2011 Field Season Archive

Ancient Lives Revealed: Finding Old Kingdom Fats

Posted on Feb 9, 2011

Posted by Valerie Steele

Sampling plaster from the Hypostyle Hall

I arrived in Giza in the early hours of Monday morning on my first visit to Egypt. I never imagined I would visit the pyramids and yet here I am, not just visiting but doing a job I really enjoy right next to a pyramid (actually two)!  What am I doing here?

My work involves looking at the organic residues that have been preserved in ancient pottery. These residues are the degraded remains of plant or animal material – everything from food and drink to cosmetics, medicines, waterproofing materials, glues, dyes and, elsewhere, even Neolithic chewing gum made from birch bark.

Pottery is a great place to look for these materials because unglazed pottery is full of holes like a sponge so anything liquid inside the pot tends to soak into these pores. Once inside organic material is semi-protected from the effects of water, sunlight, bacteria, air – in fact most things that might degrade them.

Of course over long periods of time some materials do degrade or disappear. For example sugars and starches are very soluble in water and easily get washed away during burial while proteins are easily broken down by bacteria and rarely survive. … READ MORE »


Standing Wall Island

Posted on Feb 7, 2011

Posted by Simon Davis

Two weeks down, five to go and we haven’t even started digging yet!

Well actually three weeks down now as we spent the last week under curfew and not able to work.

We are at the end of our second week of work at Standing Wall Island (SWI) and what appeared at first to be a discreet jumble of stone and mudbrick walls is fast transforming itself into an archaeological site (amazing what a bit of site grid can do!). Our aim, to uncover the previous recording work carried out by AERA back in 2004 to try and work out how SWI fits into the rest of the plateau complex that sprawls out to the north.

The site literally is an island, a raised bank of sand that emerges out of two muddy lagoons flanking it to the north and south. These lagoons until a few years ago contained standing water and the ‘Island’ is only recently available for excavation again. It’s not only physically separated from the rest of the site but the standing walls lie on a slightly different alignment to the rest of the settlement complex. A missing piece of the jigsaw then? Well maybe and tempting to suggest, but it’s certainly worthy of a second look.… READ MORE »


The Giza Lab Season is Underway

Posted on Feb 5, 2011

The Giza Lab, nestled amidst the pyramids, may not look that impressive from the outside as it blends into to the yellowish sand colored landscape of the Western Cemetery.

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Internet Back in Egypt

Posted on Feb 3, 2011

Posted by Richard Redding

Sorry for the interruption in our blog of the 2011 season at Giza. I know this only the second entry! Unless you live in a cave you must be aware of recent events in Egypt. We lost the internet on Wednesday the 26th and cell phones the next day. The cell phones came back on Monday.

We have had an exciting few days at Giza. Demonstrations began last week on Tuesday. Our dig house is located within walking distance of the pyramids and was, until Friday night far from the demonstrations in downtown Cairo. Late Friday night demonstrators came up Pyramids Avenue and destroyed the police post on the corner. The police had long since fled. Within an hour the army started moving into Cairo and a large number of tanks and armored personnel carriers moved along Pyramids Avenue. They used the square near us as a staging area and we saw tanks unloaded from their carriers and columns of tanks and armored personnel carriers forming up to head into the city. The demonstrators greeted the army with cheers, as the army is well respected and seen as a balance to the police. Reports of short battles between the police and the army were carried on the news.… READ MORE »


Welcome to the 2011 Giza season

Posted on Jan 27, 2011

Posted by Mohsen Kamel and Ana Tavares, joint-Field Directors

We have just started excavations again at Giza, after a hiatus last year. During this busy hiatus we prepared material for publications, held an Analysis and Publication Field-School in Giza and a second Salvage Archaeology Field-School in Luxor.

This season we are excavating in both concession areas at Giza – the Workers Settlement (a.k.a the Lost City, a.k.a. Heit el-Ghurab) and the town of Queen Khentkawes. Both sites date from the mid 4th Dynasty (circa 2529 -2471 B.C.) although the town of Queen Khentkawes and the village inside the Valley Temple of Menkaure seem to have functioned until the end of the Old Kingdom (late 6th Dynasty, circa 2154 B.C. Click here for more information on how we date the site). The main research questions for this season are the ancient landscape (the southern and eastern approaches to the site), climate change and site formation (especially the process of dismantling, robbing and erosion). The four excavation areas all contribute evidence to these questions. After 10 somewhat boring days of removing the protective sand covering we put in place at the end of our last season we are finally ready to excavate!

Lost City

In the Heit el-Ghurab site we have opened two excavation areas: SFW House 1 and Standing Wall Island (“The Island” for short).… READ MORE »


  • Photos from the Field

  • More photos from our 2015 Giza Field School
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