Ancient Egypt Research Associates

Ana Tavares, AERA’s joint field-director, will be giving a talk at the French Archaeological Institute (IFAO) in Cairo on September 17th at 6pm.

The Heit el-Ghurab and Khentkawes Old Kingdom settlements at Giza: exceptions or prototypes?

The Old Kingdom settlements at Heit el-Ghurab and within the Khentkawes complex, explored by Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA), are part of the wider urbanism of ancient Giza.

The Heit el-Ghurab site, occupied during the reigns of Khafre and Menkaure, shows three distinct urban areas: an enclosed set of barracks for the rotating labour force engaged in the building of the pyramids; a ‘village’ of small houses, courtyards and alleyways possibly for a more permanent population; and an area of large villas for scribes and administrators. AERA’s excavations and the analysis of ceramics, animal bone, botanical samples and objects highlight the distinct character of each of these areas.

In contrast the Khentkawes site was excavated in the 1930’s. AERA’s salvage work focused on recording the architectural footprint and excavating the queen’s Valley Complex to the east. We have defined quite distinct phases of occupation and use, indicating that the complex, possibly started in the reign of Menkaure, was occupied throughout the 5th dynasty.

In this talk Ana Tavares will discuss the extent to which these two settlements are exceptions in this period, and define their place in the range of known Old kingdom urbanism. Characteristic elements of planned settlements appear already well developed at Heit el-Ghurab and the Khentkawes complex and may be viewed as prototypes for the distinct planned urbanism of later periods.

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