This week’s Digest is dedicated to the American Petrie—George Andrew Reisner. Inside: Khafre’s Valley Temple, Menkaure’s complex, Hetepheres’ “tomb”, Reisner in Nubia, fantastic artifacts, tons of photography and a special supplement by Yvonne Buskens on finding online textual resources.
Contributors: Géraldine Ashby, Yvonne Buskens, Ia Georgia, Lyn Green, Natalia Klimczak, Heidi Kontkanen, Vicky Metafora, Richie O’Neill, Keith Payne, Keith Schengili-Roberts, Sarah Shepherd, and Jean Smith. Very special thanks to Harvard University, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Giza Archives Project.
George Andrew Reisner (1867—1942)
From The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson
“Born in Indianapolis of German parents, [George Reisner] at first studied law at Harvard, but in 1893-96 he acquired a travelling fellowship enabling him to study Semitic languages at Berlin University, eventually gravitating toward Egyptology…Reisner’s long-term excavations at Giza, Mag el-Deir, Kerma and Deir el-Ballas relied largely on the financial assistance of philanthropist Phoebe Apperson.
“At the Nubian sites of Nuri, el-Kurru, and Gebal Barkal (Napata) he discovered the pyramidal tombs of 73 Nubian rulers, including the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty pharaohs (747—656 BC). His attention to detail, which involved the earliest Egyptological use of section drawings as well as plans, resulted in lengthy reports…describing such monuments as the valley temple of Menkaure and the shaft-tomb of Queen Hetepheres I at Giza. The latter was his most famous discovery, since it still contained much of the queen’s funerary equipment, although the body itself seems to have been buried elsewhere. Reisner contributed several volumes to the catalogue of antiquities of the Egyptian Museum at Cairo” (p. 243).
A Little Known Giant: George Andrew Reisner
(From Giza 3D introductory material)
“Born in Indianapolis in 1867, George Andrew Reisner fell in love with ancient Egypt early on. He studied at the prestigious Harvard University, and then in Berlin, where he learned ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
“He arrived in Egypt aged thirty, and after contributing to the catalogue of the Cairo Museum’s collections, he began his first excavations.
“George Reisner quickly distinguished himself by his novel working methods, which laid down the basis for modern scientific Egyptology. He made plentiful use of photography on glass plates, a key element in his excavation process, and drew up a methodical classification of all the objects and information collected in the field, contributing to the incomparable wealth and clarity of his expedition reports.
“In 1904, he began work on what was to be his Magnum Opus: the Giza necropolis. In forty years of excavations, he unearthed thousands of remains and works of art, and left a thorough catalogue of his explorations, with some forty-five thousand photographic glass plate negatives, tens of thousands of pages of diaries, manuscripts, and reports, countless maps, diagrams, notes and copious correspondence. It was one of the longest and most fruitful excavation missions in the history of Egyptology and archaeology, under the aegis of Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) in 1905. Reisner eventually became Harvard professor of Egyptology and MFA curator, posts he held for the rest of his life.
“Nearly blind, George Reisner was still actively directing excavations, dictating his instructions and reports to his collaborators, when he died in 1942 at his beloved “Harvard Camp,” just west of the pyramid of Khafre. He lies buried in Cairo’s American Cemetery, not far from the Plateau to which he had devoted the better part of his life.”
A Worthy Successor to Petrie
From Kent R. Weeks’ “Archaeology and Egyptology” in Egyptology Today, Richard Wilkinson, ed.
“One Egyptologist in particular stands out as a worthy successor to Petrie, and he, too, pushed Egyptian archaeology away from its pot-hunting past towards a more intellectually disciplined future. George Andrew Reisner was a highly respected Egyptologist who dug at many Egyptian sites. Supported by Phoebe Hearst and the University of California, Reisner worked as Deir el-Ballas and Naga ed-Deir, Middle Egyptian sites with extensive predynastic cemeteries, and at several major sites in Egyptian and Sudanese Nubia. But his principal work was at Giza, where he served as director of the Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Giza Expedition. Reisner’s work at Giza was brilliant—careful, precise, and meticulous, with a heavy emphasis on thorough record-keeping. Like Petrie, he trained his Egyptian workmen well: they kept their own field notes and took photographs as they worked. Even today, it is unusual to find projects that keep such detailed records or teach their local staff proper archaeological methodology.
