Excavating the Old Kingdom. The Egyptian Archaeologists

In Egypt today it is generally believed that most of the archaeological discoveries that have been made in the country were achieved by foreign expeditions. Very little has been written about the efforts and successes of native archaeologists, yet numerous Egyptians have excavated at sites throughout the land and have contributed substantially to the field of Egyptology by means of their discoveries and research. Three generations of Egyptian scholars have worked in the Memphite region, mostly at sites within the cemeteries at Giza, Saqqara, and Dahshur, and this essay takes a number of their explorations as examples to shed light on native contributions to the study of the Old Kingdom.n Egypt today it is generally believed that most of the archaeological discoveries that have been made in the country were achieved by foreign expeditions. Very little has been written about the efforts and successes of native archaeologists, yet numerous Egyptians have excavated at sites throughout the land and have contributed substantially to the field of Egyptology by means of their discoveries and research. Three generations of Egyptian scholars have worked in the Memphite region, mostly at sites within the cemeteries at Giza, Saqqara, and Dahshur, and this essay takes a number of their explorations as examples to shed light on native contributions to the study of the Old Kingdom.1

Brief Description of the Memphite Region

The cemeteries of Memphis extend from Abu Rawash in the north to Meidum in the south and house tombs of kings, queens, and officials from the time of the Archaic Period to the end of the Old Kingdom.2 Abu Rawash, which includes a large cemetery dating back to the First Dynasty, is dominated by the unfinished pyramid complex of King Djedefre of the Fourth Dynasty.3 Farther south is the necropolis of Giza, site of the pyramid complexes of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure of the Fourth Dynasty and of many nonroyal tombs from the Old Kingdom. Presiding over Giza is the Great Sphinx, the first colossal statue known from pharaonic Egypt. As an archetype of antiquity, the image of the Sphinx has stirred the imagination of poets, writers, adventurers, and tourists for centuries. Originally a symbol of Egyptian kingship, in modern times it has come to stand for the Egyptian nation itself.4

The Layer Pyramid, built by Khaba in the Third Dynasty and characterized by a superstructure typical of the period, stands at Zawiyet el-Aryan, seven kilometers to the north of Saqqara. And about one kilometer to the northwest of the Layer Pyramid the so-called Unfinished Pyramid is found. This monument’s ownership remains in dispute, with some Egyptologists maintaining that it belonged to Djedefre of the Fourth Dynasty and others attributing it to Nebka of the same dynasty.

South of Zawiyet el-Aryan is Abusir, encompassing the pyramids of most of the kings and queens of the Fifth Dynasty, among which the pyramid complex of Sahure is the best preserved. The remains of two sun temples stand near Abusir, one of them at Abu Ghurab. As inscriptions reveal that six or more kings of the Fifth Dynasty had sun temples, we know that at least four such monuments have yet to be discovered.5

Saqqara, south of Abusir, one of the principal cemeteries of the Archaic Period, was chosen by Djoser, of the Third Dynasty, as his eternal home. It was in what later became the central section of this necropolis that the architect Imhotep constructed Djoser’s imposing Step Pyramid complex. A large step pyramid was begun nearby for Sekhemkhet, Djoser’s successor; this structure, which was never finished, lies southwest of Djoser’s complex and is known as the Buried Pyramid. Userkaf and Unis, the first and last kings of the Fifth Dynasty, built their own pyramid complexes near Djoser’s Step Pyramid, and in the Sixth Dynasty others were erected in the northern and southern parts of the necropolis, the most important being those of Teti, Pepi I, and Pepi II. Most of these Fifth and Sixth Dynasty pyramids are associated with cemeteries for officials and nobles of the same period, some of whose tombs have beautifully carved or painted chapels.

South of Saqqara are two other Old Kingdom cemeteries, the fields of Dahshur and Meidum. Snefru, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty, built three pyramids at these sites, the first at Meidum, the second and third at Dahshur.6 Important officials and relatives of the pharaohs of the early Fourth Dynasty were buried in cemeteries not far from these pyramids.

Three Generations of Egyptian Archaeologists

The following list records some of the most important scholars among the three generations of Egyptian archaeologists who have conducted excavations in Memphite cemeteries between Abu Rawash and Meidum from the late 1920s to the present day. The names are arranged according to the chronology of their activity.

