2021 Year in Review

December 21st, 2021

This holiday season we are grateful for all of our members who’ve given us the opportunity to continue our research in Egypt. Thanks to you, we are back in Giza and hard at work on three back-to-back field projects.

We are so excited to be able to share this update from the field with you. Your membership or end of year donation will help ensure that 2022 will be our busiest and most exciting year yet!


We have three major field projects we will be working on through 2022

We began this year’s fieldwork by digging pilot trenches in the soccer field that covers the southeastern part of the “Lost City of the Pyramids.” We’ve been waiting more than 20 years to see what is under the soccer field. Preliminary data from these trenches, along with new information from Pierre Tallet’s work at Wadi el-Jarf, hints that an undiscovered palace and harbor for the 4th Dynasty pyramid-building kings may be buried here!

After a short break for the holidays, we will be returning to oversee the demolition of the soccer field and begin a major excavation of the buildings that remain untouched underneath. We are excited to once again work with young Egyptian archaeologists and have the opportunity to share with them our methods of systemic archaeology and site recording. We will also be working with a film crew from National Geographic to document and share our work as we search for the “Palace of Khufu.”

Our second project this year was a return to the Menkaure Valley Temple where we have now explored the entire western third of this massive temple, including areas that were previously unexcavated. Temple walls towered 3m (10 feet) over us as we worked!

We also continued exploring the “Thieves Hole,” where George Reisner found the famous Menkaure dyad statue. He thought more statues were to be found even deeper in the hole. It is now filled with ground water, but more statue fragments keep coming up as we dive toward the bottom, more than 15 feet under the temple floor. We look forward to continuing our work here next year to see what else we find.

For our third project, thanks to a generous grant from the American Research Center in Egypt, we will be working with Dr. Zahi Hawass at the Great Pyramid Temple to expand the walkway we previously built around the Pyramid Temple and install new signage to inform tourists about this important site.

We will also begin a conservation project to consolidate and replace part of the 1940’s restoration of the black basalt pavement of the pyramid temple court. When we previously took up two small patches of this “restored” pavement, we found new fragments of finely carved and painted scenes that originally adorned the pyramid temple’s walls. This year we will certainly find more!



We also have two major publications coming out in 2022

On January 11, Pierre Tallet and Mark Lehner’s new book The Red Sea Scrolls: How Ancient Papyri Reveal the Secrets of the Pyramids will be published. The discovery of the Red Sea Scrolls―the world’s oldest surviving written documents―was one of the most remarkable moments in the history of Egyptology and changed what we know about the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza. In this book, Tallet and Lehner narrate this thrilling discovery and explore how the building of the pyramids helped create a unified state, propelling Egyptian civilization forward.

We are also putting the finishing touches on a catalogue of all artifacts from AERA’s 34 years of excavations. Ancient artisans fashioned the tools that built the great pyramids and supported its workers from bits of stone, metal, clay, pottery, and bone. We are excited to share this everyday Old Kingdom toolkit with you online in the months to come. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy a preview of some of these fascinating tools (along with some holiday cheer) in the image at the top of this email.

We are so grateful for our members and donors who make our work possible. We hope you will continue this journey of discovery with us through your continued support and membership in 2022.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the new year from Mark Lehner & the entire AERA team!


Our members and donors support our excavations in Egypt, field school training, conservation efforts and much more. Members also receive printed copies of our AERAgram newsletters and annual reports as soon as they are published. Join AERA and help us explore further!

AERA is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, nonprofit organization. Your membership or donation is tax deductible.