“Reisner’s work resulted in several masterful publications, ‘Mycerinus’ (1931), ‘The Development of the Egyptian Tomb’ (1936), ‘A History of the Giza Necropolis’ (1942), and ‘The Tomb of Hetep-heres’ (1955), all of them massive works of the highest scholarly quality. If Reisner can be faulted for anything, it was his decision to delay publishing his extensive work in Giza’s Great Western Cemetery until all its tombs had been excavated. He wanted to wait and prepare a multivolume, chronologically ordered synthesis of the data. Unfortunately, Reisner died before that could be done, and his boxes of notes are only now being assembled and published. But the data are all there, in his notes and those of his workmen, and sixty years after his death, Reisner’s Giza is being accurately reconstructed from those remarkable records by a number of scholars” (p. 12).
“Diving into a tomb when an enemy plane appeared…”
From Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs by Barbara Mertz
“Reisner was one of America’s finest archaeologists. The accuracy and detail of his excavation reports set new standards for the profession; his work at Giza and in the Sudan produced definitive information on large areas of Egyptian history and archaeology. Much of Reisner’s later work was carried on under the threat of eventual blindness. Several operations for cataracts proved unsuccessful, but Reisner never stopped working on his magnum opus, a study of the architectural development of the Egyptian tomb, which is now a basic reference book. With limited sight and increasingly feeble health he continued digging throughout World War II, diving into a tomb when an enemy plane appeared over the pyramids. He died during the war, still in harness; neither blindness nor worldwide conflict kept him from his work” (p. 68).
Giza and Camp Harvard
Dividing Up the Giza Necropolis
From The Complete Pyramids by Mark Lehner
“’The excavator is a destroyer; and the object which he destroys is a part of the record of man’s history which can never be replaced or made good. He must approach fieldwork with a full consciousness of that fact. The only possible justification for his proceeding is that he endeavor to obtain from the ancient site which he destroys all the historical evidence that it contains.’ –George Reisner
“After 23 years of [Auguste] Mariette uncovering tombs, temples and pyramids, Egyptologists from Egypt, Germany, France, Britain and the United States were eager to dig for themselves. When Gaston Maspero took over as Director of Antiquities he began granting concessions to scholars who directed large clearing operations funded by foreign institutions and benefactors, while other worked in the employ of the Antiquities Service.
“During the season of 1901-02, Gaston Maspero…asked the Italian, German and American missions to divide up the Giza necropolis between them for excavation. When lots were drawn for the Western Cemetery, George Reisner of the Harvard—Boston Expedition was awarded the northernmost three strips. He later inherited the southern strip when Ernesto Schiaparelli gave up the Italian concession. Herman Junker of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo drew the middle strip. Reisner’s concession at the Eastern Cemetery ended at the ridge that forms the northern boundary of the Sphinx’s ‘amphitheater’. Finally, Reisner’s concession included the pyramid of Menkaure, with its mortuary and valley temples and the small pyramids of his three queens. Khafre’s pyramid complex was conceded to the Germans who excavated the pyramid and valley temple under Uvo Holscher in 1909. The Sphinx itself, and the area in front, was excavated by the Antiquities Service under Emile Baraize from 1925 to 1934, and then by Selim Hassan from 1936 to 1938.” (pp. 59; 64).
An “Office” to Dream Of…
From “March 1912: A Month in the Life of George Reisner” by Peter Der Manuelian, KMT Vol. 7, no. 2, Summer 1996
“What was it like to command a small army of workmen, recovering new scientific data and artistic masterpieces in the shadow of the Giza Pyramids, the most famous archaeological site in the world? Not excitement enough? How about also being curator at one of the most important art museums in the United States and professor of Egyptology at prestigious Harvard University, to boot? How did it feel?
