Friday, April 16, 2021

New from the OI: OIP 144. The Sheikh's House at Quseir al-Qadim: Documenting a Thirteenth-Century Red Sea Port

Katherine Strange Burke, with contributions by Steven M. Goodman and Wilma Wetterstrom













This study of a thirteenth-century dwelling on Egypt’s Red Sea Coast draws on multiple lines of evidence—including texts excavated at the site—to reconstruct a history of the structure and the people who dwelt within. The inhabitants participated in Nile Valley-Red Sea-Indian Ocean trade, transported Ḥāǧǧ pilgrims, sent grain to Mecca and Medina, and wrote sermons and amulets for the local faithful. These activities are detailed in the documents and fleshed out in the botanical, faunal, artifact, and stratigraphic evidence from the University of Chicago’s excavations (1978–82).

This compound eventually consisted of two houses and a row of storerooms and became the center of mercantile activity at Quseir al-Qadim. Over time, as the number of named individuals who received shipping notes addressed to the “warehouse of Abū Mufarij” increased, living rooms and storerooms were added to accommodate this expansion of commerce. While most merchants were dealing in textiles, dates, and grains, additional commodities traded included perfumes, gemstone-decorated textiles, resist-dyed textiles, and porcelains. Specialist studies by Steven Goodman on the avian faunal remains and Wilma Wetterstrom on the macrobotanical finds reveal that the compound’s occupants enjoyed a diet of chicken and Nile Valley produce such as grapes and watermelon, and they were supplemented by high-priced imports: nuts and fruits from around the Mediterranean, along with medicinal plants from as far away as India, indicate the wealth and status of this family of merchants.

The evidence from this small portion of Quseir al-Qadim yields a rich local story that is a microcosm of Nile Valley-Red Sea-Indian Ocean trade under the last Ayyubid sultans of Egypt.

Table of Contents
1. Quseir al-Qadim and the Sheikh’s House
2. Ceramics
3. Plant Remains 1982. Wilma Wetterstrom
4. Avian Faunal Remains. Steven M. Goodman
5. Textiles, Basketry, Glass, and Coins
6. Texts in Context: The Sheikh’s House Texts
7. The Sheikh’s House in Context: Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt, and Beyond
8. Conclusions
Appendix A. Postscript: The Later History of Quseir al-Qadim and Early Modern Quseir
Appendix B. Locus Tables
Appendix C. Pottery Tables
Appendix D. Bone, Glass, and Coin Tables
Appendix E. Document Tables
Appendix F. Textile and Archaeobotanical Tables
Appendix G. Pottery Plates by Locus
Appendix H. Photographs of the Excavations and Several Small Finds    

  • Oriental Institute Publications 144
  • Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 2021
  • ISBN (hardcover) 978-1-61491-056-5
  • ISBN (eBook) 978-1-61491-058-9
  • Pp. 424 (lxiv + 360)
  • 57 figures; 85 plates; 21 tables
  • Hardback, 9 x 11.75 in
  • $129 (hardback)

For an up to date list of all Oriental Institute publications available online see:The Oriental Institute Open Access Publications


Urkunden zur Chronologie der späten 12. Dynastie: Briefe aus Illahun

Ulrich Luft

Das Archiv von Illahun, das wichtigste Tempelarchiv vor der griechisch-römischen Zeit, datiert in die zweite Hälfte der 12. Dynastie. Der Fund zerfällt in zwei Teile, die im Abstand von zehn Jahren 1889/90 und 1899 gefunden worden sind. Der erste Teil befindet sich heute im Petrie Museum London, der zweite fast gänzlich im Berliner Museum. Hinsichtlich des Fundplatzes wird Illahun für die Londoner Papyri angenommen, während die Herkunft der zweiten Gruppe durch einen Survey in Illahun im Jahr 1899 fast als gesichert gelten darf. Die Bedeutung des Berliner Teils wird noch dadurch erhöht, dass in dem Tempeltagebuch aus dem Jahr 7 des Königs Sesostris III. das Datum des heliakischen Aufgangs des Sirius angegeben ist. Dieses Datum ist seit seinem Bekanntwerden immer wieder zum Ausgangspunkt für die Festlegung der ägyptischen Chronologie gemacht worden. Neben dieser Briefkopie, die 1992 in der ”Chronologischen Fixierung" publiziert worden ist, gibt es noch eine Menge von Briefen mit Monddaten, die zur Festlegung des siderischen Datums benutzt worden sind. Diese Briefe sind jedoch nicht nur wegen der eingestreuten Monddaten interessant, sie erlauben auch einen tiefen Einblick in das tägliche Leben des ägyptischen Mittleren Reiches.

The archive of el-Lahun, the most important temple-archive before the Greek-Roman Period, dates from the second half of the 12th dynasty. The find is divided in two parts that were found ten years apart in 1889/90 and 1899. The first part is now in the Petrie Museum London, the second one almost completely in the Berlin Museum. The London papyri are said to have come from el-Lahun, while the second find's origin was determined with almost complete certainy in a survey in 1899. The Berlin find concentrates fully on the process of the mortuary cult of the king

Sesostris II while the London papyri comprise items of a more individual character like legal documents household lists, contracts, even literary pieces. The Berlin find comprises documents of the daily cult in the mortuary temple of the King such as letters, temple-diaries, supply and festival lists. The significance of the Berlin part is made even greater by the fact that the date of the Heliacal Rise of Sirius is recorded in the temple-diary of the 7th year of King Sesostris III.

