Blog Archive

Fighting For Archeology – The Silo Building Complex

Posted on Mar 25, 2014

By Hanan Mahmoud (MSA archaeologist)

Joining the AERA team at the beginning of March 2014 was one of my dreams. Finally, I could work in the Silo Building Complex (SBC)!

I remember in 2011, after the revolution, my colleague Rabee Eissa and I worked in the Menkaure Valley Temple with the AERA team. By the end of that season and directly to the east of KKT-E basin the workmen exposed rounded silos enclosed with marl brick walls. There were also bins, a kitchen, rooms, corridors and an enclosure wall – all part of a building. Dr Mohsen Kamel, AERA field director, asked me and Rabee to draw this building. Then, we start fighting about who will be the one to get the chance to excavate this amazing Old Kingdom silo building.

A site tour of KKT-E+ area during season 2012. Dr Mark Lehner discusses with Rabee Eissa.
Photo by Sayed Salah.


Echoes of the Past

Posted on Mar 7, 2014

Using Sealing Fragments to Hear Ancient Voices

by John Nolan

Digging the SBCAs strange as it may sound, much of our understanding of our excavations at Giza, rests on how we interpret small, broken chunks of clay that come out of the site. These fragments come from sealings, which were daubs of refined clay that were attached to doors, jars, boxes, and papyrus documents. They were often pressed down over a knot on a rope or cord when wet. Sometimes while it was still wet, the person who owned the item would roll a cylinder seal, inscribed with texts or pictures across the front of the sealing leaving behind an impression of the seal’s inscription. … READ MORE »

Digging in a Sand Bowl

Posted on Mar 2, 2014

by Dan Jones

Depending on the location of the site the amount of physical and visual contact an archaeologist has with everyday life going on around where they work greatly varies. This season the AERA team is continuing its excavation of the Silo Building Complex (SBC) located just a stone’s throw away from the Great Sphinx and Valley Temple of Khafre.


The Giza Plateau with its awe inspiring monuments has countless visitors on a daily basis however, it is only a few intrepid wanderers on foot that are aware of the AERA excavation when it is stumbled upon accidentally. This mainly has to do with the fact that neither the excavators nor the archaeology can be seen by visitors. … READ MORE »

It’s Coming Back To Me Now

Posted on Feb 19, 2014

By Hoda Ossman Khalifa (Inspector, Ministry of State for Antiquities)

Until these days, I did not feel the true meaning of the above words. I worked with the team during 2012, when we discovered the “Silo Building,” and it was a marvelous season. We worked hard as a team, and departed with a hope to work together again in the same site again. However, we did not meet during the past year.

Some of the 2012 team : (left to right)Hussein Rikaby, Hoda Ossman, Mohamed Fathy Mansour, Ahemd Abdel Hamid, Ahmed Orabi and Mohamed Abdel Basset (sitting). Photo by Saied Salah. … READ MORE »

Animal Bones and the Silo Building Complex

Posted on Feb 10, 2014

By Richard Redding

I am looking forward to arriving in Egypt on April 10th. Our research design this season has unified our excavation and material culture studies strategies. I will be looking at the animal bone from the Silo Building Complex (SBC) testing the idea that the area was occupied by priests associated with offerings for one or more of the Pharaohs whose tombs lie at Giza. How can animal bones tell us about the “job” of the residents of an area? How can I test this idea?


The SBC complex in 2012. View to the west, photo by Mark Lehner.


A perfect start – Giza season 2014

Posted on Feb 2, 2014

By Ana Tavares – Joint Field Director

We are back at Giza excavating in the Complex of Queen Khentkawes. As much as I enjoy the hustle and bustle of a large team and the energy of the field-school, this small and quieter season seems perfect.  With only a small team of archaeologists and workers, I am able to get back to digging and surveying. A real treat especially given the first target of the season: the ‘kitchen and sand trench.’  This is one of three target areas we are investigating in the Silo Building Complex (SBC) to the east of the Khentkawes basin.… READ MORE »

Why Do I Go To The Giza Fish Market?Why Do I Go To The Giza Fish Market?

Posted on Mar 20, 2013

Posted by Richard Redding

Why I go to the fish market at Giza is a story that is best told with photos.