“Well, if you were George Andrew Reisner (1867—1942) living at “Harvard Camp,” just southwest of the Great Pyramid on the Giza Plateau, it was just another day at the “office.” How many times between 1900 and 1942 did the early morning sun cast the shadow of the Pyramid of Khafre like a finger pointed at the archaeologist’s bedroom in the desert complex of little houses, signaling the start of another day of discoveries at Giza?
“Far from the bustle of a growing Boston…Reisner worked away at the pyramids, unraveling the history of the Old Kingdom and the development of one of the most elaborate royal and private burial-complexes ever conceived” (pp. 60-61)
Khafre’s Valley (not Sphinx) Temple
The Purpose of the Pyramid Temples
From “Solving the Riddle of the Sphinx” by George A. Reisnser in Cosmopolitan Magazine no. 53, 1912
“Now every Egyptian grave serves two purposes and consists of two essential parts. In a chamber under the ground lies the body, walled up and secured against decay and spoliation. Above ground a mound of bricks or masonry marks the grave, and presents a place where the living may meet the dead with offerings and magic words which will secure to the spirit of the dead its daily bread and protection from evil. For it must be remembered that an essential part of Egyptian religion was the belief in another life after death. In some unseen way the personality of the dead man continued after death as a spirit, but with the same necessities, the same fear of the frightful evil demons, the same work, and the same pleasures on earth. With the body was buried all those pots and pans, weapons and implements, adornments and garments which he had needed on earth. Food and drinks were also placed in the grave, but these were not lasting, and it was the duty of the dead person’s relations to renew them from time to time. Kings and great men established endowments to provide for their necessities after death.
“Thus it was that each pyramid not only contained the burial-place of a kind, but also presented on the side nearest the valley a chapel for the presentation of offerings and the performance of necessary rites. The pyramids with their temples stand high up on the rock plateau. For convenience, or some other reason which we do not know, a second chapel was built below on the edge of the valley, and was connected with the upper temple by a causeway.
“An examination of the area about the Second Pyramid made in the light of these considerations shows that the tomb of Chephren [Khafre] consists of the Second Pyramid, containing the actual burial place, the offering temple on the east side of the pyramid, a rectangular enclosing wall about these two, a long causeway with a covered corridor leading to the granite temple (the so-called Sphinx Temple), and the Granite Temple itself, which is the valley or portal temple of the funerary precincts of Chephren. The Sphinx appears to belong to this complex, which was apparently carved from the ridge of rock left by the quarrymen of Cheops [Khufu]. It is only necessary to understand the form and function of the Sphinx to see that it does indeed belong to the Chephren funerary complex.”
On The Valley (not Sphinx) Temple and Dating the Sphinx
From Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin Vol. IX No. 50, by George Reisner
“The care with which the temples of Mycerinus [Menkaure] were excavated enabled us to unravel the history of the construction and the decay of the different buildings on the site. The positive proof was given that our statues were of the fourth dynasty, and that in the fourth dynasty pyramids had valley temples. Thus the final proof was delivered that the Granite or Sphinx Temple was the valley temple of the Second Pyramid, the tomb of Chephren [Khafre]. At the same time dispute about the date of the great diorite statue of Chephren and of the Sphinx itself was finally laid to rest. Exactly those characteristics of the Chephren statue and of the Sphinx which were supposed to be of later date were found in our statues, and these arguments fell to the ground. It was therefore necessary to return to the a priori probable view that these monuments are of the time of Chephren himself” (p. 20).
A Dingy Chapel and Some Masterpieces of Art
From Mountains of the Pharaohs by Zahi Hawass
“Menkaure’s complex, as completed by Shepseskaf, gives us a great deal of information about royal funerary cults in general and his cult in particular…The complex was excavated in the early to mid-1900s by one of the great pioneers of archaeology, George Reisner; discovered within Menkaure’s temple were a large number of statues, which rank among the greatest sculptures of the Old Kingdom.
“Remains of a village housing the priests who served Menkaure’s cult have been excavated in the area around and inside his lower temple. Part of this village was excavated by Reisner, who uncovered eleven small mud-brick houses and round granaries; there are more building here that remain to be uncovered. Artifacts found in the houses of the priests include pottery types spanning the Fourth to Sixth Dynasties. Reisner believed that the earliest houses were built inside the courtyard of the lower temple and that the city continued to expand from this area. It is more likely, however, that the house for Menkaure’s priests were originally built outside the lower temple and only later, probably in the Fifth Dynasty, spread up over the eastern wall and into the courtyard inside the temple.