ISBN 978-3-7001-3300-1

Print Edition
ISBN 978-3-7001-6643-6
Online Edition


2006  (ISBN-13: 978-3-7001-3300-1), 167 Seiten, 38x30 cm, broschiert, Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean VII, Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie XXXIV
€  59,–   
Open access

Open Access Journal: Damqãtum: The CEHAO News letter/ El Boletín de Noticias del CEHAO

[First posted in AWOL 9 September 2009. Updated 16 April 2021]

Damqatum es el boletín de noticias del CEHAO editado tanto en castellano como en inglés, con el que se busca acercar la comunidad científica al público en general, para lo cual se realizan entrevistas a destacados académicos y se promueven o informa sobre diversas actividades tanto de extensión como de grado y posgrado, como exposiciones, congresos, jornadas y seminarios.

Se aceptan todo tipo de contribuciones y/o información sobre eventos destacados sobre la historia de antiguo Cercano Oriente.
Damqatum is the CEHAO newsletter, edited in Spanish and English. The newsletter endeavors to present scholarly topics to the general public, publishing interviews to prestigious scholars and promoting or informing academic and extra-curricular activities, such as expositions, congresses, workshops and seminars
Damqatum accepts all kinds of contributions and/or information on important events of the history of the ancient Near East.

New Open Access Journal: Advances in Archaeomaterials

ISSN: 2667-1360
Go to journal home page - Advances in Archaeomaterials 
Archaeological sciences are now more than ever a fully integrated aspect within the field of archaeology. With the enormous wealth of techniques, methodologies, theoretical approaches, and regional case studies that have been published over the past two decades, it is time that a journal dedicated to reporting the "state of the field" of various archaeometric sub-disciplines be issued. For example, review articles can cover the use of a specific technique or methodology within a class or type of materials, a region, or some combination thereof that reports on a body of scientific approaches to the materiality of the past. Beyond excavation, it is these techniques that have delivered some of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the past two decades, and regional or methodological syntheses stand to greatly enhance the dissemination of cutting edge case studies within a broader context. Additionally, Advances in Archaeomaterials will also welcome original research, as long as it is contextualized within an expanded introductory framework, in the fields of archaeological science, cultural and industrial heritage, science and technology studies including history of science, and conservation science-as long as the focus is archaeometric research on human-made materials. Finally, special issues can be published in certain circumstances (contact the editors with queries), and manuscripts of interest to a broad audience published in Chinese can be translated into English and published as an article.

This will be the only journal dedicated to:
  • Articles synthesizing archaeological science research results in a region
  • Articles synthesizing archaeological science research results for a method or technique
  • Articles synthesizing archaeological science research results of specific ancient material classes (organic and inorganic)
  • Original research in the fields of archaeological science, cultural and industrial heritage, science and technology studies including history of science, and conservation science
  • Publishing English translations of Chinese scholarship to make it available to non-Chinese audiences.
  • Special issues can be published in certain circumstances (contact the editors with queries).
Volume 1, Issue 1 

Pages 1-108 (December 2020)

  • Editorial board members

    Page ii

  • Download PDF
  • Introduction: A Mission to Be Fulfilled

    Page iii

  • Download PDF
  • A Welcome Message from the Managing Editor

    Page iv

  • Download PDF
  • Plating and Surface Treatments on Ancient Metalwork

    Pages 1-26

  • Download PDF

    Glassmaking of the Qing Dynasty: A Review, New Data, and New Insights

    Pages 27-35

    Download PDF

    Archaeomaterials, Innovation, and Technological Change

    Pages 36-50

    Download PDF

    Soil, Hands, and Heads: An Ethnoarchaeological Study on Local Preconditions of Pottery Production in the Wei River Valley (Northern China)

    Pages 51-104

    Download PDF

    Fragments of Large Roman Statuary in the Museum of Catania, Sicily: Review of Stefania Pafumi's 2020 Disiecta membra. Frammenti di statuaria bronzea di età romana del Museo Civico di Catania

    Pages 105-108

    Download PDF

    Open Access Journal: Neograeca Bohemica

    ISSN: 1803-6414 (print)
    ISSN: 2694-913X (online)


    Variant title: Neograeca Bohemica: přednášky České společnosti novořeckých studií
    Variant title: Přednášky České společnosti novořeckých studií
    Publisher: Česká společnost novořeckých studií, z. s.
    Published: 2014-present 
    Description: Časopis Neograeca Bohemica, ISSN 1803-6414, je odborný recenzovaný časopis, který je publikační platformou pro odborné stati, recenze a zprávy ze všech oblastí pozdně byzantské a novořecké lingvistiky, literatury a historie (od 1204 n.l. do současnosti). Časopis také zveřejňuje překlady literárních děl daného období. Vychází jedenkrát ročně od r. 2014. Je pokračováním periodika Přednášky České společnosti novořeckých studií, které vycházelo v letech 2001–2013 (od r. 2008 již s paralelním názvem Neograeca Bohemica).
    Description: Neograeca Bohemica, ISSN 1803-6414, is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that provides a platform for original high-quality papers, reviews and reports concerning any areas of Late Byzantine and Modern Greek Linguistics, Literature and History (from 1204 A.D. up to these days). The journal also publishes translations of Late Byzantine and Modern Greek Literature. It is issued once a year since 2014. Neograeca Bohemica is a continuation of the periodical Přednášky České společnosti novořeckých studií (Lectures of the Czech Society for Modern Greek Studies) which was published from 2001 to 2013 (from 2008 onwards already with parallel shorter title Neograeca Bohemica).