I work on identifying the animal bones that come out of our excavations at Giza. I use them to study animal use in the Old kingdom and to development models of the Old Kingdom animal economy.

My workspace in our laboratory looks like this:

Notice all the recent, comparative skeletons. The table with the blue lights has piles of sorted archaeological bone fragements.

Fish remains form an important part of the fauna we get in the excavations. The fish looks like this:

In order to identify these fish bones I need a comparative collection composed of recent (modern) specimens that I have identified to species using external characteristics.

Below is an archaeological bone that I identified as the maxilla of a Nile Perch (Lates niloticus) using a recent skeleton of a Nile perch. Trust me, they are the same.

The top bone is a maxilla from the recent skeleton and the bottom one is an archeological maxilla fragment. The recent maxilla is from a fish about 67cm long, so the archaeological specimen is from a much larger individual. The Nile perch can reach up to 2m and weigh 400 hundred pounds.… READ MORE »

Connecting Our Data Through Digitization

Posted on Apr 2, 2012

Posted by Rebekah Miracle

Even though I’ve been back home from Giza for over a week now, my work with the AERA geographic information system (GIS) isn’t over– it has just shifted into a new phase.

During the excavation season, my priority was the daily digitization of new features as they came out of the ground. Over 900 new archaeological features were digitized this season, which kept me very busy! I worked closely with the excavators and our archivist to make sure that all of this season’s data was properly recorded and to provide team members with a quick, accurate, and integrated visualization of the KKT & HeG sites.

The digitizing process

Now that the season is over, all of the new data has to be carefully checked, linked to the database of feature descriptions, and finally integrated into our existing dataset. After the data is finalized and integrated, it can be used for analysis and to make maps throughout the year – for the excavators’ reports, for publications and presentations, and to combine with the specialists’ datasets to help them place their finds in context and aid in their understanding of the site. The GIS is where all of our data ultimately comes together – archival, survey, excavation, special projects, and specialist data – and it forms an important part of the digital archive of our work on the site.… READ MORE »


Time for tea?? Final week in the Giza Lab

Posted on Mar 27, 2012

Posted by Dr. Claire Malleson

After a busy season of work on materials from four areas of the AERA excavations, the Giza lab is now winding down. The ceramicists have finished their recording and drawing, the objects are all registered, sketched, photographed and stored, the animal bones have been identified, and the sealings are all stored for future seasons. The work this season was conducted mainly by the SCA Inspectors, who have trained with the AERA/ARCE field schools and graduated through the advanced levels to become specialists, working alongside the international specialists. They have all been looking at the materials from the Gallery, Menkaure Valley temple and Khentkawes Valley temple – all very interesting, and there have been several special discoveries.

Pyramids shrouded by the morning mist behind the Giza Lab

I arrived late on this season, and I am working my way through the archaeo-botanical samples from two areas of the site; Khentkawes valley temple and Gallery III.3. These days in the lab at the end of the season are usually peaceful and quiet; the lab is almost empty now. The occasional specialist pops up to check something, re-photograph an object or potsherd. Most people are now very hard at work on their final reports, writing up their findings based in our project center.… READ MORE »

Madient Het el-Gourab: What I was doing 10 years ago

Posted on Feb 21, 2012

Posted by Ashraf Abd el-Aziz, SCA archaeologist

I was talking to Ahmed Ezz, one of the team members, about when I excavated Gallery III-4 at Madient Het el-Gourab when I realized that excavation was 10 years ago and no one excavated in the gallery complex until this year, 10 years later. One of my dreams was to excavate in these galleries again and I’m very pleased to be back to the galleries this season.

I was alone with four workmen only when I excavated Gallery III-4. We excavated the entire gallery except its northern part in squares which we had excavated in 2001. My Gallery III.4 excavation was almost 150 square meters. The AERA team said to me, “You cannot excavate the entire gallery in a season” and even Dr. Mark Lehner was unsure telling me “Frankly, it is a lot of work for one person”. But I felt I could do it. In 4 months I excavated GIII-4 with only the four workmen and people keep asking me, “How did you excavate the entire gallery alone in one season?”

Madient Het el-Gourab: GIII-4; 10 years ago

This season I have come back to the galleries and I’m excavating in the gallery next to GIII-4.… READ MORE »

  • Photos from the Field

  • More photos from our 2015 Giza Field School
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