“It is clear from the archaeological evidence that a rough-and-ready cult was being carried out in the valley temple in the later Old Kingdom, focused on a dingy chamber at the back of the tightly packed village of mud brick. At some point, possibly near the end of the Fifth Dynasty, torrents of water washed down through a neighboring wadi and destroyed the western part of the temple. A new temple was built above the ruins of the old, probably at the beginning of the Sixth Dynasty…Menkaure’s cult was maintained in this temple until the end of the Old Kingdom.
“Inside a corridor at the back of the valley temple, Reisner discovered a great masterpiece of Egyptian art. The unfinished ‘pair statue,’ or dyad, carved from basalt, depicts Menkaure with a queen, presumably his principal wife. Unfortunately, the sculptor never inscribed their names and titles on its base. It shows the royal pair, standing three-quarters life size, equal scale, demonstrating their equal importance. The two statues are carved against a high back slab…Both king and queen stride forward, left leg first.
“A number of other important statue groups were found in the valley temple. Key among these is a series of five greywacke triads…each of which shows Menkaure with two deities. Four of these depict Menkaure in the white crown of Upper Egypt, standing and striding forward, flanked on one side by Hathor…and on the other by the tutelary god or goddess of a specific Egyptian nome. Each of these groups is carved in extremely high relief, almost in the round, against a very high back slab” (pp144-45).
Below, the dyad of Menkaure and unknown queen, courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston/Giza Archives Project (MFA 11.1738)
Temple Interrupted—Uncovered & Rediscovered
From Ancient Egypt by Lorna Oakes and Lucia Gahlin
“The remains of an unfinished complex mortuary temple can be seen against the eastern face of [Menkaure’s] pyramid. It consists of a vestibule leading from the causeway, a large open court, a pillared portico leading to the sanctuary and various ancillary rooms, presumably for cultic equipment. Building was started in limestone, although the intention appears to have been to encase it in granite. Menkaure seems to have died before it was completed because the temple has been hurriedly finished off in mudbrick.
“The unfinished nature of the complex made its excavation be George Reisner in 1899 especially interesting, because it provided information about how the work had been done. When Reisner stripped away the mudbrick he could see that the limestone walls were being prepared to take the granite facing when the construction was interrupted. On the core blocks he found leveling lines, measurements and even the names of workers marked in red paint.
“Not much remains of the limestone causeway. Like the valley temple, this is often said to have been completed by Menkaure’s son, Shepseskaf, but there is little evidence for this. The valley temple itself, even in Reisner’s time, lay beneath the sand. He found it by projecting the axis of the causeway from the entrance of the mortuary temple, and was fortunate enough to make some wonderful discoveries. First he found the pair-statue of Menkaure and his queen, Khamererenebty. He went on to find four more masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art, the famous triads showing Menkaure with the goddess Hathor and a local deity, which are now in the Cairo Museum” (p. 71).
On the Menkaure Triads
From The Treasures of Ancient Egypt, edited by Alessandro Bongioanni and Maria Sole Croce
“The three statuary groups of Menkaure fully reflect the classical ideal of court sculpture in which the pharaoh’s human nature is transformed into a divine dimension.
“Within a rigid stylistic and compositional schema, the figure of the pharaoh with the white tiara of Upper Egypt is clearly dominant over the other two figures, both in size and because of his central and more forward position looking at the observer. He is wearing a shendit, a short pleated skirt, and grasps two cylindrical objects the function of which is unknown.
“To the right is the goddess Hathor wearing a three part wig crowned by her attribute—cow’s horns and a sun disk—and holding the symbol of eternity, the shen. The figures to the left of the king are the personifications of the nomes of Upper Egypt where the goddess was particularly revered, each of which is crowned by its respective emblem. The standard witrh the image of Bat above the Isiac knot represents the province of Diospolis Parva immediately to the south of Abydos. The crouching jackal is the emblem of the nome of Cinopolis while the small male figure with the was scepter beside the king personifies the nome of Thebes. A short inscription at the feet of the figures describes the statues: Hathor is “the Lady of the house of the sycamore in all its seats,” the soverign is “the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Menkaure loved eternally,” and both receive offerings of “all good things” from the nome represented.
