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Polish Archaeological Mission at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna is an archaeological expedition to Qurna in Egypt (ancient Western Thebes, at the west bank of present-day Luxor). The mission works under the auspices of the Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, in cooperation with Adam Mickiewicz University. Since the beginning in 2003 the mission is directed by Tomasz Górecki (National Museum in Warsaw). In 2016 the work is run in the field by Andrzej Ćwiek (Adam Mickiewicz University and Poznań Archaeological Museum), the deputy director of the mission.

The site under research is an unnamed desert knoll beside Sheikh Abd el-Qurna hill, south of the Valley of the Kings and Deir el-Bahari. The knoll borders the valley behind Sheikh Abd el-Qurna where one of the pharaohs of the early Middle Kingdom period (ca. 2000 BC) started building his mortuary complex. Highest officials of the state cut their tombs in the slopes of hills surrounding the valley with their ruler’s planned burial. Two of these tombs, marked MMA 1151 and MMA 1152, are located on the abovementioned knoll. 

The tombs were several times re-used during the Pharaonic Period and in the Middle Ages the site was settled by Coptic monks who made their hermitage there, using the tombs and building new structures outside them. 

The still ongoing research on the remains of the hermitage, occupied from 6th through 8th century AD, gave the mission its popular name, included in its logo: Misja Eremu, which means "Mission of the Hermitage" in Polish. Among the finds from the hermitage were not only thousands of amphorae in which water was delivered to the monks, but also innumerous items of every day life and objects of handicraft made by the monks. The highlights of the excavations were parchment and papyrus books with some of the oldest Christian texts, discovered at the garbage dump on the slope of the hill.
 
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Starting from the season 2015 the research has been focused on the architecture, funerary equipment and other artifacts dating from the Pharaonic Period. This means first of all excavations in the rock-cut subterranean structures of the tomb MMA 1152, reaching the depth of over twenty meters. The work in a 18-meter deep burial shaft conducted in February 2015 required installation of a special construction above the shaft’s mouth and using sophisticated climbing equipment. 
 
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The most valuable item found in 2015 was the fragment of a linen velum – a veil for a sacred image, with names of Ptolemy XII and the goddess Isis written in brown ink. It must have been a gift of the pharaoh to the nearby temple of Deir el-Medina, found there and brought to the hermitage by scavenging monks. This inconspicuous piece of linen with the royal cartouches has some historical importance and has but few parallels.

The mission will be back to the site in February 2016 to continue excavations in MMA 1152. 

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Polish Archaeological Mission at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Egypt works under the auspices of the Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, in cooperation with Adam Mickiewicz University.
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... Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
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Adam Mickiewicz University,
Poznań, Institute of Prehistory
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