EGU24-15733, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Condition assessment of limestone tombs Theban Necropolis (Luxor, Egypt)

Ákos Török and Tamás Zomborácz
Ákos Török and Tamás Zomborácz
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Engineering Geology and Geotechnics, Budapest, Hungary (

The Theban Mountain, on the west bank of the river Nile, near Luxor is internationally known as the burial site of Egyptian Dynasties. The current study focuses on four tombs dating back to the late Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period. The tombs are located on the hill's southern slope and were cut into the rock. Their geometry is characteristic since at least six horizontal rows were excavated above one another. Sedimentary rocks of the study area form parts of Tarawan Cretaceous, Esna Shale and Theba Limestone formations. All four tombs were once lavishly decorated with wall paintings and reliefs carved directly into the carbonatic rocks. Until now, these structures have gone through considerable erosion in addition to the occurring damages resulting from their reuse as modern habitations until the late 20th century. Thus, most of the tombs’ decorations have perished or heavily deteriorated. Since 1983 a Hungarian Archaeological Mission has been exploring the site. Numerous attempts have been made to reconstruct the fragmented walls and conserve the remaining works of art, however, very little effort has been made to understand the deterioration process and its origins. This research describes the geological conditions, petrology and sedimentology of local carbonates, fracture pattern, micro-climatic conditions of the tombs, and decay forms. Stratification, micro-cracking and discontinuities were also mapped. The painted and carved surfaces were documented, and the condition of the walls was assessed. On-site tests included moisture content measurements (vertical profiling) and the detection of surface strength by non-destructive methods. Sensors were placed at various parts of the tombs, recording temperature and relative humidity. The main trigger mechanisms of deterioration processes were identified and preservation measures were made. This study aims to provide an example that helps assess the conditions of rock-cut tombs in arid climates and the changes linked to micro-climatic conditions.

How to cite: Török, Á. and Zomborácz, T.: Condition assessment of limestone tombs Theban Necropolis (Luxor, Egypt), EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-15733,, 2024.