AERA News Archive

AERA’s Field School Celebrates 10 Years in Egypt

On March 21st, AERA celebrated the 10th anniversary of our field school program in Egypt with a party at the AERA-Egypt Center in Giza. Many of our graduates attended the celebration alongside current students, staff members, and officials from the Ministry of Antiquities.

We wish to thank the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, USAID, The American Research Center in Egypt, and The American University in Cairo for their generous support and co-operation over the past ten years. We look forward to celebrating another ten years of training the next generation of Egyptian archaeologists in 2025!


Dr. Mark Lehner speaks at the field school anniversary party (l); current and former AERA staff members, students and instructors celebrate at the anniversary party. (r).… READ MORE »

The Pig and the Chicken in the Middle East

A chicken on a limestone fragment found by Howard Carter on the slope in front of Tutankhamun's tomb.

A chicken on a limestone fragment found by Howard Carter in front of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Sometime around 1000 B.C.E. pig use in the Middle East declined and was subsequently religiously prohibited. Around the same time that pork fell out of favor, chickens were introduced into the area.

AERA Chief Research Officer Dr. Richard Redding’s paper examining the historical reasons for the decline of the pig (and the rise of the chicken) has been featured in the Smithsonian and the New Historian.

The full text of his article, The Pig and the Chicken in the Middle East: Modeling Human Subsistence Behavior in the Archaeological Record Using Historical and Animal Husbandry Data, is available in the Journal of Archaeological Research.

Abstract: The role of the pig in the subsistence system of the Middle East has a long and, in some cases, poorly understood history. It is a common domesticated animal in earlier archaeological sites throughout the Middle East. Sometime in the first millennium, BC pig use declined, and subsequently it became prohibited in large areas of the Middle East. The pig is an excellent source of protein, but because of low mobility and high water needs, it is difficult to move long distances.… READ MORE »

Dr. Claire Malleson to teach archaeobotany classes in Cairo

Charred seeds from the Khentkawes Town site

Charred seeds from the Khentkawes Town site

Dr. Claire Malleson, AERA archaeobotanist and Giza lab manager, will be teaching a series of four classes at the Egypt Exploration Society in Cairo in February. The study of plant remains from archaeological excavations provides a wealth of information about life in ancient Egypt. This course will provide participants with an introduction to this specialist area of study.

Class One: What is Archaeobotany?
Why study plant remains what do they tell us?
The History of Egyptian Archaeobotany
Sources of evidence, art, texts, macro- and micro-botanical remains

Class Two: Archaeology and Archaeobotany
Archaeobotanical methods and techniques
Sampling strategies, sample processing, seed identification, recording

Class Three: Practical work with plants and seeds
Analysis of results working with data
Understanding problems in interpretation

Class Four: Practical work
Case-studies from excavations in Egypt
Course overview

Start Time: Thursday, 5th February 2015, 5:00 pm
End Time: Thursday, 26th February 2015, 7:00 pm
Location: The Egypt Exploration Society Cairo Office, 192 El Nil Street – Agouza, Giza, Egypt.

More information is available on the Egypt Exploration Society website.READ MORE »

2015 Field School Applications Open to Inspectors of MA

Giza 2015 Beginners’ Field-School
Saturday 31st January to Thursday 26th March, 2015
Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA)

AFT_ArApplications are now open to inspectors of the Ministry of Antiquities (MA) for the Giza 2015 Beginners’ Field-School run by AERA. There are 10 places for Inspectors of the Ministry of Antiquities currently working in the Greater Cairo area. Applicants must not have had a field-school before, and must have been with the MA for longer than one year.

The Giza Beginners’ Field-school provides training in basic archaeological techniques of excavation and recording including: written, drawn and photographic records; introduction to archives and databases; introduction to survey and GIS; one week excavation and recording of burials; one week laboratory work including an introduction to ceramics, archaeological illustration, faunal, botanical, and object recording; practice of report writing and presentations.

The field-school takes place from Saturday 31st January to Thursday 26th March, 2015. The field-school is non-residential. Students must be able to arrive in Giza at 6:30am and stay until 6:30pm every day except Thursday afternoon and Fridays. The teaching is in Arabic and English, but the archaeological recording and report writing is in English. Therefore students’ knowledge of English must be very good.

Applicants should send a two page Curriculum Vitae in English, and answer the following questions:

  1. Please describe any efforts you made to increase your archaeological skills and knowledge in the last 2 years (250 words maximum).

Season’s Greetings from Giza


Wishing you Happy Holidays and a prosperous and peaceful New Year

from the whole AERA team

From exploring Egypt’s ancient cities to training the next generation of Egyptian archaeologists, AERA’s work is made possible thanks to the support of our members.

We need your help to explore further.

The AERA team devoted much of 2014 to bringing together 40 years of information to create new reconstructions of the pyramid builders’ urban architecture and water transport infrastructure. Now we look forward to 2015. In eight weeks we begin new excavations and an international field school at the Lost City of the Pyramids.

AERA’s accomplishments are possible thanks to the support of a science-minded community of interest in ancient Egypt. As a member of that community, you make possible AERA’s discovery and training on a scale that would not be possible within a large institution.

Using our unique opportunity at the Giza Pyramids for field research, AERA continues to lead in archaeological training and cultural exchange. While reconstructing the past, we also establish relations throughout contemporary Egypt at a grassroots level to help build a future for Egyptian archaeology.

Help us keep our field programs vital and effective. Think of us in your year-end giving by donating to AERA, giving a gift membership, or by directly sponsoring an area of our research through our giving catalog.… READ MORE »

View the First Photos Taken from the Great Pyramid Summit

The animation below shows the first photograph taken from the summit of the Great Pyramid, a stereoview photo taken by E.L. Wilson in 1882. This photo also provides the first photographic record of the site where the Lost City of the Pyramids settlement (Heit el-Ghurab) lay buried under 2-6 meters of sand, not to be discovered until Mark Lehner and the AERA team began excavations in 1988.