First Generation: Selim Hassan; Zaki Saad; Zakaria Ghoneim; Abdel Hafiz Abdel-al; Kamal el-Mallakh;

Hag Ahmed Youssef; Hakiem Abou Seif; Abdel Salam Hussein; Ahmed Fakhry; Abdel Moneim Abu Bakr;Mounir Basta; Abdel Aziz Saleh; Mohamed Zaki Nour; Abdel Taweb el-Heta; Rizkall Makra-Malla Second Generation: All Radwan; Gaballa Ali Gaballa; Said Tawfik; Ahmed Moussa; Sami Farag; Mahmoud Abdel Razik; All el-Khouli; Abdallah el-Sayed Third Generation: Zahi Hawass; Said el-Fikey; Holeil Ghali; Khaled Daoud; Mohammed Hagrass; Magdy el-Ghandour; Orban E. Abu el-Hassan; Ahmed Abdel Hamied

The collective achievements of these men form a rich corpus of material that would be an appropriate subject for a future book. Here, however, space permits reference to only the few Egyptologists whose names are italicized, together with a brief discussion of some of the important discoveries they had the good fortune to make over the past eighty years.

The First Generation

Selim Hassan (1886-1961) (fig. 93) was appointed assistant curator at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, in 1921 and later studied Egyptology in Paris. He was the first Egyptian appointed professor of Egyptology in the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University. Well into his career as an archaeologist he read for his doctorate in Vienna, completing his studies there in 1939.7

In 1928 Hassan commenced his archaeological activities, working with the German Egyptologist Hermann Junker, who was excavating west of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Within a year Hassan was leading his own team from Cairo University, which undertook important and extensive explorations at both Giza and Saqqara that lasted until 1939. It is estimated that Hassan discovered more than two hundred tombs and thousands of related artifacts. Among his most important finds at Giza were the tomb of Queen Khent-kawes I and its associated temples and pyramid city. He also uncovered the tombs of Khafre’s sons and courtiers, as well as the solar boat pits of Khafre himself.8 In addition Hassan pursued excavations around the Great Sphinx, where he unearthed the temple of Amenhotep II.9

At Saqqara, Hassan excavated the Fifth Dynasty valley temple and causeway of King Unis.10 In the vicinity he uncovered many Old Kingdom tombs, as well as two large tombs that are of particular interest because they date much earlier, to the Second Dynasty. Toward the end of his career as an active archaeologist, at age sixty-eight, Hassan participated in the campaign to salvage monuments in Nubia, a project whose success he lived to see.

Without doubt Hassan ranks as one of the most important of all Egyptian archaeologists by virtue of his numerous discoveries at Giza and Saqqara as well as his many scholarly publications.11 The rare and beautiful stela of Ra-wer (cat. no. 144), which he found at Giza, appropriately represents this great Egyptologist’s contribution to Old Kingdom studies.

Zakaria Gboneim (1911-1959) (fig. 93) was awarded a Diploma in Egyptology at Cairo University in 1934. At the age of twenty-six he became Hassan’s assistant during the excavations of 1937 in and around the pyramid complex of Unis at Saqqara. In 1939 Ghoneim was appointed Inspector of Antiquities at Aswan; he spent more than a decade working in southern Egypt and became Chief Inspector of Upper Egypt in 1946. He held this post until 1951, when he was made Chief Inspector at Saqqara, where he discovered the unfinished pyramid of Sekhemkhet (fig. 94). Undoubtedly Ghoneim’s greatest discovery, the king’s pyramid was an important landmark in the study of Old Kingdom royal tombs and their contents.12 It yielded much valuable material, including a seemingly intact sarcophagus made of alabaster discovered within the king’s burial chamber. Once opened, however, it was found to be empty, and in fact not a trace of Sekhemkhet’s mummy was ever located. Three bracelets belonging to Sekhemkhet (cat. no. 19) exemplify Ghoneim’s finds in the present exhibition.

Ghoneim’s life ended tragically when, in a state of acute depression after he had been held responsible for the disappearance of an artifact, he drowned himself in the Nile. Barely a week later the object in question, which had been accidentally misplaced, was located.

