Sunday, February 03, 2019

Swedish Ambassador to Egypt, H.E. Jan Thesleff, visits Gebel el-Silsila

The Swedish Mission at Gebel el-Silsila was honoured by a two-day visit of the Swedish Ambassador to Egypt, H.E. Jan Thesleff, and second Secretary Mr. Ahmed Ismail this last week. They arrived in the midst of this year’s worst sandstorm, but nevertheless shared a great meal with the team and visited some of the monuments of the West Bank.

greeting on the boat during the storm, little Jonathan had the great honor to meet H.E. our ambassador

Bio-archaeologist Poppy shows H.E. Ambassador Thesleff and Secretary Ahmed some of the osteological finds

PhD scholar Moamen Saad introduces the speos

in the midst of the storm!

Chef Abdalla presented a great lunch to share while the storm was raging

Moamen Saad talks about the reliefs of the speos
end of day one, group photo as the storm calms
Returning to a calmer, sunlit site the following day, H.E. Ambassador Thesleff and Mr. Ahmed Ismail were accompanied by Mr. Abdel Moniem, General Director of Aswan and Nubia, Mr. Khaled Shawky, Director of Abu Simbel, Mr. Mostafa Badawi, representative for the Kom Ombo Inspectorate, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Inspector of Gebel el-Silsila, and Mdm Zienab, representing the Kom Ombo Museum. 

Mr. Abdel Moniem greets H.E. Ambassador Thesleff

arriving to the cemetery

The team was incredibly honoured to show the most recent discoveries in the 18th Dynasty cemetery, which marked the start of a lovely walk through the marvellous landscape of Gebel el-Silsila. Walking eastwards, there were glimpses of a unique Epipalaeolithic Rock Art panel and some bushy tailed giraffes characteristic for the Predynastic period, below which is a quarry (Q7) belonging to the period of Amenhotep III-IV, crowned by the famous stele of Amenhotep IV presenting offerings to Amun-Re.

Mr. Abdel Moniem explains the site to H.E. Ambassador Thesleff 

look carefully and you will find the predynastic giraffes!

The walk continued into the subterranean galleries of the same period, leading to another site of new discoveries this season: the “Fallen Monuments’ Quarry” (Q15). For those interested, the discoveries will be released soon, and the start of the excavations was filmed by a UK production company earlier this year to be aired during the spring!

outside the galleries of Amenhotep III-IV

Silsila beetles?

photographer Bob photographing photographer Moamen

inside the gallery

The group returned to the cemetery, and H.E. Ambassador Thesleff was shown the waterlogged tomb that reached the news recently. Meanwhile Chef Abdalla John had prepared a fabulous lunch, which everyone shared on site. It was a great honour for the international mission to personally introduce each one of our fabulous Egyptian workers, without whom none of the work on site would be possible. Sharing lunch together, side by side, was a great reminder of how close this great Silsila family is!

Group image, although excluding key figures such as chef Abdalla,
reis Ahmed, photographer Bob, bio-archaeologist Poppy...

Fine dining on site!

John showing the waterlogged shaft-tomb

H.E. Ambassador Thesleff greeting Hamoudi, one of our great workers!

As a final stop before ending this great visit, PhD scholar Moamen Saad shared his latest research of the magnificent Nile stelae and chapels, which after this season’s excavations have revealed more information and architectural elements (once destroyed or buried during an ancient earthquake!).

walking down the new steps made this season

Similar to H.E. Ambassador Charlotta Sparre, who stood on these steps during her visit to Gebel el-Silsila two years ago, H.E. Ambassador Jan Thesleff paid his respect to the site as he climbed the royal staircase of Ramses II!

The team would like to express its deepest gratitude to H.E. Ambassador Thesleff and Mr. Ahmed Ismail, as well as all the representatives from the Egyptian Antiquity Ministry, for honouring us with their visit, making a great contribution towards strengthening the ties between Sweden and Egypt. On behalf of all the people represented in the images, we would also like to express our thankfulness towards our awesome photographers, without whom we would not be able to share these glimpses. Thank you Mr. Robert Mittelstaedt (our chief photographer), Mr. Ahmed Monsour (Reis), PhD scholar Moamen Saad, and archaeologist Trisha Coletto! An extra thank you dear Abdalla Ali/John for presenting two great dinners for us to share!

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Dear all,

Prior to this, our Season 12, we put in process a massive Kickstarter campaign targeting work in the Temple of Sobek on the East Bank of Silsila. We were overwhelmed as we reached our goal and thereby secured the continuation of work at this particular site. As part of this campaign, our backers were able to choose between various rewards, of which one was an official thank you here on our blog. After receiving our backers’ approval, the time has now come for us to publically thank each one of you who made this work possible! Please find the list of backers, arranged alphabetically, below (including some whom wished to remain anonymous).