    Volumes, Issues

    2020 (Volume 20) [1]

    2019 (Volume 19) [1]

    2018 (Volume 18) [1]

    2017 (Volume 17) [1]

    2016 (Volume 16) [1]

    2015 (Volume 15) [1]

    2014 (Volume 14) [1]

    2013 (Volume 13) [1]

    2012 (Volume 12) [1]

    2011 (Volume 11) [1]

    2010 (Volume 10) [1]

    2009 (Volume 9) [1]

    2008 (Volume 8) [1]

    Greek Painting in Context - Webinar Series

    Moderators: Jenifer Neils, American School of Classical Studies & Dimitris Plantzos, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens 

    About our Webinars: This new series of webinars considers rare surviving examples of Greek painting in its archaeological setting, namely palaces, houses, temples, and tombs. It will explore the extent to which the works’ original locations informed their pictorial programs, and demonstrate how ancient painters adapted their subjects to new contexts. Recent discoveries and new scientific advances have led to reevaluations of older material and exciting breakthroughs. In these seven webinars, expert scholars will discuss how paintings on walls and vases relate to their physical contexts as well as to their patrons. This series will be moderated by Prof. Dimitris Plantzos, author of The Art of Painting in Ancient Greece (Kapon 2018), and Prof. Jenifer Neils, Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
    In Search of Contexts: The Wall Paintings of the Mycenaean Palace at Pylos Revisited


    Thursday, April 15, 2021

    Making open access photos of ancient cultural heritage available via Flickr: a few thoughts by Dan Diffendale

    Making open access photos of ancient cultural heritage available via Flickr: a few thoughts by Dan Diffendale

    Daniel P. Diffendale is a Mediterranean archaeologist whose interests lie primarily in the first millennium BCE central Mediterranean. His current primary research focus is the use of volcanic building stone in the architecture of the city of Rome in antiquity. Since April 2007, he has shared his photographs in open access via Flickr. His over 10 000 photos are now widely used by scholars, either for their courses or for their publications. Klinai asked him to present his approach and his motivations.

    Let me start by addressing audience. Who are my photos for? Everyone, really, I hope. I hear from educators at various levels, especially university instructors, that they’ve used my photos in class, which is always lovely to hear, and I’ve had requests for use in books and articles. But I hope that they are also accessible to students directly, as well as to a wider public that has at least a baseline understanding of Mediterranean antiquity. One of my goals in making my photographs available is to expand the range of what’s accessible online. I’m not sure many people, even a lot of specialists in various part of antiquity, fully understand just how incredibly much ancient material culture is preserved. Even if what is preserved amounts to, at best guess, perhaps 1% of what once existed, it’s still a vast amount of material. And I’m trying, not always successfully, to allow people to access more of that variety—things like organic materials, cookpots, the “imperfect” or the just plain weird—and to see things that don’t make it to the textbooks or the popular retweet factories.

    Why Flickr? Well, I joined Flickr way back in 2007, but that was not my first attempt at sharing photos of antiquities. I think it was some time around 1998 when I added a section to my Geocities site to host photos of Roman sites and artifacts in Britain, taken during a family vacation there. My cataloging impulse goes way back; when I was a kid my dad used to take me to photograph trains in the next town over, and I’ve got boxes full of train slides that I suppose I could scan someday. (This is a good place to thank my dad for giving me my first hand-me-down cameras, a 110 film camera—I think a Vivitar—and then a 35mm Pentax, and for teaching me the rudiments of light and composition).

    Click through to read the rest.

    Bibliothèque numérique de l'Ifao

    IFAO - Institut français d'archéologie orientale 

    La politique éditoriale numérique de l’Ifao

    Notre politique éditoriale numérique répond à plusieurs objectifs :

    • Favoriser un accès direct et libre aux contenus scientifiques issus de la recherche la plus récente. Au moment de la publication papier, nous proposons la mise en ligne au format ePub de l’ensemble de nos revues sur Open Edition Journals. Cette option Freemium permet de donner plus de visibilité et de rayonnement à nos revues, avec une diffusion internationale, la possibilité d’un meilleur référencement, et une interopérabilité avec des revues du même champ.  Elle permet également de rendre les données de la recherche accessibles à des lecteurs parfois réfrénés par le tarif des publications scientifiques. Elle s’appuie sur la possibilité de produire du XML natif à la PAO depuis 2015.
    • Généraliser la publication bi-support (papier/numérique) à l’ensemble des collections. Publiés sur le site de l’Ifao, les PDF de nos nouveautés seront aussi bientôt commercialisés par Casalini et par ISD pour le marché américain.
    • Valoriser le catalogue : "Bibliothèque numérique de l'Ifao".  Cette valorisation prend deux formes : d’une part, l’Ifao souhaite proposer progressivement un catalogue exhaustif, jouant sur la complémentarité du numérique et du papier, en publiant les PDF des ouvrages épuisés. Ainsi, sous une forme ou une autre, PDF ou papier, le lecteur aura accès à tous les titres du catalogue de l’Ifao, publiés depuis 1880. D’autre part, certaines références du catalogue, constituant un outil de travail pour les chercheurs, sont mises en ligne, comme les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques des temples de Dendara, d’Edfou et d’Esna.


