ARCHAEOLOGY IN EGYPT
Expeditions & Information Sources
Updated July 20, 2013
In 391 AD the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius ordered that all pagan temples be closed throughout his empire, which included Egypt.
At that time, Egypt, particularly Alexandria, had become a strong center of Christian theology and there were probably relatively few
people who continued to worshipped the ancient Egyptian gods. Because the Egyptian hieroglyphic script was largely used by priests
in rituals and for religious and commemorative inscriptions, the closing of the temples was the beginning of the end of its use and
understanding. It wasn't until 1822, when Champollion used the Rosetta Stone to successfully unlock this ancient sacred text, that
Egyptian hieroglyphic script could once again be translated, at first with only rudimentary understanding. With this step, the door was
opened to begin to understand the ancient Egyptian culture.
In the 1,400 years between the closing of the temples and the work of Champollion, there was great interest in the vast Egyptian
monuments, the strange half animal half human gods, mummified bodies, and, perhaps most of all, the writing which was alive with
symbols and active figures of animals and humans. Far reaching human imagination filled the vacuum of understanding about what all
these fascinating legacies of a lost culture meant. The result was a sea of myth, magic and occult beliefs, some of which survive
today with the "validity" which the passage of time alone gives to misinformation. Because of this, it is important that you know
something about the qualifications of authors and website managers when you are looking for reliable information. Helpful qualification
factors could be education, institutional affiliation, field archaeology experience, and recognition by professional societies. This is why
I have provided information about each website and the author(s) of each book noted below.
Before I get to some suggestions about how make the ancient Egyptians real people to you, lets check in on the archaeological
activities in Egypt today. I'll also show you how you can be a part of the current ancient Egyptian archaeological scene by supporting
current activities and, possibly, by actually participating in an archaeological expedition.
Unless otherwise specified all content and photos by Richard L Cook. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved
Petrie Museum overall resource
"A free online resource for ... learning and teaching, introducing all periods and themes of Egypt from the prehistoric to Islamic times, with 3D reconstructions of
selected sites represented in the Petrie Museum." This site provides simply stated information about most aspects of ancient Egyptian culture, history and
geography illustared with objects in the museum. That makes it an excellent place to go if you are looking for specific information in a specific period.
The Giza Archives Project
This is the preeminent site for information about the Giza Plateau. The Boston Museum has put an enormous amount of information here from their archives of
archaeological expeditions they managed and have added much of the publications and papers written on the extensive ancient Egyptian structures at Giza.
The Global Egyptian Museum
At a rough estimate, over 2 million objects from ancient Egypt are kept in about 850 public collections, dispersed over 69 countries around the world. This
website aims to collect them into a global virtual museum, which can be visited at any time, from any place. The Global Egyptian Museum is a long-term project,
carried out under the aegis of the International Committee for Egyptology (CIPEG).
Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA)
The AERA website, above, contains a wealth of fascinating information about the pyramid
workers village at Giza, currenty being excavated. This organization, under the leadership of
Dr. Mark Lehner , has become one of the most diverse archaeological organizations in
Egypt. As Dr. Lehner said in his letter to contributors, "AERA is making a difference in
Egyptian archaeology and in broader cultural and educational exchange that is so important
in this part of the world at this time". Starting in 2006 AERA in conjunction with ARCE (See
website below) has been conducting field schools at Giza for inspectors of Egypt's Supreme
Council of Antiquities (SCA). These courses include hands-on field work as well as
laboratory and classroom training. These inspectors work with archaeological expeditions all
over Egypt to ensure compliance with SCA regulations and to provide liaison with the SCA.
AERA also manages the Salvage Archaeology Field School in Luxor where contemporary
residential and business developments have been built into and over important
archaeological areas. In Mark Lehner words Salvage Archaeology is "the archaeological
equivalent of an emergency room". Funding for AERA comes from memberships, private
foundations, a grant from the US government and many individual donors. Additional
funding is now being sought to build a permanent ERA Archaeological Center and Training
School at Giza. You can be a significant participant in Egyptian archaeology by becoming
an AERA member and adding your support to this outstanding organization. Go to Support
AERA and click on "Become an AERA Member Today".
Egyptian Government Ancient Egypt Info
This is the "Tour Egypt" site, a government sponsored site with information
about Egypt both ancient and current. I recommend it as a very reliable
source of a great deal of well organized information that not only will help you
plan your visit but also give you background information that will make your
trip more meaningful.
Egyptology.com list of links
Links listed here are managed by various institutions, or are personal websites of archaeologists and scholars. Others are personal websites maintained by
enthusiastic individuals with a variety of backgrounds in Egyptology and still others maintained by organizations or individuals with interests in "alternative"
and/or controversial points of view. Browsing here could be fun and would undoubtedly unearth some fascinating nuggets of information, but it could be time
consuming, as web browsing of any topic that interests you can be. Website links are not arranged by topic; however brief descriptions of most link websites
Detailed Egyptian History
This website, hosted by Tour Egypt, the Official Site of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, does not have a concise history of ancient Egypt. However, it has links to
historic and cultural information arranged historically by predynastic periods, dynasty, and post dynastic periods, i.e., Roman, Islamic, French occupation and British
occupation. It is an excellent site to use if you are familiar with the basic flow of Egyptian history and would like to know more about specific periods.
This site, hosted and maintained by the staff of the Archaeological Research Institute at Arizona State University, contains a vast number of links to websites
covering all aspects of archaeology. It is very well organized and easy to use If you have a specific topic in mind, this is the site for you.
A FEW HELPFUL BOOKS
The books noted below are ones which I have read and which have been written by authors I believe are among the most
qualified. These books are a sampling of the many excellent books which could be valuable to you and could also give you a good
basis for putting lectures and magazine articles in perspective.