Image of the western structure from last season

So, what are the results thus far? Well, one of the main achievements is that we have physically connected the Main Temple with the Western Structure by removing, sifting, and analysing the massive mound of silt, soil and archaeological remains known to the team as “Temple Mound”. We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated Egyptian workers for being patient, understanding and willing to continue the daily battle against this mound, including its modern hard spoil left from the building of the adjacent modern canal. Without our workers aid, we would not have been able to reach such great results in one season!

connecting the structures, here showing a part of the mound still in situ

Workers taking on the Mound during the previous season. Photo by Anders Andersson

Connecting the structures - in progress. Photo by Anders Andersson

Excavations of the western structure have so far focused on its central part, in which a circular rock-cut structure was revealed, and thus far reaches some 5-6 m below the ground. Work is still ongoing, and has now changed from sand and soil archaeology to excavations of wet mud as a pump is required to remove the ground water from therein.

View of the western structure, including its circular centre

What may there be?

3D model of work progress. Photogrammetry by John Ward

Connecting the two structures and excavating the circular structure has resulted in a large amount of fragments from the once magnificent Temple of Sobek. With over 500 sandstone fragments, nearly 200 limestone details, various small finds (including evidence that links Silsila with Roman Gaul!), and thousands of ceramic sherds, we consider the work in the temple a great success. However, we are not finished yet! Work will continue until the end of our season, after which we hope to begin putting together a beautiful book on Sobek as promised our backers of the campaign.
Limestone detail revealing a part of Men-Kheper-Re, i.e. Thutmosis III

Limestone detail of the little rower man, a glyph that forms the first sign in the ancient name of Silsila: "Kheny"!

If YOU would like to sponsor the project, helping us reveal more information about the Temple of Sobek – or the newly discovered subterranean shaft tomb, aid us with funds to employ more workers, buy a new pump or other important equipment, please support us by donating on our Friends of Silsila webpage!

Finally, with this short update, we would like to thank you all for your support and encouragement, and to wish you all the best for a Happy, Prosperous, Healthy and Adventurous New Year 2019!


THANK YOU for your support in “Finding Sobek”

Elisabeth Ahlsen
Jane Akshar
Jens Allwood
Anders Andersson
Tove Andersson
Pierre Arnold III
Paul Bagheri-Poubanne
Annelise Baer
Mary Banks
Elaine Barke
Lida Barmala
Shannon Beltz
Shelby Beltz
Karin Berggren
Nils & Anna Carin Billing
Erin Bisson
Susanna Blåndman
Ann Brun
John Burn
Jeff Burzacott
Yvonne Buskens-Frenken
Etta Chatterjee
Mats Cullhed
Lynn Couture
Annica Dahlström
Katie Davenport-Mackey
Sharon Davidson
Darryl Dobson
Jennifer Dyer
Rudi Endresen
Françoise Entelis
Raphael Epand
Nils Essle
Isabella Faroppa
Raquel Agrás Flores
Melanie Friederichs
Yishay Gabrieli
Linda Garza Hansen
Bronwyn and Peter Harrison
Carole Gillis
Richard Grant
Sven Grimm
Tiffany Hall
Diane Hanger
Beverley Haystead
Debra Hayward
Andy Hicks
Brenda Hill
Kristoffer Holmén
Sofia Häggman
Inger Jakobsson
Tony Jibbefors
Dr. Kim A Jobst DM FRCP MFHom
Sasha K (Sobekemiti)
Sölve Kajanus
Maria Karlman Noleryd
Allan King
Josa Kärre
Matthew King
Lena Kristensson
Niklas Kärrman
Anna Lagaron
Lars Larsson
Stephen Lazenby
Susan Lea
Marie Lebeau
Petra Lether
Tom Lesniewski
Jeszika Le Vye
Emma Libonati
Ulrika Lindblom-Nilsson
Stephanie Lindeburg
Anna Lindqvist
Ted Loukes
Andrea Lundberg Blank
Dan Madsen
Elisabeth Maubert
Beatrice Mackenzie
Flore Mayvial
Chandler McGowan
Denise McGrath
Françoise Meyer
James Miller
Kyra van der Moezel
Glyn Morris
Krista Moyls
Charlie Nilsson
Fredrik Nilsson
Gunhild Nilsson
Johan Nilsson
Lill Nilsson
Maria Nilsson
Svante Nilsson
Miss Leanne Northrop
Hans Nyman
Ingemar Nyman
Jennifer OConnell
Helen Ollett-Nash
Eva Oredsson
Kim Nelson & Jackson Ovadia
Patrick Patzer
Leena Pekkalainen
Jenny Persson
Julie Phillips
Alban-Brice Pimpaud
Carolyn Prior
Berit Prohaszka
Johanna Rex
Sue Retzer
Britnee Ricks
Carlo Rindi Nuzzolo
Abby and Bryn Roberts
Peter Robinson
Richard Rossi
Vincenzo Salvatore Pannone
Benita Schreuder
Astrid Segmar
Brian & Pam Silverian
Robert Skinner
Amanda Slack
Mrs Julie Smith
Martin Smith
Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Rocci Stucci
Pia Svanbom
Sofia Svensson
Kevin Swanson
Robert and Olivia Temple
Karen Thomas
Jen Thum
Debbie Tily
Ian Tompkins
Dr. CMCl Toporow
Paula Tutty
Margareta Törngren
Vanellus Trust
Juliane Unger
Julie Villaeys
John Ward
Charlotte Weaver
Judith Weingarten
Tobias Werner
Gertie Werner-Bäumer
James Whitfield
George Wood
Robin Young
Renée Zetterlund