    Les publications en ligne s’inscrivent dans un environnement numérique où le référencement et l’interopérabilité des données sont essentielles : notre politique numérique s’accompagne donc d’un travail sur les métadonnées et les identifiants numériques, en concertation avec les autres services de l’Ifao (bibliothèque, archives, service informatique) et au sein du réseau des Écoles françaises à l'étranger.

    Nos revues en Open Access 

    OpenEdition Freemium est un programme pour le développement de l’édition scientifique en libre accès dans le domaine des sciences humaines et sociales. Les contenus sont en libre accès – revues, livres, carnets de recherche et annonces scientifiques –, complétés par des services et formats premium mis à disposition exclusivement pour les institutions et leurs usagers. Ainsi, les textes sont accessibles en libre accès au format HTML pour tous. Ils sont téléchargeables aux formats PDF et ePub uniquement pour les utilisateurs des institutions partenaires. Aucun DRM ni quota de téléchargement ne sont appliqués.

    Retrouvez les derniers numéros de nos revues au format ePub sur Open Edition Journals :

    Retrouvez tous les numéros de nos revues au format PDF et en accès libre :


    Nos nouveautés au format PDF

    Retrouvez dans le catalogue de l'Ifao toutes nos nouveautés commercialisées au format PDF.

    Bibliothèque numérique de l'Ifao

    Progressivement, l'Ifao met à disposition des chercheurs, en accès libre, les PDF d'ouvrages épuisés ou d'ouvrages de référence qui constituent un outil de travail pour le chercheur. 

    Excavating the Extra-Ordinary: Challenges & Merits of Working with Small Finds: Proceedings of the International Egyptological Workshop at Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, 8–9 April 2019

    Andrea Kilian und Monika Zöller-Engelhardt (Hrsg.)
      Excavating the Extra-Ordinary

    Der internationale Workshop “Excavating the Extra-Ordinary. Challenges and merits of workings with small finds“ beschäftigte sich mit der herausfordernden Arbeit mit scheinbar ‚gewöhnlichen‘ Kleinfunden und ihrer Aufbereitung. Hierbei präsentierten und diskutierten im April 2019 an der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz Spezialistinnen und Spezialisten aus ägyptologischen Grabungen, Museen und Institutionen aktuelle Erkenntnisse. Der vorliegende Band bietet Beiträge dieses Workshops, darunter der Umgang mit großen Materialmengen, fragmentarischen Funden und methodischen Problemstellungen. Die besprochene Materialvielfalt reicht dabei von Keramik, über Holz- und Knochenfunde bis zu Metallobjekten. Einen weiteren Schwerpunkt bildet die Auseinandersetzung mit unzureichenden frühen Grabungsdokumentationen und gestörten Fundkontexten. 

    Monika Zöller-Engelhardt, Andrea Kilian

    Freier Zugang – alle Rechte vorbehalten

    Freier Zugang – alle Rechte vorbehalten

    ISBN 978-3-948465-92-6 (PDF)
    ISBN 978-3-948465-93-3 (Hardcover)

    Veröffentlicht am 14.04.2021.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2021

    Old Excavation Data. What Can We Do?: Proceedings of the Workshop held at 10th ICAANE in Vienna, April 2016

    Edeltraud ASPÖCK - Seta ŠTUHEC - Karin KOPETZKY - Matthias KUCERA (Eds.)

    The book describes theoretical and technical approaches to the digital integration of resources from old and long-term archaeological fieldwork projects in the Eastern Mediterranean region and Near Eastern states. All papers share a concern with the heterogeneity of resources from archaeological fieldwork, and they present a variety of strategies to overcome this challenge in the process of digitisation in order to preserve archaeological data and make it more accessible to researchers regardless of location. This volume results from presentations given at the workshop titled ‘Old Excavation Data – What Can We Do?’, held on 28 April 2016 at the 10th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE) in Vienna.

    Dieses Buch behandelt die digitale Integration von Ressourcen aus alten archäologischen Langzeitforschungsprojekten im östlichen Mittelmeerraum und in Ländern des Nahen Ostens. Alle Arbeiten befassen sich mit der Heterogenität der vorliegenden Quellen und präsentieren unterschiedliche Strategien, um diese Herausforderung zu meistern. Der Band stammt aus einem Workshop mit dem Titel "Old Excavation Data – What Can We Do?", der am 28. April 2016 auf dem 10. International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE) in Wien stattfand.

    ISBN 978-3-7001-8450-8
    Print Edition
    ISBN 978-3-7001-8800-1
    Online Edition

    OREA 16 
    2020,  122 Seiten mit zahlr. Farb- und s/w-Abb.29,7x21cm, gebunden, englisch
    €  89,–   
    Open access

    Edeltraud ASPÖCK
    is a researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage).

