Shunet el-Zebib Documentation and Conservation

Project Directors: David O’Connor and Matthew D. Adams

Historic Era: Early Dynastic Period

Project Location: Sohag Governorate

1999 – 2006 and 2010 – 2014

The funerary monument of King Khasekhemwy in Abydos is also known as the Shunet el-Zebib. Little is known about King Khasekhemwy, the last king of the Second Dynasty, but his reign ended in 2686 BC, making Shunet el-Zebib among the oldest surviving mud-brick structures in the world and the best example of Egypt’s earliest tradition of royal mortuary building. Funding from the Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP) between 1999 and 2006 resulted in documentation and conservation of approximately 50% of the 200-meter perimeter using newly made mud bricks of the same size and originally sourced materials to re-establish structural integrity.

Follow-up funding provided under a subsequent USAID grant in 2010 enabled team members to continue with the stabilization and conservation of the enclosure, parts of which still risked collapse. The precarious situation at the Shunet el-Zebib was evidenced by its inclusion in the World Monuments Fund’s 2008 Watch List of the World’s 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Statement of Responsibility:

The conservation and documentation of King Khasekhemwy’s Funerary Monument at Abydos was implemented by the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, led by David O’Connor, Director, and Matthew Douglas Adams, Associate Director, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum-Yale University-Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Expedition to North Abydos, Egypt (William Kelly Simpson and David O’Connor, Co-directors) and in collaboration with consultants William C.S. Remsen (International Preservation Associates, Inc.), Anthony Crosby (Architectural Conservation, LLC), and Conor Power (Structural Technology, Inc.). Conservation work was made possible with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities).


Conservation of the monument was originally funded through the American Research Center in Egypt's Egyptian Antiquities Project (ARCE-EAP) under United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Agreement No. 263-G-00-93-00089-00 (1999-2006) and subsequently funded through ARCE's Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project (ARCE-EAC) under USAID Agreement No. 263-A-00-04-00018-00 (2010-2012).

    See King Khasekhemwy’s funerary monument on Google maps here

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