Lihi Zilverberg

If you are a backer and connot find your name on the above list, please send us a quick email and we will update the page! 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

NEW DISCOVERY! Intact mass grave discovered in Gebel el-Silsila

Today, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquity went out with the press release of our latest discovery, announced by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, General Secretary. Here is the update!

The Swedish-Egyptian mission at Gebel el-Silsila, Aswan Region, led by Dr. Maria Nilsson and John Ward (Lund University), under the supervision of the inspectorates of Aswan and Kom Ombo, has discovered an undecorated shaft tomb (5 m deep) with two chambers dating to the 18th Dynasty (Thutmosid period). The tomb is water filled and requires pumping to allow excavations. Since a recent looting attempt in the tomb is also filled with sand and silt, and the extent of damage that was caused to the monument is still to be assessed. Mr. Abdel Moniem, General Director of Aswan and Nubia, says that the team is currently estimating the preservation of the tomb, as the movement of water and sand has caused great disturbance to the interior, artefacts and osteological remains, but it appears to be intact and undisturbed from looting. So far, the team has discovered three sandstone sarcophagi, two of which have been excavated, revealing an infant and a young child. The third sarcophagus was also made for an infant; its contents await excavation. 

View from the shaft into chamber 1. Photograph by Anders Andersson

The team (l-r: Ibrahim, John, Ali, Ahmed) prepare one of the child sarcophagi to be lifted

View to the south-east of chamber 1, including the niche

The burial goods contain several artefacts of importance, including dozens of scarabs, amulets, beads, seals, bracelets, large amphorae, beer jugs, bowls, pilgrim flasks, and various storage jars, etc. 

Lotus-shaped amulet

Men-Kheper-Re scarab, photograph by Anders Andersson
Shabti figure
Hair bead

Chronologically, there are indications of at least three generations, ranging from Thutmosis II to Amenhotep II (c. 3400 years ago). Exceptionally, the team has documented the remains of so far a minimum of over 60 individuals (2/3 adults and 1/3 children) have been discovered, but with excavations still ongoing the team estimates the amount to increase. No other tomb documented at Gebel el-Silsila previously has contained such a high number of entombed individuals. One of the more important results of the discovery at Gebel el-Silsila is the amount of buried children and women, indicating that there was a complete society with entire families living and working in ancient Kheny. Excavations are scheduled to continue until the end of the year.

For further information, access to images, etc. please contact us via email, Lund University or Past Preservers (

Monday, August 27, 2018

Congratulations Mohamed Mohsen

Today we wish to make a more personal update, not so much from the field, but regarding one of our Egyptian colleagues, as we congratulate inspector Mohamed Mohsen on his wedding day! 

Mohamed has been with the Silsila team since our Season 2 (10 seasons ago!), and has grown not only as a person, but also as a fabulous photographer! 

Since we cannot celebrate Mohamed in person today, we wish to congratulate him by a series of photos of his time at Silsila. 

Congratulations dear Mohamed, and all the luck, happiness, love and positive abundance to the two of you!

Climbing his way to the top! Photo by Anders Andersson

Photograph of the photographer, by Anders Andersson

Giving scale to the tomb, photo by Anders Andersson

Photo of the photographer, by John Ward

in the field, photograph by John Ward

First day of Season 2, our Naos Quarry (GeSE.Q37), photo by John Ward

Always at work, photo by John Ward

Mohamed at his best! photo by Maria Nilsson