    Seta ŠTUHEC
    is a repository manager at the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Austrian Academy of Sciences

    Karin KOPETZKY
    is an Egyptologist at the Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

    Matthias KUCERA
    is senior researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute ArchPro and lecturer at the University of Vienna

    Mesopotamian Dark Age Revisited: Proceedings of an International Conference of SCIEM 2000 (Vienna 8th-9th November 2002)

    Hermann Hunger - Regine Pruzsinszky

    Der Spezialforschungsbereich „Synchronisation of the Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd Millennium B.C.“ führt ein eigenes Subprojekt zur Chronologie Mesopotamiens durch. Im Rahmen des Subprojekts wurden mehrere Wissenschaftler, die auf diesem Gebiet Forschungen betrieben haben, zu einem Workshop am 8. und 9. November 2002 nach Wien eingeladen, um ihre Ansichten zu diskutieren und im Gespräch zu klären. Dabei sollte das Augenmerk nicht so sehr auf das eigentliche Mesopotamien, sondern vor allem auf seine westlichen und nördlichen Nachbarn gerichtet werden. Im vorliegenden Band werden die Beiträge zu dieser Konferenz in stark überarbeiteter Form vorgelegt. Folgende Regionen sind behandelt worden: das Reich Mittani, das Gebiet am mittleren Euphrat, die Städte Emar und Alalach, die Hethiter, und schließlich Babylonien. Der Band gibt damit einen Überblick über den derzeitigen Stand der Chronologie des 2. Jahrtausends v. Chr. für die Länder östlich des Mittelmeers.

    Within the framework of the Austrian special research programme "Synchronisation of the Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd Millennium B.C.“, a separate project on Mesopotamian sources was established, in the course of which a small workshop was organised on chronological research concerning the middle of the 2nd millennium, a "Dark Age“. Scholars who worked on this topic were invited to Vienna to discuss their respective views on November 8 and 9, 2002. The focus of discussion was to be not so much Mesopotamia proper, but mainly its western and northern neighbours. The contributions to the workshop were subsequently reworked in the light of the discussions and are presented in this volume. The regions concerned are the kingdom of Mittani, the Middle Euphrates, the cities Emar and Alalakh, the Hittites, and finally Babylonia. In this way the volume provides an overview of the current state of research on the chronology of the second millennium B.C. in the countries east of the Mediterranean.

     ISBN 978-3-7001-3278-3
    Print Edition
    ISBN 978-3-7001-3935-5
    Online Edition


    2004  95 Seiten, 30x22cm, broschiert, Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie XXXII, Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean VI
    €  25,–   
    Open access

    Hermann Hunger
    ist Professor für Assyriologie der Universität Wien

    Meketre: an online repository for middle kingdom scenes

    [First posted in AWOL 26 July 2014, updated 14 April 2021 (relaunce - new URLs)]

    Meketre Scene Repository: the online repository for middle kingdom scenes



    The Middle Kingdom (11th to 13th Dynasty, ca. 2030 – 1640 B.C.) constitutes one of Ancient Egypt’s outstanding epochs. Art, architecture and literature flourished and reached a peak hardly surpassed in later periods. A large number of rock-cut tombs, free-standing tombs (mastabas) and other funerary structures testify to the high quality of craftsmanship at that time. The overall concept of the tomb with its symbolic allusions to self-representation had a decisive influence on the scenes, the scene content and the distribution of representations of the tomb owner. Middle Kingdom tomb decorations offer a wide variety of complex and multi-layered information that is in the focus of our research.

    About Painted for Eternity (2019 – )

    Decoration of Middle Kingdom Coffins from Beni Hassan – an Art Historical Case Study

    Painted for Eternity is an interdisciplinary research project, conducted at the Institute of Egyptology in cooperation with the Vienna University Computer Center at the University of Vienna. The project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, project number P 31390-G25).

    The project seeks to investigate the painted figurative decoration of the Middle Kingdom box shaped coffins from an art historical perspective. The cemetery at Beni Hassan – an important necropolis in Middle Egypt with the largest set of coffins deriving from archaeological excavations and covering a time span from the 11th Dynasty up to the reign of Senwosret III or slightly later – has been chosen for the present case study.

    Beni Hassan (henceforth BH) was the burial place of the governors of the 16th Upper Egyptian Nome whose rock-cut tombs are among the best-known and best-preserved examples of Middle Kingdom private funerary architecture. Below these impressive monuments of high-ranking officials, scattered across the slope of the hill, the so-called lower necropolis with tombs belonging to officials of lower ranks was discovered, yielding a significant amount of coffins. These rather simple shaft tombs, mostly without any superstructure, were excavated by John Garstang during two archaeological seasons in the years 1902/03 and 1903/04 and published in 1907. Garstang uncovered almost 900 tombs, of which about 20 were found intact. His monograph, although full of flaws and lacking detailed descriptions of the individual tombs and the burial equipment, is still an invaluable source of information on the funerary customs of the middle class.

    More than 50 BH coffins and coffin fragments are nowadays accessible in museums all over the world representing the subject matter of the present project. About 25 further coffins are (at least partially) known from Garstang’s publication as well as from the excavation photographs, which are kept at the Garstang Museum at the University of Liverpool. Furthermore, there are at least seven canopic boxes from BH which are equally important due to the presence of similar decorative patterns.