“The faces of the figures are identical so that only the attributes of each identify them. Beauty was an immutable value that reflected the perfection of the cosmos, and the gods, of whom the pharaoh was one, were the most complete expression of that beauty” (pp. 52-3).
Regarding the Alabaster Colossus
From Mountains of the Pharaohs by Zahi Hawass
“Reisner found an alabaster colossus of the king, now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, that he believed might have once stood at the back of this hall [in Menkaure’s mortuary temple]. The statue was originally almost 2.35 meters (7.7 feet) high. The king wears the royal nemes headdress, a kilt of pleated linen, and the false beard as a symbol of royalty. He holds a folded cloth in his right hand. The statue has a painted chin strap for the false beard, and a thin mustache was painted above his upper lip. The head is noticeably small in proportion to the rest of the body. And American Egyptologist named Peter Lacovara has suggested that the royal sculptors recarved the head to change the original design of the headdress because of a flaw in the stone.
“If it stood at the back of the central hall [in the mortuary temple], the alabaster colossus of Menkaure would have faced down the axis of the temple causeway. Behind the statue, between the upper temple and the face of the pyramid, an inner offering chapel probably contained an emplacement for a false door, symbolic of the king’s exit and entrance to the netherworld of the pyramid. The colossus would have thus represented the king emerging from the netherworld, facing down the causeway toward his pyramid town and the continuing passage of life in the Nile Valley” (pp. 147-48).
Regarding this sculpture, Yvonne Buskens quotes the museum (MFA Boston): “This statue sat in the deep niche at the back of Menkaure’s Pyramid Temple located at the base of the eastern face of his pyramid until, for reasons unknown, it was deliberately destroyed. In January 1907, George Reisner found fragments from the shoulder and torso in a pit in that room and the large fragment comprising the hands, legs, and throne base in an adjacent corridor. Two months later, while excavating what proved to be a robber’s trench nearby, Reisner found the head in nearly perfect condition. The different installations of Menkaure at the MFA reflect the changing aesthetics of the Museum audience. When the fragments first arrived in the Museum, only the head and leg were exhibited. Two years later, additional torso pieces were added, and an abstract restoration of the missing torso elements was attempted. In 1925, at Reisner’s request, the well-known watercolorist and artist for the expedition, Joseph Lindon Smith, sculpted the torso and buttocks in a more naturalistic manner. The restoration that visitors see today was accomplished in 1935 by Smith, assisted by Museum School student Charles Muskavitch.”
Hetepheres—A Queen’s Tomb Without a Queen
Reisner’s Methodology and Hetepheres’ Tomb—“As good as found”?
From Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin Vol. XXIII No. 137, by George Reisner
“We remained together with Mr. and Mrs. Rowe, at Harvard Camp, Pyramids, Cairo, all summer, and resumed operations on November 1, 1924, in the cemetery of Cheops, which lies east of the First Pyramid of Giza [Khufu]. Here were visible ruins of the pyramid temple of Cheops [Khufu], the pyramids of the three queens of Cheops, and the rows of mastaba tombs in which were buried the sons and daughters of that king. A strip was marked out about 100 x 120 meters in area, which crossed the field from east to west from the pyramids of the queens to the eastern edge of the plateau overlooking the valley and the village called Kafr-es-Seman. At that time we had no knowledge of what the area might contain except that the visible mastabas were probably of the time of Cheops (ca 3000 BC). But the moment the area was marked for excavations the methods employed by the expedition insured that whatever might be in the site was as good as found. We began in the “Queen’s Street,” at the southern edge of the second queen’s pyramid…By January 21, 1925, when I left Cairo for Boston, we had cleared five streets, and by the middle of February the whole was finished to the floors used in the Old Kingdom. The next step was the removal of these floors and the examination of underlying debris.
