Archive for the ‘Locations’ Category

In the Khufu’s Western Cemetery series, it is time to return to George Reisner.  After losing support from the Hearst family in 1904, Reisner gained the support of Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and went on to spend many productive years on the Giza Plateau.  The quantity of work Reisner produced during the Harvard/MFA years will require several installations in this series, but before resuming with biographies for our introductions, we will first examine the basic elements of mastabas.  This is by no means exhaustive, but it is a good place to start.

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The next concession we will explore in the Western Cemetery is the German mission, the Sieglin Expedition. Founded by Georg Steindorff, much of the western strip was subsequently excavated by Hermann Junker. Along with Steindorff and Junker, we will also visit Ludwig Borchardt, whose notable presence began with the division of the concessions in 1902, when he stood in for Steindorff at the division of the concessions between the Americans, the Italians, and the Germans. The article will be followed by a representative look at mastabas from the Steindorff, Junker West, and Junker East sub-cemeteries.

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In the last edition of the Western Cemeteries we visited the field itself with George Reisner and the Hearst Expedition.  We will be visiting Reisner quite a bit, later in this series, but this time we are going to look in particular at the Italian Turin Mission, led by Ernesto Schiaparelli.  Schiaparelli is perhaps more associated with his discovery of the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, but he did receive the concession to explore the Western Cemetery for Italy, and he did do some work there.  Let’s take a look.

Just a couple of notes beforehand.  First, this edition is dedicated to my friend and G.P., Dr. Akshaya Patel, who had blessed me with good health, counsel, and conversation.  I am a man of my word – Dr. Patel, this is for you.  Second, as I am bringing the site back into current service, I am slowly approving and responding to literally hundreds of pending posts.  Please be patient!  

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We have examined how George Reisner developed his concept of the nucleus cemeteries, and how these grew into what we now call the Western Field, or, Western Necropolis. We have examined how the field was divided into three tracts so that concessions could be assigned to international missions. We will now begin looking at an assortment of the tombs themselves, beginning with George Reisner and the Hearst Expedition.

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We have been introduced to the Western Cemetery of Khufu, and how it began as nucleus cemeteries that expanded as additional mastabas and burials were added, creating the not-always-so-neat mosaic of a history in stone of the Fourth Dynasty, beginning with the reign of Pharaoh Khufu. Now the Egyptian authorities were going to allow three international missions to begin excavation in the Western Cemetery. But how would the concessions be divided? How was the decision made, as regards who digs where? In Part 3, we begin to demystify at least how this process began. As we go, we will see that concessions get passed on, swapped, and at least temporarily, set aside. The concessions at Giza today may look somewhat differently, but at least in the beginning of the Twentieth Century, this is how it started.
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jphspx-00With the support of architectural and topographic evidence, Jean-Pierre Houdin is convinced that the Giza Sphinx represents King Khufu.

For the last fifteen years, Jean-Pierre Houdin has considered the Giza Plateau to be an area particularly rich and fruitful for research.  The architect has notably focused on the star of the site: the Great Pyramid, to which he has devoted an evolving theory, developed in Khufu Revealed, then in Khufu Reborn; these are two installments in the ongoing story of the reconstruction of the building site of this marvel of stone, which was largely echoed by Pyramidales.

Broadening his focus to the whole Giza Plateau, but without moving away from his “preferred” building site, Jean-Pierre Houdin came naturally to integrate in his research another major piece of the great jigsaw puzzle that the Giza site represents: the Sphinx. Jean-Pierre’s research into the Sphinx is guided by these two recurrent questions: What is the meaning of this colossal sculpture? To which King should it be tied?

Loyal to the techniques and teachings from his own profession as a builder, Jean-Pierre Houdin doesn’t take the risk of following the “traditional operating mode” of Egyptologists and other patented archaeologists.

Every man to his own trade…Jean-Pierre intends first of all, while taking into consideration the developments from those Egyptologists, to allow the topography of the Plateau to speak, examining how it evolved according to weather conditions and progress of building projects on the site such as the opening of quarries, the building of the ramps for the transport of materials, the construction of pyramids and in particular, the appearance of a certain…Sphinx!

At the end of the study, a conclusion will prevail: that the Sphinx is inseparable from Khufu. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Jean-Pierre Houdin agreed to describe his development, exclusively for Pyramidales (French version) and Em Hotep (English version), through an interview conducted through an exchange of e-mails. With regards to the technical nature of the topic, this method was imperative. This explains the sometimes “didactic” nature of the answers which was required for clarity.

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jphspx2 - 00Last week we published Part One of Marc Chartier’s interview with Jean-Pierre Houdin regarding the Great Sphinx.  In that installment Jean-Pierre made the case for Khufu being the face which adorns the mighty guardian of the Memphis Necropolis.  This week, in Part Two, we will be looking at the physical evidence for setting a date for the Sphinx’s construction.  Enjoy!