    The self-contained character and accessibility of the coffin corpus, the circumstances that allow to take their context into account, as well as the immediate vicinity of contemporary decorated tombs of the upper class make BH a well-suited candidate for the envisaged project.

    Project details

    The project Painted for Eternity officially started on the 15th of February 2019 and will run four years.

    Art historical domain


    The main focus of the research will be an art historical analysis of the decorative elements painted on the coffins – ornamental frames, ornamental hieroglyphs, representations of wDA.t-eyes, architectural elements including the false door and the palace façade, offering table with associated piles of offerings, and object frieze. The study will involve an in-depth analysis of their iconography including the colouring, the layout, the elaboration of potential stylistic traits and artistic developments as well as the identification of workshops or artists. Special attention will be given to the so called object friezes, their selection, positioning and arrangement. Subsequently, the coffin decoration will be compared with the paintings in the Beni Hassan tombs of high-ranking officials as well as with coffins from other Middle Kingdom cemeteries.

    Non-ornamental texts written in small hieroglyphics, cursive hieroglyphics or hieratic script do not form part of the analysis. The project’s intention is not the study of the inscriptions on the coffins (neither a translation nor a philological discussion are attempted), their content, however, will indeed be considered, especially with regard to the labels provided in the object friezes.

    Scientific Approach

    The BH coffins and canopic boxes shall be subjected to the following art historical questions:

    1. What is the layout of the decoration of these coffins?
    2. How were the particular decorative elements, such as the ornamental frames, wDA.t-eyes, false doors, palace façades and offering tables rendered in terms of shape, design, colouring, geometric patterns and other features used?
    3. What observations can be made with respect to the object friezes? Which objects were represented and how (shape, colour, etc.)? Are there significant similarities or differences in their rendering on individual coffins? Do the objects conform to some rules (“decorum”) concerning their selection, positioning and arrangement?
    4. What is the design of the ornamental hieroglyphs (palaeography)?
    5. Is it possible to elaborate some stylistic traits and/or differentiate between workshops or even individual artists? Was it usual for a coffin to be decorated by one artist only or are there indications that several persons were involved?
    6. Can the typologies and chronological developments established by Harco Willems and Günther Lapp be verified and refined?
    7. Comparison with the paintings in the BH rock-cut tombs
    8. Comparison with two- and three-dimensional representations of coffins
    9. Comparison with MK coffins from other necropolises

    The quality of the documentation is imperative and makes the photographic recording of the coffins crucial for an art historical analysis. As a consequence, professional high-resolution photography will be provided by the museums. For publication purposes, it is also envisaged to prepare accurate line drawings in black and white (in Adobe Illustrator or comparable vector graphic software) of selected details of the coffin decoration. These will be especially needed for a comparative analysis of the individual decorative elements.

    It should be stressed, however, that it is not the project’s initial intention to provide an exhaustive study, treatment and publication of the entire coffins, i.e. the study of the technical details (construction), the investigation of the material used (wood species, grounding, pigments) or the technique of the painting. The aim is to collect as many images as possible from the walls of these coffins in order to enable a careful art historical analysis. It goes without saying that crucial details will be checked against the originals in the museums in order to reach valid conclusions.

    The major output of the project shall be a monographic treatment of the decoration of the BH coffins, based on the various research questions outlined above.

    Technical domain


    The analysis will make use of the MEKETREpository, an extensive database of Middle Kingdom tombs of officials, especially those at Beni Hassan, which provides an invaluable source of information on the Middle Kingdom art, and which resulted from the ‘MEKETRE Project’ and from the project ‘From Object to Icon’, both of which were directed by the applicant Prof. Dr. Peter-Christian Jánosi (FWF, P21571–G21 and P25958–G21). Part of the present project shall cover its extension by adding detailed records of the Beni Hassan coffins, and an update to meet the FAIR Data principles and guarantee its future usability.

    About From Object to Icon (2013 – 2018)

    Visual Reflections on and the Designations of Material Culture in the Reliefs and Paintings of Middle Kingdom Tombs

    From Object to Icon is an interdisciplinary research project, conducted at the Institute of Egyptology in cooperation with the research group Multimedia Information Systems at the University of Vienna. It is based on the research that was initiated with the project MeKeTRE (see below). The project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, project number P 25958).

    The decorative programme of Middle Kingdom tombs offers a wealth of themes and scenes all featuring numerous objects – artefacts – made or given shape by humans and shown/used in various contexts. The project deals with the assessment and study of these objects – their three-dimensional “existence” compared to and contrasted with their two-dimensional rendering in art. It seeks to answer the questions what kind of objects were depicted to convey the meaning of certain processes or actions, and most importantly how these objects were transformed into images (icons). This research will be supplemented by a full investigation of captions and object designations. The project’s third part covers the extension of the MEKETREpository (developed in the course of the MeKeTRE project) by utilising crowd sourcing technologies that will allow scholars in the Egyptological domain to access efficiently pre-processed data such as images and annotations.

    Project details

    The project From Object to Icon (‘Vom Vorbild zum Abbild‘) officially started on the 15th of November 2013 and will run three years.