Books have several distinct advantages over websites, most notably that it is easier to determine the experience, qualifications,
reputation and affiliation of the author. For example, many egyptologists consider some of the information in books by Sir E. A.
Wallis Budge to be unreliable. Another advantage of books is that with a book you are more likely to stay focused. When using
the Internet you are constantaly tempted to explore tantilizing links to other websites related to the topic you meant to study.
Book prices quoted below are generally from Amazon, are approximate and subject to change. When investing in a book it is
generally a good idea to shop around a bit on the Internet to get a good price. Second hand books can be perfectly ok for you,
providing they are the latest edition. I have no control over the writing of these books and cannot guarantee the accuracy or
completeness of their content. Furthermore I have no any financial relationship whatsoever with the publishers or authors.
CONCISE OVERVIEW BOOKS
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ancient Egypt
by Donald P Ryan
310 Pages, paperback, $18.95: ISBN - 0-02-864277-5
This is an excellent "starter" book. It covers the subject in considerable depth in a style that is well organized, highly readable and made particularly enjoyable by Dr.,
Ryan's sense of humor. His Egyptian archaeological work includes projects in the Faiyum, Nile Delta and Valley of the Kings. He is a lecturer in the Division of Humanities
of Pacific Lutheran University and author of many books and articles on Egypt and other anthropological and archaeological subjects as well as fiction. His website,
linked above, has details of his work, great pictures and lots of interesting information about ancient Egypt.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt
by Bill Manley
144 pages, Paperback, $11.53, ISBN - 0-14-051331-0
This Atlas provides a clear, concise overview of ancient Egyptian history, culture, beliefs and works, both artistic and architectural. One of strengths of this book is the
coverage Dr Manley gives to the impact Egypt's geography and natural resources had on its cultural, economic and political development. Bill Manley has been involved
in archaeological work in Egypt and Palestine. In 2006 he was appointed Senior Curator of Egyptian Scripts at the National Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was a
lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. In addition to this book he is the author of two other best-sellers, The Seventy Great Mysteries of Ancient Egypt and
How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs, the latter of which, co-authored with Mark Collier, is noted below under "Hieroglyphs".
Red Land, Black Land, Daily Life In Ancient Egypt
by Barbara Mertz
Revised and Updated 2nd Edition, 410 pages, Hardcover, $26.95: ISBN - 978-0-06-125274-7
This 2008 2nd Edition of a book originally published in 1966 continues to be widely acknowledged as one of very best complete coverages of all you ever wanted to know
about the life, loves, beliefs and accomplishments of the ancient Egyptians. While Ms Mertz is a well recognized egyptologist, she is, perhaps,best known as a prolific,
leading author of fiction under the names of Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels. Her many books staring Amelia Peabody, wife of a fictional archaeologist working in
Egypt in the early 1900's, as well as Vicky Bliss and Jacqueline Kirby often make the New York Times Top 10 Best Seller List and have a world wide following of
enthusiastic fans always impatiently waiting for her next book. It is truly an elevating experience to be in the audience when she speaks and to feel the intense devotion
and love her fans have for her books and, more specifically, for the characters she has created. Her writing style, including her sense of humor, makes Red Land, Black
Land highly informative, and both an easy and enjoyable book read. This book was very favourably reviewed in the premier Egyptian archaeological magazine KMT
Journal Summer 2008 issue, now on magazine racks in your nearby book store or news stand.
HISTORY OF ARCHAEOLOGY IN EGYPT
The Search for Ancient Egypt
by Jean Vercoutter
220 pages, paperback, $5.49, ISBN - 0-8109-2817-5
This popular, 5x7 inch book provides a lively, illustrated, concise account of the end and subsequent rediscovery of the ancient Egyptian culture of Pharaohs, exotic
gods and fascinating hieroglyphs. The decree of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I in 391AD closing all pagan temples in the Roman Empire effectively ended the
ancient Egyptian civilization. The the re-discovery of this ancient culture began with two events: first, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799, during the
Napoleonic occupation of Egypt (subsequently translated in 1822 by Jean-Francois Champollion), and, second, two immensely popular works by scientists that
accompanied Napoleon to Egypt, "Travels Through Upper and Lower Egypt" and the massive "Descriptions de l'Egypt" (seven volumes of text and eleven of maps
and illustrations), both published between 1802 and 1830. Jean Vercoutter, a French archaeologist who worked extensively in the Sudan and Egypt, was an expert
in ancient Egyptian language. He taught history, archaeology and Egyptian language at the University of Lille-3 while continuing his archaeological work. Dr
Vercoutter was appointed director of the French Archaeological Mission in the Sudan and the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo. He died in 2000 at
the age of 89. His brief summary of the material in this book can be found at UNESCO Courier article by Vercoutter.
Mirage, Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt
by Nina Burleigh
286 pages, hjardback, $17.13, ISBN 0-06-056767-4 (paperback available December 9, 2008, $10.17)
This award winning book is an often astonishing, sometimes depressing but 100 percent fascinating account of the work done by over 150 French scientists of
every discipline during the invasion and occupation of Egypt by Napoleon Bonaparte from 1798 to 1801. From a military point of view, this expedition was a prime,
legendary example of failed planning, failed leadership and abandonment rather than support from the home government (perhaps somewhat reminiscent of
events in our time). It was only through great dedication and determination these scientific accomplishments were made in the midst of some of the worst,
sometimes horrible, deadly conditions .From the cultural point of view, the accomplishments of these French scientists and artists, the best and brightest of their
time, represent a landmark in historical, cultural, architectural and scientific research and, also, stimulated a surging interest in all things ancient Egyptian that
permeated international fashion, decorative design and intellectual curiosity about the ancient Egyptian culture. Nina Burleigh is a noted author and journalist with
wide ranging national and international reporting experience, including from Iraq in the 1990s. She is currently a staff writer at People Magazine and an adjunct
professor of journalism at Columbia University.
