Posts Tagged ‘Town of Queen Khentkawes’

Part One: Worlds in Miniature

Posted on May 28, 2014

*The next installments of our field blog will be a long story in four parts, by AERA Sealings Team Member and Managing Editor Ali Witsell. Before you read these next installments, we suggest you read John Nolan’s introductory sealings blog from the beginning of the season, for a refresher course on sealing terminology.

In a way, ancient clay sealings are a lot like postage stamps. To a philatelist, stamps encapsulate much about the society that they represent, be they a first-day issue 1847 5-cent Benjamin Franklin, an Egyptian 1879 5-piastre gray Sphinx and Pyramid, or a US 2013 Johnny Cash Forever stamp. A perusal of the offerings available in any US post office will give you a quick snapshot of that which American society values today: civic history and the battle for human rights; military history and heroes (even those 200 years removed from our own daily lives); beloved musicians, poets, athletes, and inventors; celebrated religious holidays and their most evocative imagery. But some stamps are purely decorative-colorful flowers, butterflies and birds, geometric designs-images chosen from the natural world around us. Just as the stamps you choose to buy in the check-out line of your post office speak volumes about you as an individual, so too will the images chosen for next year’s batch of new stamps tell philatelists around the world a good deal about your country.… READ MORE »

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 »

Volunteering Time At Giza

Posted on May 18, 2011

Posted by Steve LaPidus

I have spent the last six weeks as a volunteer on the AERA Giza Plateau Project with some of the most interesting and knowledgeable people I have ever met. I went on a site tour set up for the team early on in the schedule. We had a chance to walk through the sites, to listen to presentations and to ask questions on the project’s operations. It was easy to understand why there was a requirement by the Egyptian Government and AERA to submit your security paperwork six months in advance. It is obvious how much thought goes into the selection of the team members because there are multiple openings on the project and for each opening, there is a specific expert with just the right background and interest.

For the first five weeks, I shared a local apartment with a Swedish human osteologist Johnny (“Bones” for all of you who watch the TV show). He explained to me how he reviewed the excavated burials and drew the skeletons while determining the sex, age at death and whether there was any obvious disease before he had to remove the bones quickly as they easily crumbled apart if left for too long.… READ MORE »

Backfilling And Back To Writing

Posted on Mar 23, 2011

Posted by Dan Jones

As the 2011 excavation season at Khentkawes draws to a close, it is a chance for me to reflect on the past few weeks. The last week on site was very busy as we finished excavating, did extensive mapping to record the exposed archaeology, and organised post excavation photographs. The last few days were particularly hectic as back filling began.

Kasia and I were doing last minute note taking, checking, and measurements as the workmen moved ever closer covering the valley complex in a thick layer of sand. Although this season has been very eventful and time has as always flown by (there is never enough time!), we left the site for the last time with a sense of achievement. We answered many questions and obtained a great deal of information on the enigma that is the complex below the Khentkawes causeway.

We are back at the villa now pulling together all that new information and writing up our end of season reports. By combining this season’s work with that of the past years, we are able to build a fuller picture of the Khentkawes site as a whole. How the site was constructed, modified, grew over time, and was used is beginning to take shape and we look forward to publishing our findings.… READ MORE »

Khentkawes Town East: Returning to the Lower Buried Building

Posted on Feb 17, 2011

Posted by Dan Jones We re-started our excavation on the enigmatic structure that is situated at the eastern limit of the L-shaped Khentkawes mortuary complex. The 2008 and 2009 seasons revealed a wealth of information on this structure, aptly named the Lower Buried Building (LBB) due to its position at the base of an extensive quarry cut in the limestone bedrock.

The Old Kingdom builders put substantial thought and effort into LBB. Two ramps, one leading up from the south and one leading up from the north, give access to the causeway of the Queen’s mortuary complex from a lower open terrace. A higher-level corridor leads in from the east, accessed from the terrace by a stairway.

Our careful peeling back of the collapsed mudbrick during the previous two seasons has given us a better understanding of how the LBB was constructed and developed over time. Our investigations have also given us insight into the purpose of the LBB. We found votive offering pottery of the 4th/5th Dynasty. It is therefore possible that the LBB had a ritual function associated with the mortuary complex of Khentkawes.

Our overall aim this season at LBB is to test the ideas developed from our last season here in 2009.… 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 »


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.

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 »

Filling the gaps

Posted on Mar 12, 2009

Driving back to the hotel from the main dig site today, I was reminded of two features of the daily commute during my month digging with the AERA team in 2004: driving through the crowded suburb of Nazlet es Saman past the Sphinx and hearing three or four languages spoken at once in the microbus. French, Polish, Swedish, English, and Arabic were the interwoven music of drive time.

Today I heard almost exclusively Arabic because I was on the bus with Egyptian field school students.

All of these students work for Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities as inspectors. Most of the 1,500 or so inspectors in Egypt are trained in Egyptology, the study of the language and culture of ancient Egypt. The AERA/ARCE field school teaches them modern archaeological technique. 


Will Schenck has worked in Egypt for decades and has taught and done illustration with AERA in previous seasons. Will is teaching illustration to the students by giving them hands on training in the field and on computers. He also shows up on Betsy Bryan’s blog from the Mut Temple in Luxor (see Hopkins in Egypt in the blogroll).

One of the students remarked that although they use modern equipment at their jobs, such as total stations, GPS, and GIS, here at the field school they are learning the very basics of modern archaeology: drawing, surveying, excavation, and recording.READ MORE »

Curious Structures

Posted on Mar 5, 2009

Archaeology always presents fun puzzles to be resolved. Mike House recently found a puzzling structure while excavating a road or ramp within the Khentkawes complex.



The structure consists of a possible square mud brick plinth or platform (1.90m x 1.70m) with an additional mud brick extension to the east. The platform and extension were plastered, and only the lowest courses survive. Selim Hassan recorded it in the 1930s as a Wabet (w’bt) tent, although its function is unclear.


Its position in the road may suggest a different use; it may represent an administrative platform with steps leading up to it inside of a building.


Within, a small amount of a marl plaster floor survived to the north and east, extending up to an enclosing wall (represented by a single mud brick course). The west side of the feature has been slightly truncated by the later robbing trench excavated by Ana Tavares in 2008.


To the south of the platform structure, there appears to be an-out-of-phase wall, which appears at first inspection to be truncated by the platform. However, the plaster on the outside of the platform continues down between the wall and the platform. This phasing sequence leads me to believe that the wall may in fact be a form of partial collapse, which appears on Hassan’s plans as a wall.READ MORE »