Posts Tagged ‘Mark Lehner’

Late Period Burials

Posted on Mar 4, 2009

The excavations at Giza are off to a roaring start. One of the challenges of excavating the Lost City at Giza is that there are hundreds of Late Period burials (747-525 BC; see A Girl and Her Goddess) above the 4th Dynasty layers.

They’re fascinating to study but they slow us down, as each one must be excavated and recorded. The osteology team, led by Jessica Kaiser, is very busy, as you’ll see from the excerpts below of team member Scott Haddow’s field report of but two of many excavated burials.

The burials mostly cover an area of our main dig site near the Wall of the Crow. We also find them in the excavations at KKT, the town built around the monument of Khentkawes, northwest of the Lost City. Last week the osteology team excavated a couple of interesting burials.

Burial 461

At KKT, Burial 461 was a skeleton that had several pathological lesions, including a severe case of osteomyelitis (a deep infection of the bone, usually resulting from a penetrating wound) involving the entire left tibia, and several cervical vertebrae with signs of degenerative joint disease on the vertebrae.

Based on the appearance of the reactive bone on the infected tibia, it appears the lesion was active perimortem (at the time of death) and may have led to the death of the individual through septicaemia (blood poisoning).READ MORE »

Valentine's Day

Posted on Feb 20, 2009

On Valentine’s Day there was an impressive 42 people working in the Giza Lab! This included three of the Advanced Field School classes – Illustration, Ceramics and Human Osteology, plus the ‘regulars’. I’ve put photos up in the lab with the names of all of the students in the five Field School groups to help everyone get to know everyone else at this early stage.


My trusty assistant Claire Malleson of Liverpool University has arrived and its great to have her back. Day after day, she sits at her microscope plugged into her iPod and steadily works her way through the many samples of ancient botanical remains we have from our main site Heit el Gurob, as well as the nearby Khentkawes. She’s a tremendous help to me since I often have to run around dealing with a myriad of lab issues and it’s great to leave the botany department in her capable hands.


Laurie Flentye has also started back at the lab this week. An American living in Cairo off and on for the last 5 years, Laurie’s specialty is the decoration, materials, and architectural elements used in 4th Dynasty Giza tombs. In the Lab, she analyses the pigments and painted plaster from the site.READ MORE »

Giza Field School 2009

Posted on Feb 11, 2009

Students and teachers have begun to arrive for AERA’s 2009 Giza Field School, cosponsored once again by the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE). We welcome back some of the 2007 Giza Field School alumni and 2008 Luxor Field School graduates. The students will be learning advanced skills in:


  • Ceramics
  • Illustration
  • Survey
  • Osteology (excavation of human remains) 

We’re proud to say that some of our graduates will be teaching classes to their fellow Egyptians. This is a great advantage, as it means they’ll teach classes in Arabic and the foreign instructors can take a step back. This helps us fulfill our mission of eventually making the Field School an Egyptian-run operation.


Our aim is to teach comprehensive archaeological skills to the cadre of inspectors who oversee all of the historic sites in Egypt, to better equip them to protect Egypt’s fragile and increasingly-threatened heritage.


The American Research Center in Egypt launched the first field schools in the 1990s and in 2005, AERA made the Giza Plateau Mapping Project and Lost City site a platform for a more optimized field school. We thank our colleagues at the Supreme Council of antiquities, especially Dr. Zahi Hawass and Shabaan Abd el-Gawad, for their continued support.READ MORE »

In the Shadow of the Pyramids

Posted on Feb 6, 2009

AERA’s Giza Lab officially opened for the season on Sunday, February 1st, 2009. It’s a funny place, doesn’t look like much from the outside – a low, one story brick-and-cement bunker painted a yellowish dung color – a building of little consequence nestled amongst Giza’s imposing pyramids.

AERA's storeroom and laboratory.


When the rusty metal door opens with its loud clang, however, a different impression emerges as one’s eyes adjust to the light, and especially as one descends into the heart of the lab. Much larger than imagined and everywhere, boxes! These, stacked high on floor to ceiling shelves, are all labeled with the details of their contents and of their origin.


These six rooms of detail contain the narrative of the nearby settlement of the Giza pyramid builders, the traces left behind by the inhabitants of this Lost City. Our large and diverse lab team hails from 12 nations and it’s our job to recover stories from the pottery, objects, human bone, animal bone, plants, mud sealings, chipped stone tools, pigments, plaster, wood charcoal, roofing material, mud brick.

There is much to do before the lab crew begins to arrive this week and, as ever, our Egyptian inspector and my team of local workmen are on the job.READ MORE »

Ready to dig at Giza

Posted on Feb 3, 2009

AERA's goals for the 2009 field season at Giza.