E.L. Wilson, wearing a vest fashioned from the American flag, flanked by two Egyptians.

George L. Mutter and Bernard P. Fishman, the creators of Photoarchive3D, a vast digital archive of original 19th and 20th century stereoviews, kindly provided us with the image and wrote an article for AERAgram 14.1 with background information about it and more photographs from E.L. Wilson.

Download a copy of AERAgram 14.1 for more information and become a member today to receive future AERAgrams and help support our work in Egypt. READ MORE »

Ana Tavares to lecture in the UK, Berlin

Ana-cropped-350Ana Tavares, AERA’s joint field-director, will be giving three talks in November. All are open to the public.

Living in a cultic landscape: the Khentkawes settlement at Giza
November 14, 6:30pm
Lecture Theatre G6, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31 Gordon Square, London WC1
More information

Egypt’s archaeological heritage today: opportunities and challenges
Heritage Group panel discussion with Hratch Papazian (University of Cambridge), Giulio Lucarini (University of Cambridge) and Ana Taveres (University of Cambridge)
Nov 20, 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street, Cambridge UK
More information

Architecture of Hegemony: the Heit el-Ghurab and Khentkawes settlements at Giza
November 27, 6pm
Freie Universität Berlin, Ägyptologisches Seminar series
More information… READ MORE »

Ana Tavares to talk at the IFAO in Cairo

Ana Tavares, AERA’s joint field-director, will be giving a talk at the French Archaeological Institute (IFAO) in Cairo on September 17th at 6pm.

The Heit el-Ghurab and Khentkawes Old Kingdom settlements at Giza: exceptions or prototypes?

The Old Kingdom settlements at Heit el-Ghurab and within the Khentkawes complex, explored by Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), are part of the wider urbanism of ancient Giza.

The Heit el-Ghurab site, occupied during the reigns of Khafre and Menkaure, shows three distinct urban areas: an enclosed set of barracks for the rotating labour force engaged in the building of the pyramids; a ‘village’ of small houses, courtyards and alleyways possibly for a more permanent population; and an area of large villas for scribes and administrators. AERA’s excavations and the analysis of ceramics, animal bone, botanical samples and objects highlight the distinct character of each of these areas.

In contrast the Khentkawes site was excavated in the 1930’s. AERA’s salvage work focused on recording the architectural footprint and excavating the queen’s Valley Complex to the east. We have defined quite distinct phases of occupation and use, indicating that the complex, possibly started in the reign of Menkaure, was occupied throughout the 5th dynasty.

In this talk Ana Tavares will discuss the extent to which these two settlements are exceptions in this period, and define their place in the range of known Old kingdom urbanism.… READ MORE »

AERA’ s work ‘en français’

The Heit el-Ghurab and the Khentkawes sites are presented in an article in French by AERA’s archaeologist Delphine Driaux and by Ana Tavares, AERA’s co-field director.


The article entitled ‘Esquisse d’une mosaïque urbaine. Villes et villages de Giza à l’ancienne empire’ (Sketch of an urban mosaic. Towns and villages in Giza in the Old Kingdom) presents the contrasting types of settlement at Heit el-Ghurab and the Khentkawes sites and places them briefly within the wider settlement context at Giza.

The article appeared in the revue Égypte, Afrique & Orient – in an issue entirely dedicated to cities, settlement and gardens in ancient Egypt. The article brings AERA’s work to a French speaking audience and makes full reference to the team’s publications.

…bonne lecture!

Contents of issue N°72 – Villes, habitat et jardins (décembre 2013-février 2014)

D. Driaux & A. Tavares, Esquisse d’une mosaïque urbaine. Villes et villages à Giza à l’Ancien Empire
Chl. Ragazzoli, La ville et le jardin. Rêveries urbaines dans la littérature égyptienne
Chr. E. Loeben (traduit de l’allemand par F. Albert), Les jardins égyptiens – Les plus anciennes représentations de jardins conservées dans leur état d’origine.
S. Marchi, Construire et vivre à Migdol à l’époque perse. L’habitat en contexte fortifié de Tell el-Herr (Nord-Sinaï)

Learn Archaeology at the Pyramids!

Applications are now open for the 2015 Giza Archaeological Field Training.

Receive fully-professional archaeological field training, and US university course credits, by joining AERA’s Archaeological Field Training program at the Giza pyramids, in 2015. The training will take place from 31st January to 26th March, 2015.

Since 2005 AERA has been training Egyptian antiquities’ inspectors in collaboration with the American Research Centre in Egypt (ARCE). Over nearly a decade the AERA-ARCE field-schools acquired a reputation for rigorous archaeological training.

With the permission of the Ministry of State for Antiquities, AERA expands its successful training program to integrate foreign students. The training is accredited through the American University in Cairo which awards, those who successfully complete the program, eight academic credits. This intensive eight-week field program, takes place at the Old Kingdom settlement site of Heit el-Ghurab, at the Giza plateau, as part of AERA’s multi-disciplinary archaeological project.

The AUC-AERA training includes six full-weeks excavation, and one week’s laboratory work. Training on site comprises: excavation; site recording; survey; illustration and photography; and an introduction to bio-anthropology. In the lab and office: introduction to Archaeo-botany, Archaeo-zoology; Ceramics, Artefact, Lithics, Mud sealings, and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The comprehensive package covers tuition, accommodation and on-site food, tool kit and supplies, medical insurance, local transportation, and special field trips to archaeological sites in Greater Cairo.… READ MORE »

Click here for a complete list of our articles and other publications