TOURIST INFORMATION ABOUT HIEROGLYPHS AND MONUMENTS
HIEROGLYPHS FOR TRAVELERS
by Thomas F Mudloff and Ronald E Fellows
113 pages, paperback, $14.95, ISBN - 0-939968-02-9
This 6.5X5.5 inch, spiral bound book is just the thing to (a) give you an introduction to hieroglyphs and (b) add a great deal of enjoyment to your tour of monuments, etc.
in Egypt. It gives just enough information and instruction to make looking at inscriptions more meaningful even though your ability to translate will be very limited. Of
course, you could also impress your fellow tourists and maybe strike fear into your Egyptian tour guide, some of whom do not read hieroglyphs. The book first provides
some introductory background material and a brief introduction to reading hieroglyphs. This is followed by background material and translations of material at specific
sites. The backgrounds of the authors are noted at the links above. If this book stimulates you to want to become more proficient in reading hieroglyphs, the next step is
a significant one. The best way to learn how to read hieroglyphs is by attendance in a class. Classes are usually at a university or other educational facility, and some-
times sponsored by a local archaeological society or chapter of a national organization. The next best option is a correspondence course. The University of Chicago
periodically offers a very good correspondence course through its Oriental Institute courses and events program. This course is currently being offered. Check their
web site for enrolment particulars. To keep informed about other courses and to support their work consider becoming an Oriental Institute Member. Some other sites
offering correspondence courses in Egyptian hieroglyphs are homestudynet, & glyphdoctors . The latter of these two opportunities is taught by Nichole B Hansen .
Classes and correspondence courses will cost between $200 and $400 and require significant commitment, dedication and study time. Yet another alternative is to buy a
good instruction book and launch into a self study effort. See book below for a sugestion
HOW TO READ EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHS, A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO TEACH YOURSELF
By Mark Collier & Bill Manley
179 pages, paperback, $from $3.31, ISBN 978-0965693035
This book has a logical, well organized course of study that, if diligently followed, could lead to a basic understanding of Egyptian hierogliphic writing. However, as
Alexander the Great, paraphrasing his teacher Aristotle, may have said when visiting Egypt, his newly acquired country, "I guess there's no royal road to learning to read
this stuff either". Dr. Mark Collier is a lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Dr. Bill Manley teaches Egyptology at
the University of Glasgow. More information about them at the links above. The University of Liverpool may have a "distance learning" course in Egyptian hieroglyphs.
EGYPTIAN ARABIC, A ROUGH GUIDE, PHRASEBOOK
Compiled by Lexus
260 pages, paperback, $4.49, ISBN - 1-85828-319-1
Speaking of learning a language, if you are planning to visit Egypt you may get more out of your study time by learning a little Arabic rather than working to learn more
that the most basic understanding of hieroglyphs, depending, of course, on why you want to study hieroglyphs. This 4x5.5 inch pocket Arabic phrasebook is the most
useful I have found. Not only does it give the Egyptian pronunciation and colloquial use of Arabic, it also give the Arabic spelling of each phrase or word. The book also
provides a basic description of the Arabic language.
THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO ANCIENT EGYPT
Revised 2nd Edition,1997
By William J Murnane (Link to William J Murnane Curriculum Vitae edited by Peter J
526 pagesPaperback, $5.15, ISBN 0140469524
This book is a great travelling aid to have when you go to Egypt. It contains detailed
information on just about any site you will visit on a tour and provides all you need to
know to make site visits on your own meaningful and enjoyable. You will be able to
find interesting details that almost any guide will not know about or not take the time
to point out. You will also be able to identify sites that are not on your tour which you
may want to see on your own, without any need for a guide ( see pictures at left and
right). Prof. Murnane was an eminent historian and Egyptologist whose contributions
and achievements were widely recognized. Dr. Murnane was Professor of History
and Adjunct Professor of The Institute of Egyptian Art & Archaeology at The
University of Memphis, Tennessee, and Director of the Great Hypostyle Hall Project
at Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt. He died in 2000. More details of his extensive
accomplishments and publications are at the link above.
Who Built The Pyramids? An Article by Mark Lehner in Harvard Magazine,
NOVA Interview of Mark Lehner
The two articles at the above links, one written for Harvard Magazine in 2003 and
the other a transcript of a NOVA interview, broadcast in 1997, provide an excellent
introduction to the subject of the pyramids of Egypt. Mark Lehner is a visiting
Assistant Professor of Egyptian Archaeology at the Oriental Institute, University of
Chicago, and a Research Associate at the Harvard Semitic Museum. For the past
29 years he has worked in several capacities on the Giza Plateau including
directing excavation and research projects through AERA . His experimental work
on pyramid building and erecting obelisks have given important insights into how
the Egyptians may have worked and he is a pioneer in computer reconstruction of
the Sphinx and Giza Plateau (see Giza Plateau Maping Project). For more details of
his accomplishments and career see Mark Lehner Bio Info.
CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL ACTIVITY IN EGYPT
ACTIVE ARCHAEOLOGICAL ORGANIZATIONS WITH CURRENT INFORMATION, SOME OF WHICH YOU MIGHT ENJOY JOINING
POTENTIAL DIGS FOR YOU IN EGYPT
Except for students, as described below, untrained volunteers are not permitted work on archaeological digs in Egypt. In order to participate in an archaeological expedition
in Egypt you must have professional level training and/or experience in archaeology, anthropology or other technical professions needed on an expedition such as
photography, surveying, drafting, etc. Archaeological expedition participants in Egypt must be individually approved by The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities
(SCA), and be a part of a team from a university, museum or other organization which has been approved by the SCA for work in Egypt.
Universities who are involved in managing expeditions in Egypt may bring untrained students, and perhaps other volunteers, for field school and technical archaeological
work, under the supervision of professionals, generally as part of their university course work. The actual excavation and clearing of sites is done only by trained Egyptian
workers. Participation by each untrained person brought to Egypt by a University also must be approved by the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
SOME OF THE UNIVERSITIES WITH EXCAVATION & TRAINING PROGRAMS IN EGYPT
This is not intended to be a complete list of Universities which have excavation programs in Egypt. I have listed a few that I know about as examples of what is out there. If
you are a university student, you may be able to find out about where and how to participate in these or other, similar programs, even if you are not a enrolled in the
universities providing them. If you are not a student, you may want to check out the SEPE program below.
UCLA-Archaeology Field Program
GETTING TO KNOW THE EGYPTIANS
The information on the walls of virtually all tombs, temples and monuments concerns the pharaohs, royal family, people in high positions and wealthy people. They are
pretty much the only ones who could afford such structures or for whom the King would build a tomb as a reward. There is much day-to-day information depicted in the
pictures showing life around these elite people and also a lot about what they enjoyed doing, such as hunting, fishing, partying, awarding rewards and beating up on
their enemies. However, the pictures and lists of accomplishments of the king and the tomb owners is basically propaganda: i,e., what the owners or rulers wanted to
believe about themselves and wanted to be remembered about them "for all eternity". The information from these sources doesn't tell us much about how the vast
majority of Egyptians lived. One factor that limits our information about the "masses" is that virtually all residences, from the most fabulous palaces of the Kings to the
lowest hovels for the poorest of the poor were made of mud brick. As such, very little about anybody's house remains. Furthermore, only a small part remains of the
papyrus records at every level of society, such as temple records, stories, correspondence, administrative/business documents, legal proceedings, etc. However,
some remarkable caches of documents shedding light on everyday life have been discovered These are noted below.
Egypt and the Egyptians, Second Edition 2007
by Douglas J Brewer and Emily Teeter
235 pages, paperback, $29.99, ISBN 0-521-61689-1
DOUGLAS J. BREWER is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana. He is the author of numerous books on Egypt covering topics from
domestication to cultural change and the environment. He has over twenty-five years’ of archaeological fieldwork experience in Egypt, including co-director of the
excavations at Mendes. EMILY TEETER holds a PhD from the University of Chicago and is Research Associate and Associate Curator of the Museum at the Oriental
Institute, University of Chicago. She is the author of a wide range of books and scholarly articles about Egyptian religion and history, and she has participated in
expeditions in Giza, Luxor, and Alexandria.
Many of you will be surprised to learn, from this book, the degree of equality ancient Egyptian women enjoyed compared to men, especially with respect to the areas of
property rights, inheritance, divorce, civil court suits and private business activities. Women were discriminated against when it came to high government positions, but
there are a few exceptions. For example, there were at least four instances when a woman ruled Egypt as queen, or, in one instance, as a Pharaoh, or king. Another
exception involves the position of "God's wife" or "Adoratress", conferred by the king on a queen, his sister or daughter. This was a temple position with considerable
influence and, often, power. In at least one period, the administration of Egypt was left by the kings to their daughters, who had the title of "God's Wife of Amun".
Much of the information we have about the non-elite, non-royal way of life came from excavation and study of three worker villages which have survived in surprisingly
good shape. These villages were for pyramid builders at Kahun, and for the tomb and Temple craftsmen at Deir el Medina and el Amarna. In addition to finding many
partially standing house walls, household, items, religious objects and tools, the biggest sources of what life was like in these villages were the town dumps where
papyrus and ostraca (records and noted written on pieces of broken pottery) had been discarded over a period of as much as hundreds of years. Additional
information is currently being gained about pyramid workers from Mark Lehners ongoing excavation of the village of the pyramid workers at Giza, as noted in his book
below. Dr.s Brewer and Teeter have blended these sources of information with a number of others to put together an excellent, comprehensive, readable book that will
go a long way toward making the ancient Egyptians real people, in many ways like us.
A MINI REFERENCE LIBRARY
Here are three low cost books and awebsite that could serve as a valuable reference library to you no matter how casually or deeply you indulge yourself in enjoying the
study of ancient Egypt. They will be particularly valuable in putting events, key players (kings, influential men & women) in context and perspective as you assemble the
various building blocks of your ancient Egyptian understanding. The value of these information sources is that each covers a lot of core historical material in concise,
well organized summary form that makes them readily accessible when you have a question.
Chronicle of the Pharaohs, The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Egyptian Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt.
By Peter A Clayton
224 pages, paperback, $16.47, ISBN 0500286280
Peter A. Clayton is an egyptologist and archaeologist who has written over a dozen books on Egypt and the ancient world. He is also the Consultant
Editor of Minerva Magazine : The International Review of Ancient Art and Archaeology. Over the years I have referred to this book so often I have
almost worn it out. It provides quick access to concise, lavishly illustrated summaries of key information about each pharaoh. This is probably not the
kind of book to read from cover to cover, but, in addition to using it for reference, it is very interesting to just browse through from time to time.