    Art historical domain


    A large number of artefacts have survived from tombs and settlements of the Middle Kingdom enriching our view of the material culture of that period. Most of these artefacts are treated in archaeological reports, museum or exhibition catalogues, or – to a lesser degree – are dealt with in special monographs. In discussing Middle Kingdom representations numerous scholars already drew attention to three-dimensional artefacts which the depictions were intended to illustrate, but only exceptionally are objects and tools discussed in depth in relation to their two-dimensional representations. Isolated objects – such as daggers (Petschel 2011), axes (Kühnert-Eggebrecht 1969) or clothes (Scheele 2005) – have been investigated one by one in great detail, but comprehensive investigation of objects – their depictions and the captions accompanying them – remains a desideratum. The only major contribution in this connection is G. Jéquier’s book on object friezes (1921), which is however outdated concerning both lexicology and especially morphology of object designations.

    Scientific Approach

    The confrontation of these two groups – the ‘material objects’ and images of them – can be done on different levels: a) cultural remains investigated by archaeology can be recovered in contemporaneous reliefs and paintings, b) the terminology used to designate archaeological finds can be adopted for their reproduction in art, c) the development and the assumed function (‘Sitz im Leben’) of the discovered items can be verified or modified by studying their images and vice versa. In addition, the examination of the nomenclature used in the Egyptian language to designate these objects also can help to classify them and reveal their purpose. The study of the material culture, its ‘conversion’ into two-dimensional art as well as its designation in written sources can contribute to the understanding of both the preserved cultural remains and their representations in the tombs dated to the same period.

    It is envisaged to subject the icons illustrated in art to archaeological as well as art-historical questions crucial for their examination:

    1. Which artefacts were represented in art?
    2. How are artefacts represented in two-dimensional art – the relation between representation and reality? This transformation conveys to the viewer the meaning and the very essence of an object (e.g., a particular type of box) or a certain step in a manufacturing process (e.g., handicrafts).
    3. Was the development of material culture immediately reflected in contemporaneous art?
    4. Were some of the represented artefacts specific to a particular region?
    5. Does the range of use of artefacts correspond to the context represented in art and vice-versa?
    6. Are icons simply representations of the material culture or do they have a deeper symbolic meaning?

    The nomenclature of icons will be analysed in great detail, since many scenes and icons are accompanied by captions explaining the actions performed and naming the objects involved. The object designations as found in captions will be analysed lexicologically and morphologically to obtain additional information on the objects’ nature and their specific features. The lexicological investigation will be based on and supplemented with philological and linguistic research. The analysis of what the Egyptians deemed important to express in words in connection with an object and how depiction and caption complemented one another will be equally essential for understanding the Egyptian mind.

    Technical domain


    For the assessment of icons, the system of the MEKETREpository, which has been developed in the course of the MeKeTRE Project (see below), will be extended by utilising crowd sourcing technologies (e.g. Citizen Science, Game With a Purpose). This will provide scholars from other institutions, as well as non-experts with some background in Egyptology, with an easy-to-use platform where they can perform simple repetitive but yet highly helpful tasks, such as uploading images depicting relevant art items, providing annotations, or suggesting inclusion of new thesaurus terms. The expected results are twofold. First, we aim to acquire extensive material (especially photographs) that has the potential to complement the data already collected in the course of the MeKeTRE project. Second, the methods developed and applied in the implementation and data gathering process will constitute a contribution on their own, hopefully providing valuable insights about quality assessment and integration of data coming from citizen science projects.

    About MeKeTRE (2009 – 2013)

    The Evolution of Scene Content in Middle Kingdom Tombs

    MeKeTRE was an interdisciplinary research project, conducted at Institute of Egyptology in cooperation with the research group Multimedia Information Systems at the University of Vienna. It was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, project number P 21571).

    MEKETRE focused on two main goals:

    • It sought to systematically collect, research, and study the reliefs and paintings of Middle Kingdom tombs of Ancient Egypt. The project targeted two- dimensional art of the Middle Kingdom (11th to 13th Dynasty, ca. 2040 – 1640 B.C.) and one of its main aims was to map and elaborate the development of the scenes and their content in comparison to the Old Kingdom.
    • The project's technical part covered the research-based development of the MEKETREpository, a specialised software solution that supports the assessment, organisation and analysis of the collected material and bibliographic metadata. It supports the collaborative development of ontologies and collaborative annotation on the available media material. The copyright of the database will remain with the Institute of Egyptology, University Vienna, which means that this institution is entitled to host and develop it. The repository was made accessible to scholars, teachers and students worldwide, thus giving an easy access to updated information about scenes and scene details in Middle Kingdom tombs.

    Project details

    The MeKeTRE project officially started on the 1st of November 2009 and ended in May 2013. The acronym MeKeTRE stands for "Middle Kingdom Tomb Relief Evolution". The name derives from the owner of the famous early Middle Kingdom tomb in Thebes (TT 280) and should signify the project's main focus, i.e. the art of the Middle Kingdom (MK). The project From Object to Icon (see above) is based on the MeKeTRE project and can be considered its second phase.