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jphspx3 - 00We have seen over the past weeks the case for the Great Sphinx having been constructed during the Fourth Dynasty in honor of Pharaoh Khufu, based on the evidence of the Plateau itself.  In Part Three Jean-Pierre Houdin examines the evidence of other features of the Giza Plateau where the ancient builders seem to have labored to channel the water runoff that threatened their monuments.

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fsi-000What was the order of operations when it came to installing the facing stones on the large pyramids of the Fourth Dynasty?  Were they just ornamental or did they serve a larger purpose in the engineering of the pyramids themselves?  Was there a difference between how the rare instances of granite facing stones were installed and the Tura limestone facing blocks still visible on parts of the pyramids today?  Join us as we probe the thoughts of a man who spends more time systematically and scientifically studying the large pyramids than any other person alive, Jean-Pierre Houdin.

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000 - tabGiza 3D is the virtual world of the Giza Plateau reconstructed from the thousands of archaeological photographs, first hand sketches of artifacts and monuments in situ, dig diaries, aerial and satellite imagery, and all the resources the Giza Archives have to offer, “a real-time virtual reconstruction of the Giza Plateau, based on actual archeological data gathered by Harvard and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) expeditions to Egypt in the first part of the 20th century” (Forbes: “How Harvard Students Explore Ancient Egypt From Cambridge With New 3D Technology”).

Here at Em Hotep we want to provide you with a set of travel guides to the virtual tours conducted by Peter Der Manuelian, where to go and what to see when you enter the free-style navigation mode that lets you wander around, and how to make the best of the many resources Giza 3D offers.  Join us for the first Travel Guide as we explore a series of three connected Fourth and Fifth Dynasty mastabas, the G 2100 Family Tomb Complex.

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Tausret: Forgotten Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt is a collaboration between Richard Wilkinson, who is Regent’ Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Director of the Egyptian Expedition at the University of Arizona, and some of the most recognizable names in current Egyptology.

Written for a general audience, but with all the details a specialist looks for in a good book, Tausret is one of those books that will teach you about Egyptology while entertaining you with an adventure.  But it’s not the sort of swashbuckling adventure you might get with, say Belzoni.  It’s more of a detective story, spread out over a lot of detectives.

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The Djedi Project is not just the new mission to explore the pyramid shafts—it truly is the next generation in robotic archaeology.  Beginning with Waynman Dixon’s iron rods, researchers have been probing the Great Pyramid’s mysterious claustrophobic passageways for 140 years.  But now, using technology designed for uses as divergent as space exploration and terrestrial search and rescue, we are finally able to explore the chamber behind Gantenbrink’s Door.

Picking up where we left off with Pyramid Rover, this Em Hotep exclusive covers how the Djedi Team won the “Robot Olympics in the Desert”, the members who make up the team, the specifics of the robot’s design, and the results of Djedi’s maiden voyage up QCS and into the chamber behind the first blocking stone.  Through interviews and exchanges with the Djedi Project manager, Shaun Whitehead, as well as other team members, this article promises to be the resource for the published Djedi material to date.

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One year ago today Em Hotep was present for the premier of Khufu Reborn at la Géode in Paris, France. Phase Two of Jean-Pierre Houdin’s work with the Great Pyramid of Khufu was revolutionary, but was preceded by another revolution in Egypt just two days prior.  Now, on the one year anniversary of Khufu Reborn, we visit with Jean-Pierre to ask a few questions about his work, the impact of the January Revolution, and where we go from here.

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Last week as news was breaking about the new tomb—KV64—Em Hotep received word from Stephen Cross, an Egyptologist and Geologist specializing in the Valley of the Kings, that he had photographed the tomb while conducting his own, unrelated research in the Valley.  Naturally, Steve held onto this wonderful shot until after the University of Basel had made their announcement.  Now that the whole world knows about KV64 and its lovely occupant, Steve has very kindly agreed to allow us to publish the photo, along with answer some questions about what is going on in the Valley of the Kings.

Inside:  Current projects in the Valley of the Kings, Steve’s meeting with the new head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and a picture of KV64 you will not see anywhere else!

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In case you haven’t heard, there is a new addition to the list of tombs in the Valley of the Kings!  As I am currently focused on the next pyramid shaft article, and my multi-tasking cache already runneth over, I am pointing you to the sources I go to for information about such things—my brother and sister bloggers.

As always, these are not typical bloggers (have I mentioned how much I dislike that marginalizing term, blogger?), these are folks who are thoughtful, critical, analytical, and who often have direct channels to the primary sources.  Don’t forget to check out the comments sections, as this is where the story tends to develop.  And you have my word that these kind people will welcome your comments and questions as well.

 

 

(Kate gets two entries because VoK is her bailiwick)