Archive for the ‘Periods’ Category

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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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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We introduced the subject of Khufu’s Western Cemetery in the last article of this series. Before we can begin an organized delve into the mastabas themselves, we first need to understand a couple of key concepts. We need to know about the nucleus cemeteries and how they expanded into the necropolis we seek to study (the subject of this article), and how the Western Cemetery was carved up into concessions (the subject of the next article). So, how did the Western Cemetery evolve?

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Khufu's Western Cemetery Part 1 - Introduction

With the Scan Pyramids project doing work in the field, and the Harvard University/Museum of Fine Arts Boston Giza Archive Project being reinvented as Digital Giza, it seems the Old Kingdom is in the air. Many of you have been following my Western Cemetery series on Facebook in the Old Kingdom Egyptology Group, but there is a need for a more permanent home for the series, which is a great reason to jump start Em Hotep!

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NKC - 000You have seen the ancient depictions of the pharaoh alone in his chariot with his bow drawn, the horses running in lockstep, as the battle raged around him.  And if you are like me, you have wondered if these are historical depictions or artistic license.  Few people know the specifics of New Kingdom chariots like Kathy Hansen, who appeared as one of the experts in the NOVA special “Building Pharaoh’s Chariot”.  Last Spring Kathy took some time to answer these questions and others for Em Hotep.  After some delays (all of them my fault) we are finally able to bring the results to you…

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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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The more we learn about Hierakonpolis, the more likely it seems that during the Naqada II Period this ancient township was the capital of a province that reached well beyond its immediate boundaries. While it may be too early to call it a kingdom—we don’t know if the position of chieftain was hereditary or not—it was certainly headed in that direction.

Had consolidation been emphasized just a little more, and a tighter grip exercised over the northward expansion, Hierakonpolis might have become the capital of a united Egypt 500 years earlier than Narmer (Andelkovic, 2011, p. 29).  As it turned out, expansionism during Naqada II was more about the gradual assimilation of Lower Egypt, and consolidation was focused on three cities rather than just one—Hierakonpolis, Naqada, and Abydos.  But the roots of royalty were firmly established at Naqada II Hierakonpolis.

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The unification of Egypt is credited to Narmer, the traditional first king of a unified Egypt, who extended his pharaonic mace from his capitol at Hierakonpolis to smite the backward villages of Lower Egypt and rein them in to southern ways.

Well, maybe not exactly.

The unification of Egypt was a process, not a historical event that can be neatly situated into a single time and place, much less a single person.  But one thing is for certain, that process began to take recognizable shape at Hierakonpolis and the earliest roots of that development began with the Badarian culture.  As we shall see in this article, the Naqadian people would build on the material culture of the Badarians, mostly through innovation and improvement of existing types, and this process would plant the seeds for pharaonic Egypt first at Hierakonpolis.  But as sometimes happens, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

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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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It would be easy to think that the ancient Egyptians, for all their amazing accomplishments in the arts and sciences, were morbidly obsessed with death.  After all, what do you think of when you imagine ancient Egypt?  The Pyramids:  tombs.  Tutankhamun:  a golden mummy.  Valley of the Kings: a cemetery.

But the truth of the matter is that the Egyptians were obsessed with life, and they fully expected it to continue on the Other Side.  Just as we work, save, and invest for our retirement today, the ancient Egyptians prepared for their eternal retirement amongst the gods.  Most of the art and artifacts connected to this planning, what we would call the funerary tradition and/or architecture, was considered to be the machinery of the afterlife, the tools and rituals required for the care and feeding of a departed spirit.

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