A small wall, added to the roof during the 1912/1923 expansion has been removed after 1925. Also, what appears to be a triangular dome, has been removed after 1925. A round (fake) dome was added in 2004 or 2005 for the BBC documentary about Howard Carter.
fig. 4 Nina de Garis Davies in front of the house, around 1907, before expansion.
Adapted from the original image MSS 12.15 (copyright Griffith Institute, University of Oxford)
The current house has several rooms that can be classified as “living-” , or at least sleeping quarters. So it is quite possible that besides the Davieses, other members of the team stayed in the house as well, during excavation season. If not, the most likely explanation for so many rooms (see map) would be that they were used as storerooms and that later missions (e.g. the Austrian and German missions) used these rooms as sleeping quarters.
A garden might have been present at one time or another. One appears to be present in the 1925 photograph. It is definitely gone now. The whole area inside the fence used to be paved, as have all floors within the surroundings of the house. In some areas though, the pavement has been removed.
The adding of extra rooms to the house has been done by the same building method, still used in Egypt today: mud brick and layers of plaster within wooden frames. At the time of our photographic survey (March 2010 and March 2011),a lot of 60’s and 70's furniture and paraphernalia could be found inside; most likely used for the 2005 documentary.
fig. 5. The house after the 1912/13 expansion.
Clearly visible, the new wing added to the house and the “new” wall surrounding it.
MSS. 12.10 (copyright Griffith Institute, University of Oxford)
The house is now (March 2011) in use as a rest house for SCA inspectors, but wouldn't it be a great place to use as a base for excavation teams again!
Although the house has been restored during the time of the Austrian and German missions (the house was at that time in “a completely dilapidated state”), it could do with some more repairs in order to restore it to it’s former glory.
Especially inside the house there are lots of traces of “wear and tear”. Inside walls are damaged; wiring of electricity is dangerously exposed at some places; a lot of rubbish laying around both inside and out; windowpanes and doors could do with some new layer of paint.
Tiles in the courtyard should be restored to their former glory, sanitary facilities could do with some cleaning or replacement, but all in all, the house is in very good shape, considering it has been around for more than 100 years!
Using your imagination takes you back to the early 1900’s; to the glory days of discoveries in the area.
fig. 6. In some parts, railway tracks have been used for construction
In some parts, railway tracks have been used for construction. Most prominent location where you can see this, is when entering the courtyard from the main hall. There, the rail is used to support an overhang.
Reading from the text on the track (“Krupp 1897), the beam came from the German Krupp Iron factory. Although we cannot be sure, what it’s origin was, this is what Dr. Ralf Stemmel form the Krupp archives has to say about the tracks:
“According to our records in 1892 negotiations were held between the Krupp company and the firm “Friedrich Lenz” in Stettin, Germany, concerning the order of 14.000 tons of rails for a railway project in Egypt which was to be realized by Friedrich Lenz.
As projects like this take time to be finished it may be possible, that your rail stamped “1897” was a part of the delivery which followed the negotiations of 1892. This supposition may be backed by a notice of a Krupp workshop about the production of iron plates for the Egyptian railway authorities in 1897. Detailed information about the delivery of the respective rails unfortunately are not available.”
Another place, where railway tracks were used, is to the north of the main office. There too, they support a roof. Although not marked as originating from the Krupp factory, it is highly likely, that these were made by Krupp as well and were originally used for the mining carts, used to remove debris from excavation areas. This is what Dr. Stremmel had to comment:
“Referring to your question we have no further details about the rails delivered to Egypt but it surely may be possible that small rails for mining carts in the contracts were included as narrow-gauge railways usually are used for earthmoving works like constructing railway lines.”
During the time of the Austrian Mission
The Austrian Mission (Institute of Egyptology and Austrian Archaeological Institute) first used the Carter House for a while and then from 1978 onwards the Davies House as headquarters for their activities for the restoration and excavation of the tomb of Ankh Hor and the eastern part of the Assasif.
The Austrian Mission restored the Davies House which was at that time in a completely dilapidated state. Before they occupied the house it had already been in use as the office and residence of the local inspector, Mohamed el-Daly.
After Mohamed el-Daly had moved out, the House stayed uninhabited for some time until the Austrian Mission suggested to restore the house and to use it for their activities.
In the 1980’s, the German Mission to the Theban Tombs Project, directed by Karl-Joachim Seyfried used the Davies House as their base.
Mr. Seyfried also made quite an extensive report on renovations and took several “before” and “After” photographs of these renovations. Unfortunately, we have not been able to contact Mr. Seyfried yet, to hear about these renovations or see any of the photographs. We hope we can add this information in the near future.
In the late eighties or the early nineties the Antiquities Department, under Professor Sayed Tawfik, reclaimed the Davies House for the SCA.
The Construction of the house.
The same as most houses in the area, the “De Garis Davies” house has been constructed from mud-brick, covered with mud.
Over time, there have been a lot of additions to the house, the first time in 1912 and then again in 1913 en 1925.
Bits and pieces have been added and removed over the years and even a (fake) dome, which adorns the house today has been added for a BBC documentary about Howard Carter in 2005 (I wonder why they didn't use the original house).
fig. 7. A scene form the BBC Documentary, where the house was used as a "stand-in" for Howard Carter's house.
Most of the doors, windowpanes, tiles, etc. seem to be original, although one can never be sure for 100%. When Alan Gardiner said that it was a “hospitable house in the midst of the Theban tombs”, he was quite right.
With some renovation and proper care, I am sure that it could be used again as a dig house and make the people who would live there, feel at home in this magical environment. Especially since they have installed lights that shine on Hatshepsut’s mortuary Temple.
The house is divided into several parts:
Going right after entering the house you enter the office, To the left are three rooms: two larger ones that at one time must have been in use as living quarters and a smaller room, which could have been in use as a small office as well.
From the main hall you enter the courtyard in which there are two buildings: To the right a kitchen and storage facility, to the left you enter the toilets and three sleeping quarters. Immediately to the right, once you leave the main hall, is a storage room for water.
The other (storage) rooms can only be entered when you go around the outside. These have probably been stables of some kind or extra storage space.
The house is surrounded on one side by a stone fence (south side) and a mud-brick wall (north and west side).
In front of the house there’s a veranda.