Belgian excavations at El Kab, the city of the vulture goddess


The present-day city of El Kab is located on the eastern bank of the Nile, about 80 kilometres south of Luxor. It is here that the Belgian Egyptologist, Jean Capart, commenced excavations, starting in 1937. The most tangible result of these excavations was the drawing up of plans for the location of the temples. For 85 years, our excavations have continued at this site, yielding interesting discoveries.

In Antiquity the site was called Nekheb, home of the divine Nekhebet, the tutelary goddess of Upper Egypt and pre-eminent in the national pantheon. This region is distinguished by its particularly long period of settlement and the discovery of remains dating from the most ancient eras from prehistoric to Greco-Roman times.

In 1989, our Egyptologists were in the spotlight when they discovered two tombs in El Kab that had remained intact for 4,300 years. As soon as the slabs were removed, the archaeologists found, in the first tomb, a bronze mirror, a typically feminine object, bearing the name of a lady in hieroglyphs: Akh-irten, known to the king and priestess of the goddess Hathor. Progressing through the room, the skeleton of the deceased woman and her funerary furniture were removed piece by piece. The second vault contained a male skeleton, also surrounded by offerings, including vases made of hard stone, alabaster and copper; Egyptologists believe that it must be the husband of Akh-irten.

The Queen Elizabeth Egyptological Foundation and the Royal Museums of Art and History are still responsible for the excavation of this site, which was the centre of the cult of the goddess Nekhebet. Let's hope that new interesting discoveries await our archaeologists.