdom: Dynasties 18-19 (1554-1190 BCE / Temple & Imp. Age)
- 4th Golden Age – Late Kingdom: Dynasty 25 (747-657 BCE Revival Age)
Dr. John Henrik Clarke referred to the 25th Dynasty as “Egypt’s last great walk in the sun.” Dr. Asa Hilliard called the 25th Dynasty “Kemet’s Last Golden Age.” Both men taught us to study the content of African History in context with World History.
With the aid of Dr. Hilliard’s Timeline of the Four Golden Ages of Kemet, we can view the content of Kemetic history within a larger historical and cultural context and link it with the cultures of ancient Nubia, Kush and Ethiopia. This new worldview allows African Americans a unique opportunity to reconnect the shattered pieces of our history, restore ancestral memories and reclaim a legacy that has been lost, stolen and marginalized.
The ASA Restoration Project is dedicated to the restoration of the Kushite presence in Kemet and the preservation of the legacy of Dr. Asa Hilliard, III. We will continue to raise funds for the excavation, conservation and restoration of the newly discovered tombs of South Asasif and organize excavation missions. With the establishment of the Dr. Ivan Van Sertima Cultural Circles, we will teach youth and adults African history and encourage them to become advocates and defenders of their culture.