Kamal el-Mallakb (1918-1987) (fig. 95) unearthed the boat of Khufu south of the Great Pyramid. His remarkable find, made in 1954 when boat pits were revealed below the surface of debris that was being removed from the area, ranks as one of the greatest discoveries in Egyptian archaeology. Its implications involve not only the burials of kings and the cult of Khufu13 but practical issues as well: the bark excavated by el-Mal-lakh and another that still remains in a second pit provide direct information relating to the construction of large-scale wood boats in antiquity, a subject formerly understood primarily from depictions in tombs.14

Other Egyptian archaeologists, including Mohamed Zaki Nour, Zaki Iskander, and Salah Osman, played roles in the discovery of Khufu’s bark, and we cannot speak of el-Mallakh’s accomplishments in this realm without mentioning our great restorer and conservator, Hag Ahmed Youssef.

Hag Ahmed Youssef {1912-1999) (fig. 96) started his career as a restorer with American Egyptologist George Reisner during the excavation of the tomb of Queen Hetep-heres I (see cat. nos. 31-33) and subsequently pursued his extraordinary craft at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. As the individual chiefly responsible for the restoration of Khufu’s boat, Hag Ahmed spent almost twenty-eight years working on its 650 parts and fitting together some 1,224 pieces of cedarwood. During the course of these labors he lived in a rest house near the tomb of Debhen and produced many beautiful photographs of the boat as it underwent reconstruction. His work saw its culmination in the display of the reassembled bark at the Cheops [Khufu] Boat Museum, which opened in Giza on March 6, 1982. The present essay can offer only a glimpse of Hag Ahmed’s achievements; indeed, an entire volume should be devoted to the life and accomplishments of this extraordinary man.

Ahmed Fakhry (1905-1973) graduated from the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University in 1928 and continued his education in Belgium, England, and Germany for the next four years. On his return to Egypt in 1932 he joined the Department of Antiquities, initially as an inspector at Giza, then at Luxor, and, finally, starting in 1938, as Chief Inspector of Middle Egypt, the oases, and the Delta. He also worked for a period in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. In 1952 Fakhry was appointed Professor of Ancient History in the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University.15 During his tenure he served as a visiting professor at many foreign institutions and became well known abroad.

Fakhry excavated extensively, conducting his most significant work at the oases, Giza, and Dahshur.16 In 1951 Gamal Mokhtar, then head of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, appointed him Director of the Pyramid Studies Project, with Giza as its center. Dahshur, however, became the site of Fakhry’s greatest discoveries. There, in October 1952, he found the so-called valley temple, or statue-cult temple, of the Bent Pyramid, in which he uncovered some 1,400 inscribed blocks, statues, and stelae.17 Fakhry’s Dahshur finds are his most important legacy, both for irrevocably establishing Snefru as the owner of the Bent Pyramid and for providing Egyptologists with information about the content of particular scenes as well as their positions within early Old Kingdom pyramid complexes. The valley temple reliefs from the Bent Pyramid complex, two of which (cat. no. 22) are included in the present exhibition, are arguably the most illuminating of Fakhry’s discoveries.

Abdel Moneim Abu Bakr (1907-1976) (fig. 97) studied at Cairo University under Alexander Golenischeff and read for his doctorate in 193 8 at Berlin University under the guidance of Kurt Sethe. In 1939 he began his teaching career at Alexandria University, moving to Cairo University in 1954. He taught the present author Egyptian archaeology as a visiting professor at Alexandria University in 1968. Between 1939 and 1953 numerous sites in the Giza necropolis, especially in the area to the west of the Great Pyramid, were excavated by Abu Bakr, who also participated in the Nubian salvage campaign between i960 and 1965. Only a portion of Abu Bakr’s work saw publication during his lifetime,18 and additional detailed studies of his expeditions would contribute much to our knowledge of Old Kingdom tombs at Giza.

Abdel Aziz Saleh (b. 1921) (fig. 98) received his Diploma in Egyptology from Cairo University in 1951. His fieldwork career commenced shortly thereafter, with excavations at Tuna el-Gebel in 1954-55. Subsequently he taught at Riyadh University and King Abdel Aziz University in Gada, Saudi Arabia, and then, in 1977, he became Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University. He is currently a member of many important archaeological committees. The topic of his dissertation, “Upbringing and Education in Ancient Egypt,” is of particular interest today, and his contributions to the field of Egyptian history, which he taught the present author, are original and important.