    Art historical domain


    The first comprehensive assessment of Middle Kingdom reliefs and paintings were published by Luise Klebs in 1922 (Die Reliefs und Malereien des mittleren Reiches. (VII.-XVII. Dynastie ca. 2475-1580 v. Chr.), Heidelberg). Despite its deficiencies – acknowledged already by the authoress herself – the book is to a certain extent still a valuable reference in art historical research. In 1934 vol. IV of the indispensable Porter and Moss (PM) edition was published (B. Porter, B. Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings. Vol. IV: Lower and Middle Egypt, Oxford) assessing all the data pertaining to the important Middle Kingdom cemeteries situated in Middle Egypt. Since then, no update of this important egyptological tool has been accomplished, creating a considerable gap in scientific research. From 1968 to 1978 Jacques Vandier dedicated three volumes of his gigantic enterprise Manuel d’archéologie égyptienne to the reliefs and paintings (Manuel d’archéologie égyptienne. Vol. IV, Paris 1964; vol. V, Paris 1969; Vol. VI, Paris 1978). In these books Vandier grouped the various scenes systematically according to their contents and tried to trace chronological developments in style and iconography. His study rests on a much larger collection of scenes and depictions then Klebs’s work and forms an essential basis in art historical research. Nevertheless, since the appearance of the last volume (1978) dealing with the agricultural scenes in tombs, no other comprehensive publication has been undertaken.

    Scientific approach

    It is widely accepted that Middle Kingdom funerary monuments were carrying on the essential idea of tomb-building and decoration from the Old Kingdom on a grand (sometimes even royal) scale. Nevertheless, the decorative programme – scenes and specific scene details – although modelled on Old Kingdom examples has changed considerably. A large number of scenes and scene details characteristic in the tombs of the Old Kingdom disappear during the Middle Kingdom, while others occur which were not present in the former period or are carried on under modified versions. These changes and innovations – although repeatedly observed – have never been studied on a large scale.

    Since change and innovation constitute a fundamental part in understanding Middle Kingdom funerary culture, the project MeKeTRE aimed to establish reliable criteria for the interpretation of tomb decoration:

    1. when and where do specific scenes (or scene details), motifs or larger scene compositions appear or disappear,
    2. when and where are they carried on under modified versions,
    3. what is the deeper meaning of these new or modified scenes in comparison to the Old Kingdom scenes, and
    4. what is the specific connotation of these scenes in the overall scheme of tomb decoration?

    Besides the points outlined above key areas of the research targeted also the topics like topographical and regional diversity, traditions, schools and travelling artists, location and distribution of scenes, stylistic analysis etc., which are crucial for the art of the Middle Kingdom.
    As all the points outlined above necessitate a comprehensive assessment of the material, an exhaustive and easy-to-use tool such as a bibliographical database for Middle Kingdom reliefs and paintings is a fundamental device. Egyptology has witnessed an enormous increase in the quantity of books, catalogues and periodicals dealing with the art of the Middle Kingdom in the past 40 years. Consequently, the bibliographical workload of any future research in this field has accumulated considerably. One part of this Middle Kingdom research project was therefore the establishment of a comprehensive assessment of published and unpublished material in a database. In its final version, the database should encompass all known scenes and scene details with the entire bibliographical references from Middle Kingdom two-dimensional art, thus creating a reliable source for the future research.

    Technical domain


    To support the points outlined above, special software was developed for organizing, analysing and sharing the collected multimedia material (drawings, photos, text documents etc.) taken from the MK reliefs and paintings. Approximately 20 general themes (theme complexes) were selected for the MEKETREpository, into which fit approximately more than hundred Middle Kingdom scenes-types and scene details which occur in named and unnamed tombs throughout Egypt, and/or on blocks in magazines, museums and private collections. The location of the individual scenes of each specific scene-type is listed in the database, with data such as the main archaeological references, site, cemetery, tomb number, date, room, wall position etc. The general themes and the themes that derive from the representations constitute the ‘upper layers’ of the database. The themes are arranged according to the topics already provided in Klebs (1922) and Vandier (1964 – 1978) and are widely known in the academic world (for instance: marsh-related activities, desert and desert-related activities, animal-husbandry, workshop activities, funerary rites etc.). From this point onwards it is possible to ‘drill’ downwards to more refined levels, in order to reach the details (icons) that occur in specific scene-types, and in the specific motifs of each accessed scene-type (f.e. specific objects, fauna and flora as well as mannerisms, figure-types and postures, etc.). From this basic structure the researcher can access archaeological, bibliographical, chronological, and geographical information about scores of Middle Kingdom scenes and scene details throughout Egypt.

    Scientific approach

    Multimedia content within the MEKETREpository is organized by means of one main taxonomy (in English), which embraces the various themes depicted by the reliefs and paintings in a hierarchical fashion and multiple additional concept schemes (ontologies / controlled vocabularies) that further describe the content. The concept schemes that describe other aspects of the multimedia content (not the depicted persons and things but for example colours, location, age, etc.) are constantly developed in the course of the project, using collaborative ontology building methods. The applied concept schemes are technically represented using standardized web based knowledge organization systems (KOS), in particular the Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL).
    The implementation of the MEKETREpository software solution utilizes industry-standard technology to ensure both reliability and maintainability. Since the project is expected to develop beyond the three-year limit, it is important to build on a well-proven foundation of software components and a clean, well documented implementation. Therefore we decided to organize the MEKETREpository in a 3-tier style which is very common for many enterprise software solutions.
    As stated above, the main focus lies in providing an easy-to-use interface to the collected data. For the user browsing the MEKETREpository, an up-to-date webbrowser (e.g. Firefox 3.0)