“In the course of the second clearing of the area the “new tomb” was discovered—that which contained the names of King Sneferuw [Snefru], the predecessor of Cheops…The masonry filled a stairway leading down to a low tunnel cut in the rock and also filled with masonry. The tunnel led to the side of a great vertical shaft, likewise filled with masonry. The surface above the orifice of the shaft was found packed with blocks of stone, so as to resemble the rock surface around it in order to conceal the actual location of the shaft itself. The masonry was removed from the vertical shaft to a depth of fifty feet, when a closed niche in the western wall was exposed and found to contain, not the burial, but a sacrificial deposit of the bones of a bull, a mat, and some beer jars. At a depth of ninety feet the doorway of the burial chamber, blocked with masonry, was encountered, and the burial seen to consist of an alabaster sarcophagus, vessels of alabaster and bronze, and a mass of decayed furniture of gilded wood. On the coffin was a gilded mat bearing the names of Sneferuw. This is the only intact tomb of an important person ever discovered of this period.
“Owing to the importance of the tomb and the great difficulties involved in recording the contents…it was decided to seal up the tomb to await my return to Egypt.”
A Great Discovery, Sans a Queen
From Egypt: How a Lost Civilization was Rediscovered by Joyce Tyldesley
“As Henri Chevrier toiled at Karnak, a team led by George Reisner…was involved in a survey of the Giza Plateau. Reisner, dubbed ‘the American Petrie’, was a systematic and methodical archaeologist, whose exemplary work did a great deal to advance the science of excavation…Already at Giza, in his 1908-10 season, he had recovered an astonishing series of statues of King Menkaure from the ruins of his valley and mortuary temples….
“Fifteen years later the American team was to make another spectacular discovery. On 2 February 1925, when Reisner himself was back home in the USA, the team was working to the east of the Great Pyramid. As the photographer set up his tripod, one leg sank deep into the desert sand. It had pierced the plaster covering to a blocked shaft. Reisner’s British assistant, Alan Rowe, started to excavate. After weeks of hard work—the shaft proved to be 89 feet long, and was completely filled with limestone blocks—the team discovered a simple, undisturbed chamber.
“Here, behind a blocked doorway, lay the neatly stored grave goods of Queen Hetepheres, wife to King Snefru, and mother to King Khufu. The archaeologists could see the queen’s alabaster sarcophagus and a sealed niche in the wall that they hoped held her canopic chest. But the tomb was cramped, deep and uncomfortably hot, and many of the objects were in an extremely fragile condition. It was to take almost two years to empty the tomb with the help of block and tackle. Among the goods recovered were thousands of fragments of pottery, a collection of wooden furniture, precious silver jewelry and personal cosmetic items, including perfume pots and a set of gold razors and knives.
“Finally, on 3 March 1927, with the obligatory audience of dignitaries present, Reisner prepared to open the sarcophagus. Anticlimax is probably too mild a word to describe what happened next. Egyptologist Dow Dunham takes up the tale:
“’At a nod from Reisner, the jacks that had been placed for the purpose began to turn. Slowly a crack appeared between the lid and the box. Little by little it widened until we could see into the upper part of the box; nothing was visible. As the lid rose higher we could see further into the interior and finally to the bottom of the box’
“Deflated, the party climbed back to the surface, where they consoled themselves with refreshments provided by Mrs. Reisner” (pp. 221-22).
The Tattered Treasures of a Missing Queen
From Barbara Mertz’ Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs
“Seeing a photograph of the original condition of the tomb chamber, one wonders why the excavators did not simply remove the debris with a shovel…A bed canopy, in pieces, had been laid atop the sarcophagus for lack of floor space. Next to it was a chest filled with objects, and a carrying chair on top of a low bed. There were also two large armchairs, boxes, baskets, jars and so on.
“The furniture had been made of wood covered with thin sheets of gold or inlaid with ebony. The wood decayed with the years, crumbling quite literally into dust and allowing the inlay and the gold leaf to collapse to the floor. A number of stone jars, heavy things made of alabaster, had been placed on wooden shelves; when the shelves collapsed, the jars fell into the piles of broken inlay, making confusion complete.