The Remarkable Women of Egypt
By Barbara Lesko
68 pages, paperback, $5.00, ISBN 0-930548-13-2
Barbara S. Lesko, now retired, was the Administrative Research Assistant in the Department of Egyptology at Brown University and collaborating editor for the Dictionary
of Late Egyptian. She is the author of numerous invited articles and books pertaining to social history and women's studies. In this book she provides brief biographies
of the most famous ancient Egyptian women as well as a brief discussion of the role of ancient Egyptian women in general and a few words about the ancient Egyptian
.The Complete Pyramids: Solving Ancient Problems
By Mark Lehner
256 pages, paperback, $14.32
This book is described in "THE PYRAMIDS" section below.
The Internet has provided a fertile field for a blend of misinformation, half truths and semi occult beliefs about ancient Egyptian culture to be
widely presented, sometimes mixed in with accurate facts. This makes it very important to know something about the sites you choose for
increasing your knowledge of ancient Egypt or researching some particular aspect, and particularly about the qualifications of the writers
or institutions that present them. There are many highly qualified, well respected scholars, archaeologists, egyptologists and institutions,
such as museums and universities and archaeological organizations, that maintain excellent, factual websites about ancient Egypt. We
have provided links below to a sampling of these websites. However, because, we have no control over or input to these sites we cannot
guarantee the accuracy of their content.
The Amarna Research Foundation
This foundation supports excavation and preservation of the city built by the pharaoh
Akhenaten at Tel el-Amarna. This king created a new religion, focused on a single god,
Aten, represented by the sun, as shown in the picture at left. In doing this he closed the
powerful temples for other gods and moved his capital to Amarna. All this angered many
former high priests and officials. When he died, these people returned to power and
defaced Akhenatens images, as can be seen in the picture at left, tore down his temples
and destroyed his new capital at Amarna. Akhenaten and his famous wife, Nefertiti
shared a tomb at Amarna, however their mummies and all grave goods were removed,
probably during the time when Egypt was returning to its old gods with a vengeance. Their
tomb was badly damaged including all wall inscriptions and images. Akhenaten's mummy
has never been found and there is some controversy as to whether Nefertti's mummy is
one found in a tomb in the valley of the Kings at Luxor. This website contains interesting
information about the Amarna Period and updates on the excavations there. You can
support this work by going to membership information
American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE)
The overall objective of ARCE, a non-profit organization, is to promote and strengthen American-Egyptian cultural ties. To these ends, ARCE, as stated on its website,
"... promotes scholarly research and the dissemination of its results; encourages cultural and academic ties among its members and their Egyptian counterparts; and
fosters broader knowledge and appreciation of Egypt and its culture among the general public." Examples of how this objective is translated into action are:
- In the area of research, ARCE facilitates research by individual scholars and American institutions in Egypt on Egyptian history and culture from prehistoric times
to the present. A program of fellowships awarded for study in Egypt is a significant part of this effort as is sponsoring educational and training opportunities in the
United States for Egyptian scholars, conservators, and students. Archaeology is an important part of research and more than a dozen archaeological teams
sponsored by leading U.S. and Canadian museums and universities are assisted annually by the ARCE Cairo Center.
- In the area of conservation, ARCE supports projects for the preservation of Egypt's cultural heritage such as preserving and reconstructing historically important
medieval Islamic buildings, training Egyptians in preservation techniques, and archaeological and conservation projects (e.g, those mentioned in the AERA
discussions above as well as others).
- In the area of public outreach to foster broader knowledge about Egypt among the general public, ARCE provides seminars and free public lectures, largely
through its many local chapters. On a national level it sponsors educational excursions and an annual week end conference in which leading egyptologists and
historic conservationists present lectures covering the latest discoveries, research results and preservation projects. The public is welcome to register and
It is the public outreach effort that can provide a great opportunity for many of you to participate, learn and support, particularly if you are near an ARCE local chapter.
ARCE is funded by its membership, including individual and institutional members , US Government grants and corporate sponsors. To find out how you can participate,
go to membership . By joining ARCE you will be supporting very important programs and, also, be opening a door to outstanding learning opportunities.
The Egypt Exploration Society Since it was founded in 1883 this organization has been a major source of funding for excavations in Egypt and Sudan. In the summer
and fall of 2008 alone EES funded over 30 projects, many of them ongoing. It's magazine, "Egyptian Archaeology" is certainly one of the most important sources of
information about current expedition findings and future expeditions as well as meetings, seminars, courses of study and recent publications in the UK and abroad. The
EES annual conference, to be held this year on June 20-21 in London, is always a rich opportunity to hear first hand about ongoing expeditions and to discuss them
with the archaeologists involved. If you want to meet leading archaeologists working in Egypt and the Sudan, this conference is the place to be. You can get information
about this conference and also learn when and where this society has other lectures and events by going to “What’s New” on their website. Membership in this
organization is a must for anyone interested in staying informed of current events in this fascinating part of our world history.
Oriental Institute/ Chicago House, Luxor
Since it's founding in 1924 the primary mission of the Chicago House in Luxor has been to produce photographs and
precise line drawings of the inscriptions and relief scenes on major temples and tombs at Luxor for publication. This
effort, called the Epigraphic Survey, is crucial because environmental conditions are damaging and in many cases
destroying these inscriptions and scenes. In recent years, the Chicago House has expanded its work to include
applying newly developed conservation techniques to reduce this environmental damage. Reconstruction and repair of
these spectacular ancient buildings are part of this conservation work. Epigraphic Survey funding largely comes from
its parent organization, the Oriental institute of the University of Chicago. The conservation work is being supported
primarily by a grant from the US government. However, individual contributions from people interested in preserving
the legacy of ancient Egypt, like you and me, are also needed. You can help by becoming a member of the Oriental
Institute and making a donation designated for the Chicago House.