Perhaps Saleh’s most intriguing discoveries were made at Giza, just south of the causeway of Menkaure’s pyramid; here he found unique structures of stone rubble mixed with mortar that he calls “foundation embankments” and believes to be ramps that were used to transport blocks to building sites.19 He also uncovered what he has suggested is an open-air altar. Saleh found as well fifteen buildings made from rubble and mortar that in his view served as living and working quarters for an industrial community preoccupied with activities connected with the cult of Menkaure. Later study of the site by the present writer has confirmed this theory. Material evidence shows that the area was used for the manufacture of objects and foodstuffs essential to maintain the cult: ovens and fireplaces indicate the existence of a bakery and public kitchens, while other structures have been identified as workshops and official buildings, including a hall for scribes. These finds provide Egyptologists with new insight into the practical efforts that sustained a royal cult in antiquity. Although communal buildings of the kind Saleh uncovered are rare, it can be assumed that they must have existed in association with other pyramid complexes in the Memphite region and that more may yet be found.

The Second Generation

Ali Radwan (b. 1941) (fig. 99) read for his doctorate at Munich in 1968 and became the Head of the Egyptian Department of Cairo University in 1980. Seven years later he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology, a position he maintains in 1999. At present he is a member of a number of Egyptian and foreign committees concerned with education and Egyptology.

Radwan’s most significant contribution to Egyptian archaeology has been his work at Abusir, which commenced in 1988 and continued until 1993. He also applied modern excavation techniques to the site and trained young Egyptian archaeologists in the new methods. Most of his efforts in the area were concentrated in a location northwest of the sun temple of Niuserre, because the initial intention of his expedition was to search the area for other sun temples that were unknown except for mention of their names in the Abusir papyri and priestly titles. It came as a surprise, therefore, when he discovered a large cemetery dating back to the Predy-nastic Period (Naqada III) and the First Dynasty.20 (The earliest king named at Abusir is Den, of the First Dynasty, who is cited in inscriptional material.) The importance of Radwan’s achievement is based on the information uncovered about a cemetery dating to the Predynastic and Archaic Periods in a region not thought to contain such early burials.

Gaballa Ali Gaballa (b. 1939) (fig. 99) is currently the General Secretary of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, a position he has held since 1997. He received his doctorate from Liverpool University in 1967 and on his return to Egypt joined the teaching staff of the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, first as a lecturer and then as Dean of the Faculty. Gaballa is well known as the author of two useful books, the earlier one entitled Narrative in Egyptian Art and the later The Mempbite Tomb-Cbapel of Mose. The chapel of Mose, at Saqqara, was of particular interest to him primarily because it houses significant legal texts, which he translated and analyzed.21

The most important aspect of Gaballa’s explorations at the ancient capital Memphis, a project he began in 1987, was his use of modern scientific methods. Gaballa’s excavations commenced in the southeast corner of Memphis, about ninety meters from the Ptah temple, where he uncovered mud-brick walls, ovens, hearths, and granaries. Although detailed study of the area is still in progress, evidence gleaned so far from various sources indicates that the settlement dates between the late Eighteenth Dynasty and the beginning of the Nineteenth Dynasty.22 Said Tawfik (1936-1990) (fig. 99) studied Egyptology under Siegfried Schott and read for a doctorate at Gôttingen before returning to Egypt. In 1980 Tawfik was elected Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, and in 1989 he became Chairman of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, a post he filled until his death the following year.

His explorations pursued for Cairo University on a rich site south of the causeway of Unis at Saqqara beginning in January 1984 resulted in the unique and unexpected find of two cemeteries of widely separated periods, one lying above the other: Ramesside tombs in the upper level and beneath it others from the Old Kingdom.23 The Old Kingdom tombs, built of stone and mud brick, range in date from the Third Dynasty to the end of the Old Kingdom. Almost all of the material associated with this site remains unpublished, owing to Tawfik’s sudden death while excavations were in progress. It is hoped that, after a lapse of almost ten years, efforts will soon be made to ensure full publication of the tombs and artifacts he uncovered and to begin the considerable restoration and conservation of an expert nature that are required at the site.

Ahmed Moussa (1934-1998) first worked as Inspector of Antiquities at Saqqara, where he later became Chief Inspector, a post he held from 1962 to 1980. From 1980 to 1987 he served as Director General at Giza and Saqqara, but most of his activity was concentrated in the Saqqara necropolis. Perhaps his best-known discovery is the rock-cut tomb of Nefer and Ka-hay (fig. 100), uncovered south of the causeway of Unis, containing nine burials and, in a shaft below the east wall of the chapel, a wood coffin with an extremely well preserved mummy,24 Notable features of this tomb are its wonderfully bright and fresh painted reliefs, which include spirited depictions of daily life as well as more sober funerary scenes and inscriptions.