“The work of clearing Hetepheres’ tomb chamber took months. The position of every tiny fragment had to be recorded, since the way in which it had fallen might provide a clue to the original design. At last the slow, agonizing task was completed and the chamber was empty of everything except the sarcophagus. Two years after Reisner got back from the United States, distinguished visitors and high government officials were lowered down the shaft in basket chairs and crammed themselves into the little room. The great moment had arrived. The heavy sarcophagus lid was prized up. In a hush of anticipation Reisner stooped to peer inside. Then he straightened and faced the distinguished audience.
“’Gentlemen,’ he said wryly, ‘I regret Queen Hetepheres is not receiving’” (pp. 69-70).
Hetepheres’ Grave Goods
From The Treasures of Ancient Egypt by Alessandro Bongioanni and Maria Sole Croce
“Beds in ancient Egypt did not have a bedhead, but a panel of wood mounted on the end by the feet. Two copper-lined wooden tenons fit into copper-lined cavities in the frame and held it fast…The lion’s feet point toward the head of the bed; they are bound with thin leather thongs to the side bars which are finished with elements in the shape of a lotus plant. The entire structure is laminated with gold leaf except for the panel at the foot of the bed and the sloping surface” (p. 88-9)
The Canopy Holder
“When the canopy was discovered, the wooden planks of the container had practically all turned to dust but the inlaid decoration had remained intact and its constituent elements were still distributed in their original positions. Patient reconstruction work of the facades has meant we are now able to appreciate the complete object” (p. 89).
The Lotus Chair
“The furniture in Hetepheres’ tomb included two exquisitely made armchairs of similar style…Somewhat better preserved is this gold-leaf seat in which the unpainted wooden panels have been added in recent times. The armrests have a discreet decoration of bound papyrus rods which help to lighten the simple geometry of the structure” (p. 90).
The Butterfly Bracelets
“The only items of jewelry belonging to Queen Hetepheres to have escaped the notice of tomb robbers were these lovely silver bracelets made from a single plate of curved metal open on the inside. The chromatic effects of the semi-precious stones set in the surface using the champlevé technique successfully reproduce the vivacity of four butterflies with their wings open. There were originally twenty bracelets in two rows of ten inserted in the two central cylinders of [their] casket” (p. 91)
Reisner in Nubia
From “The Arts of Ancient Nubia and the Sudan” in Africa in Antiquity, essays from the Brooklyn Museum, Yvonne Buskens, contributor.
“The excavations conducted by G.A Reisner sponsored by Harvard University and the Museum of fine arts Boston were an exception which proves the persistence of Reisner and his colleagues and their devotion to their work. After a first season with the Archeological Survey of Nubia (1907-1908) Reisner shifted his activities farther North. His first aim had been to follow up J.H. Breasted’s report on the presence of a town of Akhenaten at Sesebi. However, as a result of a recommendation by a local official, Reisner decided to dig at Kerma instead. There he found an important occupation site with associated extensive and astonishingly culture in Upper Nubia, the Kerma culture, which he dated to the time of the Egyptian Middle kingdom and later.
“Undeterred by First World War, Reisner moved to Gebel Barkal (1915-1916) where he excavated the great temples of Barkal and the two groups of pyramids. At the same time, he continued his excavation of the royal cemetery at Nuri, which contained the burials of Taharqo and of all but three of his royal successors. Down to Nastasen, thus covering the period between 690 BC and 300 BC. Reisner then extended his work to El Kurru, where he excavated the royal tombs of Kashta, Piye, Shabaqo, Shebitqo, Tanwettamani and their predecessors back to the ninth century BC. Finally, he continued the excavation of the North, South, and West cemeteries of Meroe. With this work he completed the excavation of all the royal cemeteries of Kush which present a continuum from the ninth century BC to the fourth century BC. Furthermore between 1928 and 1932 Reisner excavated a series of Egyptian forts south of the Second cataract: Shafalk, Uronarti, Mirgissa, Semna and Kumma.