In the picture at left I am dressed as a poorly disguised American tourist at the Chicago House annual Halloween party.
I am standing next to Dr Ray Johnson, Director of the Chicago House. I think it is important to have pictures of yourself
standing next to important people.
In the picture at right, Dr. Zahi Hawass, second from left in front row, is visiting
with the Cairo University-Brown University Expedition in Giza. Dr. Ed
Brovarski, Expedition Director, is second from right, front row. Dick Cook is in
back row on the right end. Dr. Zahi is the former Egyptian Minister of State for
Antiquities He is also the star and host of the TV series, "Chasing Mummies",
a very entertaining as well as educational production.
Mark Lehner showing Ed Brovarski, Director of the Cairo University-
Brown University Expedition, some of the features of the pyramid
workers' village he is excavating at Giza.
A SUGGESTED PLAN FOR MAKING THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND THEIR WORLD REAL FOR YOU
For many, the excitement of learning about ancient Egypt comes from insight into such things as;
- the way the ancient Egyptians thought,
- their religious and philosophical beliefs about how the forces of nature (to them the cosmos) interacted with humans and
- their literature, accomplishment in medicine, math, engineering, artistic expression and construction management, and.
- the daily lives of middle class and ordinary people.
In other words, gaining enough insight to make the ancient Egyptians seem like real people rather than flat images walking
sideways or giving gifts to gods with human bodies and animal, bird, reptile or insect heads.
Regularly reading archaeological magazines is an excellent way to keep up with new, exciting discoveries. The magazines I note below are readily available at newsstands
and in book stores.
Magazines concentrating on ancient Egypt
The title of this magazine is an abbreviation of the ancient Egyptian name for their nation-state, "Kemet", literally "Black Land", reflecting the rich soil on both sides of the
Nile and in the Delta region. KMT is a quarterly magazine rich with in-depth, well illustrated articles, brief updates on organizations currently excavating in Egypt, and
information about current publications, meetings, lectures and museum exhibits around the world. It is an excellent magazine for those professionaly involved in some form
of egyptology. However, its articles can be a great source of information for those generally interested in learning about the fascinating aspects of ancient Egyptian culture,
art and architecture and the pioneers of Egyptology.
Ancient Egypt Magazine
This magazine has an informal style that may make it especially appealing to the general public. It is researched and written by experts in the field of Egyptology and its
Consulting Editor Professor Rosalie David,OBE is a world renown Egyptologist, author and researcher. That makes it also interesting and a valuable source of information
for those already immersed in the study of ancient Egypt, either professionally or just love of the subject. Added benefits are reviews of exhibitions, descriptions of
museums, book reviews and educational courses.
General Archaeological Magazines with Ancient Egyptian Articles and News Items
Current World Archaeology
This magazine is an excellent source for information about world wide archaeological activity, including volunteer digs. Its editorial policy is described on their website as "...
aimed at the 'Middle Market', that is, we are not 'acedemic/professiolnal' nor on the other hand are we 'popular'. We are between". This magazine is always stimulating to
read and filled with wide ranging coverage of current, world-wide activities.
Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR)
Published by the Biblical Archaeology Society this magazine is an excellent source of information about archaeological activities in Israel and adjacent countries. Editor
Hershel Shanks makes this publication especially interesting by addressing controversial issues. The title of this magazine reflects more the geographical area covered
than a religious focus; however, Mr. Shanks often includes articles and interviews that address both Old and New Testament controversies as well as the impact of
archaeological discoveries on biblical interpretation.
For 60 years the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) has published "Archaeology", a widely read magazine for both professional archaeologists and scholars as well
as the general public. This magazine, published six times a year, is readily available on news stands and in book stores. AIA is the oldest and largest archaeological society
in North America with nearly 250,000 members and subscribers and 100 local societies in the US, Canada and overseas. Their local societies provide free lectures open to
the public along with other archaeological activities. Since AIA is in the forefront of concern for archaeological ethics and standards, this magazine often contains editorial
discussions and investigative reporting articles on critical and controversial archaeological issues. You may be interested in the latest news from an ongoing dig at
Hierakonpolis in Egypt on Archaeology's Interactive Digs Website
This magazine is subtitled "The International Review of Ancient Art & Archaeology". It is oriented to the antiquities market but always contains excellent articles about
ancient cultures, news about excavations and archaeological commentary.