In addition Moussa made major discoveries relating to an Old Kingdom rock-cut tomb excavated in an area just south of Unis’s causeway in 1964 by Mounir Basta, then Chief Inspector at Saqqara. The inscriptions in the tomb reveal that it belonged to Ni-ankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep, who lived in the Fifth Dynasty during the reigns of Niuserre and Menkauhor and were palace officials, both married men with children who were perhaps brothers or related in some other way. Digging near the middle of the causeway of Unis in 1965, Moussa found the entrance to the extensively decorated chapel of Ni-ankh-khnum and Khnum-hotep, inside a unique stone mastaba connected by an undecorated open court to the rock-cut rooms Basta had uncovered.25

Moussa excavated part of the valley temple of Unis and also undertook important work at Memphis.26 His most remarkable accomplishments were in the field of Old Kingdom architecture and tomb decoration, as embodied primarily in his discovery of two of the best-preserved tombs of the Fifth Dynasty unearthed at Saqqara in recent years.

The Third Generation

The third generation of Egyptian archaeologists concerned with the cemeteries of Memphis is represented here by the present author and the team working under his direction. The efforts of this group, composed not only of archaeologists but also of architects, draftspersons, pottery specialists, and conservators, have resulted in many discoveries at Giza and Saqqara and, most important, the training in excavation techniques of those who will constitute the fourth generation of native Egyptologists. A number of our finds are included in this exhibition. The following summary is meant to place these objects, which were unearthed at three sites, in context.

1. Tombs associated with the workmen’s community at Giza

On April 14, 1990, the chief of the pyramid guards, Mohammed Abdel Razek, reported that an American tourist was thrown from her horse when the animal stumbled on a previously unknown mud-brick wall, located to the south of the colossal stone wall known as the heit el-ghorab, or “wall of the crow”—an accident that led to the discovery of tombs associated with what was presumably the workmen’s community at Giza.27 The mud-brick wall turned out to be a portion of a tomb, with a long, vaulted chamber and two false doors inscribed with the name Ptah-shepsesu. While not in the style of the great stone mastabas of nobles that lie beside the pyramids, Ptah-shepsesu’s tomb and courtyard are grand in comparison to the others we uncovered around it. Pieces of granite, basalt, diorite, and other stones of the kind used in the pyramid temples were incorporated into the walls of these more modest structures, suggesting that some tombs in the cemetery may belong to the pyramid builders or succeeding generations of workers who made use of material left over from the construction of the pyramids, temples, and great mastabas at the site.

The lower part of the cemetery contains about six hundred such graves, which presumably served workmen, and thirty larger tombs, which perhaps belonged to overseers. The tombs take a variety of forms: stepped domes, beehives, and gabled roofs. The domes, which are two to six feet high, cover simple rectangular grave pits and follow the configuration of the pyramids in an extremely simplified manner. An interesting example we came upon during our excavations in this portion of the cemetery is a small mastaba built of limestone that is similar in style to the tombs of the Fourth Dynasty. This tomb has six burial shafts and two false doors carved into its east face. Attached to the mastaba, but separate from it, is a room cut into the bedrock, which contained an intact burial, with pottery. A niche carved into the west side of the chamber was sealed, except for a small hole, with limestone, mud bricks, and mud mortar. We peered inside and were astonished to see the eyes of a statue staring back at us. We were even more surprised when we removed the mud bricks and limestone blocks and found not one sculpture but four limestone statues and the remains of another in wood. The four complete examples are inscribed for the “Overseer of the Boat of the Goddess Neith, the Royal Acquaintance, Inti-shedu.”28 The entire group of five, four of which are included in the present exhibition (cat. nos. 89-92), recalls the five statues of the pharaohs placed in most pyramid temples from the time of Khafre to the end of the Old Kingdom.

