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Examples of recording in the funerary archaeology of Egypt

In general it can be said that excavators were more interested in, and produced more accurate records, the older the tomb. For example, Junker published in 1913 in great detail the Early Dynastic cemetery at Turah. About thirty years later he published in twelve volumes parts of the Old Kingdom (about 2686-2181 BC) cemetery of Gizeh. These focus on art; small finds, pottery and disposition of burials are often only very briefly described. Reisner worked in Gizeh at about the same time and produced much more detailed records, but most of these are not yet published.

other archaeologists in Egypt
before 1900

Naqada (excavation year: 1895)

a selection of tombs published in drawings; finds only briefly described

most tombs drawn in the notebooks; finds not described in detail

for many tombs no plans; in many cases the finds can be identified from marks on the objects and records in museums

The publication is highly selective; but Petrie pays considerable attention to small finds (for example stone tools and pottery)

Dahshur , de Morgan

Highly selective publication and recording of finds. Some tombs are described and published with plans and colour photographs. Other finds and tomb groups are either omitted or only briefly mentioned. The publication focus is on art objects. Pottery is in general only presented in complete tomb groups.


after 1900

Gizeh 1907

Plans published for individual tombs, but without general map of the area around the mastaba.

The single tombs found around the mastaba are described briefly in the publication.


Only a selection of objects found is published; even when a tomb is selected for publication, not all finds from it are included in the publication.

see Gizeh subsidiary tomb no. 50

Naga ed Deir. Excavated by Reisner in 1901-105, 1910-1912, 1923-1924. The publication provides detailed plans of all tombs, and a listing of all finds.

Tura. Excavated by Junker 1909-1910 and published in Junker 1913. Detailed plans of most of the tombs.


Publication of a Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC) cemetery at Abusir. Many tombs and objects are described in detail; however, the pottery and many small finds are almost all omitted.

Schäfer 1908


Gerzeh 1911 (excavator: Wainwright, working for Petrie);
Petrie/Wainwright/Mackay 1912
Wainwright used tomb cards to record each single tomb, giving a sketch of the tombs and a list with the finds.
The publication gives only a short description and summary of the finds and of the whole cemetery, no single tombs are presented.


publication of the tomb of Senebtisi.

The undisturbed but water-damaged burial of Senebtisi (Twelfth Dynasty) is published in great detail.

Mace 1916

In his publication of the Tarkhan cemetery, Petrie makes this criticism of the work of Reisner (Naga ed-Deir) and Junker (Turah):

A publication should be selective, showing only important finds



Tarkhan, excavated in 1911-12. There are tomb cards with plans of all tombs. In the publication Petrie published the tombs in tables. In the first volume he gives for pottery only the types found in each tomb, while in the second volume he also records the number of pots in each pottery type found.



Harageh (excavated by Engelbach in 1913-1914)

There are tomb cards, but only pottery types are recorded. The tomb cards give no plans for individual tombs.

The tombs are published in a register. The publication is very careful on pottery types, beads and other small finds, but provides only the types (Engelbach 1923).
It is not possible to reconstruct single tombs from the surviving records.


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