TOPICS ON THIS PAGE
CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL ACTIVITY IN EGYPT
- ACTIVE ARCHAEOLOGICAL ORGANIZATIONS WITH CURRENT INFORMATION AND WHICH YOU MIGHT ENJOY JOINING
- INTERNET DIG LIST
- ARCHAEOLOGICAL MAGAZINES
POTENTIAL DIGS FOR YOU IN EGYPT
- SOME OF THE UNIVERSITIES WITH EXCAVATION & TRAINING PROGRAMS IN EGYPT
A SUGGESTED PLAN FOR MAKING THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND THEIR TIME REAL FOR YOU
- BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEWS
- A FEW HELPFUL BOOKS
- A MINI REFERENCE LIBRARY
- CONCISE OVERVIEW BOOKS
- GETTING TO KNOW THE EGYPTIANS
TWO IMPORTANT, LESS WELL KNOWN PERIODS IN EGYPTIAN HISTORY
TOURIST INFORMATION ABOUT HIEROGLYPHS AND MONUMENTS
HISTORY OF ARCHAEOLOGY IN EGYPT
The Prehistory of Egypt, From the First Egyptians to the First Pharaohs
By Beatrix Midant-Reynes
328 pages. paperback, $27.98, ISBN 0-631-21787-8
Because so much popular attention is paid to the pharaohs of Egypt and the time period when they lived ("Dynastic
Period"), it almost seems that ancient Egypt sprang up suddenly out of nowhere. This book reflects the extensive
archaeological work over almost 100 years to identify the development of ancient Egyptian culture in the Nile Valley from
Nubia to the Mediterranean, during the period from the earliest settlement of humans, around 700,000 BC, to the time of
the first Pharaohs of a united Egypt, about 3000 BC. This book concentrates on the 15,000 year period from 18,000 to
3,000 BC. It was during this period the earliest forms of agriculture can be seen and also the beginning of several different
cultures. These cultures developed such activities as textile and ceramic production, which became increasingly
sophisticated, as well as religious beliefs including their cosmology, burial rites and decorated pottery, which later became
the hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization as we know it today. In other words, in this book you will see the gradual
development of what we know as the ancient Egyptian culture over thousands of years. The book is not always an easy
read, partly because of the heavy use of archaeological and egyptological terms, much of which you can skip over. Overall,
it is a fascinating story. There is an excellent website, maintained in an admirably up-to-date state by Francessco Raffaele,
concerning this period of Egyptian history at Predynastic & Early Dynastic Egypt The picture at left is of King Narmer, the
king who is generally credited with first uniting Egypt, putting the finishing touches on the unity negotiations.
Photo by Francesco Reffaele
From Slave to Pharaoh, The Black Experience of Ancient Egypt
By Donald B Redford
218 pages, $22.95, ISBN 0-8018-8544-2
Around 1,000 BC Egypt became bankrupt. About 945 BC the Egyptian Pharaoh, who had been very weak, died and Libyan mercenaries who had been employed by the
Egyptian pharaohs, decided to take over the country. The Libyans were good fighters but poor administrators. For about 200 years their rule was characterized by a
fractured country with multiple Pharaohs, who squabbled among themselves, and unrest among the Egyptians which lead to several revolts. During these troubled times
in Egypt the Kushites, black Africans from the Nubian and Sudanese civilizations to the south saw an opportunity to expand their territory. Between 747 and 715 BC the
Kushites took over Egypt from the Libyans and ruled for about 90 years. This was the only extended period of Egyptian rule by Black Pharaohs. Their rule was generally
characterized by stability, building programs, one Pharaoh at a time and some powerful military actions against the Assyrians who were pressing on Egypt's northern
borders. The Assyrians defeated the Kushites in 671 BC, thus ending Kushite rule of Egypt. As might be expected, this period of Libyan then Kushite rule makes for
some complicated history. Dr. Redford has organized his description of this period, plus the back story of the times leading up to it, in a way that flows and becomes a
logical chain of events. The only confusing part is trying to remember all the players and their interaction. But then, you don't have to worry about that. The overarching
flow of events and some of the main drivers are all that is needed to keep this otherwise chaotic period in perspective and make you glad you didn't have to live through
it or take an exam after reading about it.
|Photo by Jon Bodsworth
Stylised head of
Photo by Jon Bodsworth
The Stone of Light Series
Volume I : Nefer the Silent
Volume II : The Wise Woman
Volume III : Paneb the Ardent
Volume IV: The Place of Truth
By Christian Jacq
Paperback, $19.72 - 21.99 per volume
There's nothing like a good historical novel written by an author who is an
expert in the period about which he is writing. Add Christian Jacq's love for
ancient Egypt and you've got an author you may not be able to live without.
Deir el Medina was the village of the skilled craftsmen who worked on the
Pharaohs' tombs at the Valley of the Kings. Because of the extensive written
material found there, Dr. Jacq was able to draw heavily on actual people,
procedures, customs and day to day incidents reported in the ancient
records. This makes this series of books not only great stories about an
exciting time but also virtual textbooks of factual information. In general, there
is considerable historical information in all fictional books by Christian Jacq
because of his well recognized, overall knowledge of ancient Egyptian
history. His writing skills also make his non-fictional books easy and
interesting to read.
If you want more detail about the craftsmen village of Deir el Medina or the
pyramid and temple workers at Kahun, you will find these two books very useful
Pharaoh's Workers, The Villagers of Deir el Medina
By Leonard Lesko , editor
197 pages, paperback, $24.95, ISBN 0-8014-8143-0
The village of Deir el Medina was built for the craftsmen who prepared precious,
artistic grave goods for kings and queens and created their decorated tombs
carved into cliffs of the protected Valley of the Kings and Valley of Queens. This
was in the time after pyramids were no longer being constructed for kings. When
the villagers of Deir el-Medina finally abandoned their village, after over 400
years of almost continuous occupation, they left behind many indications of what
life in their community was like in the form of artifacts and large quantities of
written material discarded over the life of the community. This book is a
compilation of the work of a number of different egyptoloigists, each of which
writes about a different aspect of life in this fascinating village, based largely on
this incredible collection of now priceless discarded material. If you have also
read any of the Christian Jacq books in "The Stone of Light Series", above, you
will see in this book how much historical information from the villagers
themselves he had to work with. Dr. Lesko has assembled a thorough
description and discussion of a rare and exciting archaeological discovery.