“Reisner worked out a chronology of the Sudan for about 14 centuries and established a cultural sequence decided on archaeological evidence into Napatan an Meroitic periods. He did not publish final reports except for Kerma. However thanks to his collaborators particularly Dows Dunham and to the trustees of the MFA most of his excavations in the Sudan have been posted posthumously (Dunham 1952, 1955, 1957. 1963 1970 Chapman-Dunham 1952, Dunham-Janssen 1960)”
Joseph Lindon Smith
Lyn Green, contrib.
Joseph Lindon Smith, an American artist, was an active member of George A. Reisner’s Boston/Harvard expedition for many decades. His paintings of Egypt are in various collections, including the Phoebe Hearst collection.
Magic Set and Wand of Khufu
From the American Discovery of Ancient Egypt by Nancy Thomas
Richie O’Neill, contrib.
“This magic set consists of four conical cups, one of quartz crystal and three of black basalt, two tall necked “Dummy” vessels (vessels not hollowed out), one of limestone and one of black basalt, and a flint wand inscribed for Khufu. The Wand may have been a particular keepsake because of it’s association with the great king. Similar wands were found within the Menkaure complex, one uninscribed, also from the valley temple, and a fragment of one inscribed for “The Mother of the King, Khamerernebty”.
“Such sets were used in the “Opening of the Mouth” funeral ceremony that was performed to reanimate the body of the deceased. These rituals could be conducted for sculptural and relief representations of the departed as well as the actual corpse, and so the sets are found in tombs, mortuary chapels and temples. This particular set was undoubtedly used on the statues in the Menkaure Temple.
“The group was found under the remains of a large oval copper tray, which George A. Reisner theorized had been used by plunderers to dump material. The vessels were found in the correct order known from intact groups, suggesting that they may have been held in place on a wooden tray, which subsequently decayed.”
Online books & Articles
Vicky Metafora shared a number of links to online books by George Reisner.
Vicky also shared this link to Recollections of and Egyptologist by Dows Dunham
Heidi Kontkanen recommended “Excavating the Old Kingdom” by Peter Der Manuelian, in Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids.
Géraldine Ashby shared the link to the Giza Digital Library from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, along with a couple of selections about, rather than by, George Reisner.
“George Andrew Reisner on Archaeological Photography” by Peter Der Manuelian, Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Vol. XXIX, 1992
“A Month in the Life of George A. Reisner” by Peter Der Manuelian, KMT Vol. 07, No. 2, Summer, 1996
Yvonne Buskens found this link to George Reisner’s article “The Masterpiece of a Demigod” on the discovery of Djoser’s funerary temple in The Independent.
Ia Georgia suggested we check out “Note on Overbuilding and Intrusive Burials at Gizah” from The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.
Richie O’Neill came across a good article on The Mysteries of Queen Hetepheres’ Burial in Egypt by Jimmy Dunn, from the Tour Egypt website.
Yvonne Buskens share this link to a slideshow of artifacts from Queen Hetepheres’ burial equipment from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Richie O’Neill shared this link to the Ancient Egypt collection at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology featuring the largest collection of Predynastic artifacts outside of Egypt, largely a result of supporting George Reisner’s work.
Vicky Metafora shared this link to George Reisner’s bio page in the Giza Archives, which has some very nice photography as well.
Géraldine Ashby shared this link to an article and video of Peter Der Manuelian discussing the Giza Archives Project from the Harvard Gazette.
Special Supplement: Finding Online Textual Resources
By Yvonne Buskens
Literature research is a fundamental step in any research process, and most searches these days begin online. A number of academic organizations have put together specialized collections and search engines for scholars seeking full-text online resources. These links will help get you started in your own research.
The University of Chicago Library has a link to “How to Find Electronic Full-Text Sources.”
Follow this link to Abzu, a tool from the Etana website for searching online resources regarding the ancient Near East and ancient Mediterranean world.
Another good source for online texts is the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook on Egypt page from Fordham University.
Sisyphos collection of Egyptological Internet Resources is another good place to search.
The Alphabetical List of Open Access Journals in Ancient Studies from AWOL—The Ancient World Online is helpful.
Natalia Klimczak provided this link to the Ancient World Digital Library from All Books.
Copyright by Keith Payne, 2013. All rights reserved.