2. Tombs in the great Western Cemetery, west of Khufu’s pyramid at Giza

Our expedition was initially meant to publish the tomb of Nesut-nufer (G 1457) in the great Western Cemetery at Giza, but our explorations led to other finds. Nesut-nufer’s tomb was discovered by Reisner29 but had remained unpublished despite the owner’s very interesting titles and its proximity to the famous tomb of the dwarf

Seneb, found by Junker.30 The area west of G 1457 was covered with excavation debris disposed of by Reisner and Junker, which perhaps accounts in part for the neglect of the tomb; in any event, our architect requested clearance of the debris in order to complete his drawing of the mastaba’s plan. During this clearing the tomb of the dwarf Per-ni-ankhu was discovered.

On the east facade of this mastaba’s superstructure we encountered two false doors on whose drums Per-ni-ankhu’s name is inscribed. We also discovered the openings of three burial shafts; two housed artifacts and the skeletons of two women, and in the third was the skeleton of a dwarf, Per-ni-ankhu himself. Attached to the north side of the tomb the expedition found a serdab with a niche containing the statue of the seated Per-ni-ankhu (fig. 101; cat. no. 88).31 A rare example of a private statue carved in basalt, this is sculpted with such care and skill that it must be regarded as a masterpiece of Old Kingdom art.

For several reasons, the tomb and statue of Per-ni-ankhu have been dated to the Fourth Dynasty. For one, the serdab, which is very similar to the external serdab of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty, is situated outside the mastaba rather than within the superstructure, as in examples from the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties. Moreover, the use of basalt is indicative of an early date. This stone was employed extensively in the funerary complex of Khufu, the second king of the Fourth Dynasty, and no doubt there were large cast-off fragments available for statues in the sculptors’ workshops at Giza. The superb technical achievement of the sculptor who worked the hard stone with great confidence suggests an early date as well, as do the delicacy of detail and the strong facial features the piece exhibits. Indeed, the upper part of Per-ni-ankhu’s body shows strong affinities with the statuary of King Khafre (cat. no. 56), which is also carved from hard stone.

It: is instructive to situate Per-ni-ankhu in relation to two other famous dwarfs of the Old Kingdom: the Fourth Dynasty Seneb, who was the prophet of Khufu and Djedefre, tutor of a king’s son, and director of dwarfs in charge of dressing;32 and Khnum-hotep, of the Sixth Dynasty, who bore the titles Ka Servant and Overseer of the Ka Servants. Seneb’s titles are more important than those of both Per-ni-ankhu and Khnum-hotep, and the remarkable decorated false door of his tomb suggests high status as well. Per-ni-ankhu’s fine statue is superior in quality to that of Khnum-hotep and also displays more elevated symbols of office. This evidence indicates Seneb ranked highest, Per-ni-ankhu second, and Khnum-hotep third. Additional archaeological testimony allows further interesting speculation regarding Per-ni-ankhu’s place in society. His mastaba is quite close to that of Seneb, and the name of Seneb’s wife, Senet-ites, is inscribed in the tomb of the official Ankh-ib situated just north of Per-ni-ankhu’s monument. On the basis of the proximity of these burials and the connections indicated by the appearance of Senet-ites’ name in Ankh-ib’s tomb, we can surmise that the families of Seneb, Per-ni-ankhu, and Ankh-ib may have been related.

3. Excavations near the pyramid of Teti at Saqqara

The first project undertaken by our expedition at Saqqara was pursued in 1996 at the site of the pyramid of Queen Iput I, the wife of King Teti and mother of King Pepi I of the Sixth Dynasty. Here our aim was to clean and re-excavate the queen’s mortuary temple, located about one hundred meters to the north of the pyramid temple of Teti, and then to enter her pyramid.33 Numerous artifacts were uncovered during the excavation of the temple, the most significant of which was an object made from limestone that had been broken in two and incorporated in the pavement of a room north of the offering chamber.

When the two pieces were joined it became clear that they formed a doorjamb (cat. no. 3). The shape of the reconstituted object and the relief decoration and inscriptions it bore led us to conclude that we had probably discovered an architectural element from King Djoser’s funerary complex, dating back to the Third Dynasty, that had been removed from its original context and reused in the temple we were exploring.34

Our excavations of 1997 led us to the tomb of Teti-ankh, northeast of the pyramid of Teti. This tomb has a very simple layout, with an entrance on the south side, a hall and burial shaft, and a second long hall and passage leading to the offering room. The burial shaft near the north wall of the hall leads to the burial chamber, which is cut into the north side of the shaft. Inside the room we discovered an unpolished limestone sarcophagus containing a mummy in poor condition.35 The expedition found evidence that robbers had penetrated the tomb in antiquity—a hole they had driven through the north side of the sarcophagus, just large enough for a small child to squeeze through—and came upon lampblack that may have come from lamps used by these thieves.

