Posts Tagged ‘George Reisner’

101 Years of Degradation

Posted on Feb 10, 2011

Posted by Amelia Fairman

This is the second week into our attempt at examining the Menkaure Valley Temple, last seen with archaeological eyes by George Reisner, one hundred and one years ago.  Excavation goals aside, re-visiting a site for which there are countless photographs, backed up by (geo-rectified) plans should be relatively simple…  Should.

Amelia Fairman on site at Valley Temple of Menkaure (photo by Mohsen Kamel)

At this point I should state that, as a rule, I don’t judge previous fieldwork by the archaeological standards of today.  There are many different ways of digging and recording/excavation methods have advanced dramatically over the past century.

HOWEVER, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t cursed Reisner’s name repeatedly over the past week for one simple reason: his  lack of backfilling of the precise area I’m working in.

Egypt has a relatively dry climate but rain isn’t unheard of.  Rain combined with episodes of hot, cold, and wind equates to untimely death for mud-brick structures.  I could describe the state of what I’ve witnessed so far in one simple word, but it would probably get bleeped out.   In polite terms, the temple is basically a bit smaller and rougher around the edges than it might have once been, or even what it could have been had someone taken the tiny steps to put back a bit of sand. … 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 »


Occupation

Posted on Mar 18, 2009

A small group of us had dinner with Mark Lehner last night and I caught up with him at the dig site this morning. One of the fascinating stories he told today was about the apparent pattern of occupation, abandonment, and then reoccupation of the Menkaure valley temple (MVT) and perhaps the Khentkawes town (KKT) as well.

Column base at entrance to MVT; recorded by Reisner, re-excavated by AERA.

Column base at entrance to MVT; recorded by Reisner, re-excavated by AERA.

AERA is re-excavating areas that Reisner and Hassan both recorded. In general, those researchers, however, did not do an in depth study of the phasing of the two sites, which was not common in their era (although Reisner did two phases in MVT). Phasing refers to an examination of the relationships between stratigraphy or layers of archaeology to determine when structures were built relative to each other. This is one of AERA’s key goals at MVT and KKT.

Reisner recorded evidence of perhaps 350 years of occupation in the town that eventually overtook the Menkaure temple. When the temple town was abandoned, layers of aeolian (windblown) sand accumulated. Those layers were subsequently built upon when the site was reoccupied. The last king of the 6th Dynasty, Pepi II, left a record that he restored the temple during his reign, hundreds of years after Menkaure’s son had inaugurated his father’s cult.READ MORE »