The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt, A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh's Workforce
by Rosalie David
264 pages, paperback, $15.99 ISBN - 0-415-15292-5
This book is about workers in the village at Kahun who built the 30th major pyramid about 660 years after construction the Great Pyramid of Khufu (the 7th major
pyramid). Kahun is about 80km south of Giza. The village seems to have been abandoned rapidly, somewhat like Pompeii, because many domestic and work utensils
were left behind as well as a substantial amount of written material, mainly on papyrus. The king put the entrance through a tunnel carved into the bed rock 50 ft
below the pyramid base. The hidden entrance to this tunnel was located on the south side of the pyramid near the south east corner. This was a radical departure
from the customary location of the entrance in the middle of the north face of the pyramid, where the robbers had come to expect it. Furthermore, the entrance to the
horizontal tunnel was through a vertical shaft, located approximately 70 feet away from the pyramid bases. In spite of all that, the tomb was robbed in antiquity. At the
beginning of the book, Dr. David provides very useful background information about four of the worker villages found so far and also a clear, interesting description
of how pyramids evolved after the last Giza pyramids were built. This background provides an excellent basis for putting the story of Kahun in context relative to the
broader stream of ancient Egyptian history.
The tomb workers' village at Deir el-Medina as viewed from the highest point on
the path they used to go over a pass and down into the Valley of the Kings.
These ruined structures, located in the pass between the workers' village and
the Valley of the Kings, may have been huts used by the tomb workers when
they were too tired from a hard day's work to walk the rest of the way home,
all down hill. Hmmm. Is this an early example of "working late at the office"?
How the Great Pyramids Were Built, 2006 edition
By Craig B Smith with forward by Zahi Hawass
288 pages, paperback, $11.96, ISBN 0-06-089158-0
If you are interested in a much more detailed discussion of how the great
pyramid of Khufu at Giza was probably built, particularly if you have doubts that
the ancient Egyptians could have done it without extraordinary assistance of a
much more sophisticated culture, this is the book for you. Mr Smith uses his
extensive engineering and world-wide major construction management
experience to provide a detailed project plan for this massive, ancient
construction project. His plan uses only the resources available to the ancient
Egyptians, includes the logistics of "on time delivery" of construction material,
critical path scheduling of all work elements and the support organization
needed to keep the construction activity functioning.
The Complete Pyramids: Solving Ancient Problems
By Mark Lehner (see links above for bio Information)
256 pages, paperback, $14.32
This book lives up to its title. It is hard to imagine a question about the pyramids of Egypt that is not
dealt with somewhere in the book. So far, over 100 royal Egyptian pyramids have been discovered and
new discoveries continue to be made. Most have had their fine casing stone "robbed our" for reuse
elsewhere. Some are in very bad shape or perhaps just a foundation. Over a period of about 900 years
these pyramids were constructed for royal burials, or, in the case of some associated small satellite
pyramids, for ritual purposes. The Pharaohs for which they were constructed have been identified,
except in very few instances. In addition, starting about 800 years after the last Egyptian pyramid was
made, the Nubian kings (in what is known today as the Sudan) constructed 180 pyramids over a period
of about 1,000 years. Mark Lehner uses his 29 years of research and excavation on the Giza Plateau
plus computer reconstruction expertise to provide a comprehensive, well organized, clearly written
account of not just the pyramids themselves, but also the historical, political and religious context within
which they were constructed. His discussion as to how the pyramids were built, including his pyramid
building demonstration, is detailed, technically sound and convincing. The many pictures, diagrams and
drawings in this book are a great help to appreciating the complexity and brilliance of the work of the
pyramid engineers, craftsmen and construction management.
The pyramid of Djedefre, Khufu's son and successor, is located on a rock hillock 5 miles north of the
three pyramids at Giza. Over the years, all the outer blocks of the pyramid have been taken for use
elsewhere leaving only the solid rock core, shown at the pyramid base level, above, and from the top, at
left. Here and at Giza when the rock was levelled to permit building a pyramid, a solid core such as this
one was left in the center. This core was carved to fit the blocks that would be used to build the bulk of
the pyramid above the core. The picture at left shows the ramp carved down into the bed rock to the
burial chamber. Djedefre was pharaoh only 8 years and his pyramid may never have been finished.
The picture at right shows the pyramids at Giza as seen from Djedefre's
pyramid base. His half brother, Khafre, and nephew, Menkaure, the next two
pharaohs, built their pyramids back at Giza. We don't know for sure why
Djedefre was pharaoh just 8 years. Perhaps Khafre used his influence to get
his half brother promoted to a god a little early.
|TWO IMPORTANT, LESS WELL KNOWN PERIODS IN EGYPTIAN HISTORY
If I had not had Dr. Murnane's guide, above , I would have missed many interesting
things such as the completely reconstructed Temple on the right, somewhat off the
beaten path in the Faiyum region, and the lissom, well preserved statue of Nefertari,
beloved principle queen of Ramses the Great, tucked back in a corner of the Luxor
Temple court. This statue is especially interesting because in ancient times a Greek
tourist scratched a picture of a hunter and the name "Paris" over her head on
Ramses leg to her right, alluding to the story of Paris coming upon the beautiful
Goddess Diana in the woods, bathing in the nude.
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|PLANNING A TRIP TO EGYPT? CHECK MY "EGYPT-TRAVEL" PAGE FOR SOME SECRET,INSIDER TIPS.YOU'LL BE GLAD
INTERNET DIG LIST & INFORMATION
An excellent, reliable listing of most of the archaeological expeditions in Egypt as well as other Egyptological information can be found at Egyptology
Resources . This is a website maintained by Dr Nigel Strudwick, PhD
RELIABLE INFORMATION ABOUT ANCIENT EGYPT AND TOURISM TODAY
|DR ZAHI HAWASS, THE MAN IN CHARGE OF ALL EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES
|Free Archaeology Resources
If you like archaeology, you probably enjoy learning about human history. That doesn't mean that you want to spend all your time searching
the Internet for reputable archaeological information. This site has been compiled so you can easily access the most authoritative and
extensive archaeological resources on the net. The resources are arranged by period and region.