Although this summary of the accomplishments of three generations of Egyptian archaeologists in the region of Memphis concludes here, it should be stressed that it would be possible to discuss many more if space permitted. It is worth noting as well that native expeditions made discoveries of parallel importance at other sites. While the present writer welcomes the opportunity to shed light on examples of the work of his Egyptian colleagues and of his own expeditions at Giza and Saqqara, he must also emphasize that the numerous accomplishments of the many native scholars who have contributed to Egyptian archaeology over the years should be recorded more extensively for posterity. As for the future, there are rich possibilities for Egyptian archaeologists to build on their past achievements, not only in the realm of excavations but also in the increasingly vital fields of survey, restoration, conservation, and the detailed recording of exposed monuments.


  1. In 1983 the permanent committee of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization decreed that no more foreign expeditions would be allowed to excavate at sites in the Memphite region. However, the committee still gives permission to excavate to both Egyptian and foreign expeditions, although, in my opinion, work at Saqqara in particular should focus upon the restoration, conservation, and recording of monuments that have already been excavated.
  2. For summary descriptions of the Old Kingdom pyramid sites, see Stadelmann 1985a, pp. 105-28; and Lehner T997, pp. 95, 107.
  3. Hawass 1980, pp. 229-42. A French, Swiss, and Egyptian expedition is currently working at the site.
  4. See Hawass 1992b; Hawass 1996a; and Hawass 1997c, pp. 168-91. See also Lehner 1997.
  5. Verner 1994a; Hawass and Verner 1996, pp. 177-86.
  6. Stadelmann 1980, pp. 437-49; Stadelmann 1985a, pp. 164-72.
  7. Dawson and Uphill 1995, pp. 192-93.
  8. Hassan’s Excavations at Giza was published in ten volumes from 1932 to 1960.
  9. Hassan 1949. He also found rock-cut tombs north of the Great Sphinx.
  10. Hassan 1955, pp. 136-44.
  11. Hassan’s extremely valuable publications comprise sixteen volumes on the history of ancient Egypt and more than fifty-three other books and articles.
  12. Ghoneim 1957.
  13. See Hawass 1987, pp. 53-86.
  14. Jenkins 1980; Hawass 1990, pp. 24-26.
  15. Dawson and Uphill 1995, p. 147.
  16. Fakhry 1935; Fakhry 1942-50; Fakhry 1993.
  17. Fakhry 1959; Fakhry 1961b.
  18. Abu Bakr 1953.
  19. Saleh 1974, pp. 131-54.
  20. Radwan 1991; Radwan 1995, p. 312.
  21. Gaballa (1977) noted that Mose’s tomb had not been located. However, subsequent to the publication of that volume, during the present writer’s excavation east of the pyramid of Queen Khuit at Saqqara, the tomb’s burial shaft, which contained blocks inscribed with the name of Mose, was discovered.
  22. Gaballa T989, pp. 25-27.
  23. Tawfik 1991, pp. 403-9.
  24. Moussa and Altenmiiller 1971.
  25. Moussa and Altenmiiller 1977.
  26. Moussa 1981, pp. 75-77; Moussa 1985, pp. 33-34.
  27. Hawass 1996b, pp. 53-67; Hawass and Lehner 1997, pp. 30-43.
  28. Hawass 1991a, pp. 29-32; Hawass 1991b, pp. 33-35; Hawass 1998, pp. 187-208.
  29. Reisner 1942, p. 210, fig. 12; Porter and Moss 1974, p. 64.
  30. Hawass 1987, p. 679.
  31. Hawass 1991c, pp. 157-62.
  32. Porter and Moss 1974, p. 101; El-Aguizy 1987, pp. 53-60.
  33. Loret excavated here from 1897 to 1898; Firth and Gunn followed him, and Labrousse has recently undertaken work in the area. See Loret 1899, pp. 85-86; Firth and Gunn 1926, vol. 1, pp. 11-14; and Labrousse 1994, pp. 231-43.
  34. Hawass 1994, pp. 45-55.
  35. A full report on the mummy will be included in the forthcoming publication of this monument.