Kromer Dump Site

4th Dynasty, Old Kingdom

Giza Plateau

Project Dates

Previous Excavators
Karl Kromer

Giza plateau map

The location of the Kromer Dump site on the Giza plateau

The Kromer Dump (KRO), first excavated in the 1970s by Karl Kromer, was a massive municipal trash dump full of settlement waste and demolition debris from work on the Giza Plateau. The jumbled-up trash in this dump lacks the contextual and stratigraphic information that would be found in a settlement site, but the arid location high up in the desert assured excellent preservation of artifacts that provide valuable insights into 4th Dynasty Giza and the Lost City of the Pyramids site.

During the 4th Dynasty, workers lugged baskets full of trash up to this desert site, about 550 meters due south of the Sphinx. We were able to determine that this debris came from two different locations, as reflected in the tip lines left from each separate basket dump (see images below). These lines indicate the direction from which the contents were poured: tilting down from east to west meant the basket was dumped from the east, while tilting from west to east meant the dumping was from the west.

The East Dump

The baskets dumped from the east were full of debris from the Lost City of the Pyramids, the only large site to the east of the dump. We believe much of this trash was construction debris from demolishing an older city to make way for Khafre’s pyramid city. It is very likely that this older settlement was Khufu’s pyramid city. 

The East Dump contained numerous sealings. These are bits of clay impressed by a cylinder seal and are comparable to the wax globs stamped by a signet ring that were once used to seal letters. We know that these sealings can be traced to the Lost City, because we discovered a cylinder seal used at the Lost City had also impressed some of the sealings found at the Kromer Dump. 

While Khafre and Menkaure sealings have been found at the Lost City, no Khufu sealings have been discovered there so far. However, at the Kromer Dump sealings were found bearing the names of both Khufu and Khafre. This is our best evidence so far connecting Khufu to the Lost City site. 

The West Dump

In another area of the Kromer site, the baskets were dumped from the west. However, we believe their contents actually came from a site to the northwest of the dump, probably near the area where the Menkaure Valley Temple was later built. Workers would have approached the dump site from the west though because of the topography of the area. Their loads of trash came from from a palace-like structure dating to the time of Khufu. Karl Kromer proposed this structure was the site of a royal “road house” where the king could check on the the construction progress of his pyramid complex.

Kromer Dump Photogallery

Selected Bibliography 

2019. Malleson, Claire. “Am I Ancient? Solving Archaeobotanical Riddles From a 4th Dynasty Municipal Dump.” AERAGRAM vol 20 no 2, pages 18–21.

2018. Lehner, Mark. “Kromer in Context: Biography of an Ancient Dump.” AERAGRAM vol 19 no 2, pages 2–13.

2018. Lehner, Mark. “Giza Plateau Mapping Project.” Oriental Institute 2017-2018 Annual Report. Edited by Christopher Woods. Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, pages 87-98.

2018. “Field Season 2018: The Search for Khufu.” AERA Annual Report 2017-2018, pages 4–5.

2018. “The Search for Khufu in the Lab.” AERA Annual Report 2017-2018, page 6.

2018. Witsell, Ali. “Kromer 2018: Basket by Basket.” AERAGRAM vol 19 no 1, pages 2–9.

2018. “From the Lab: Mechanics of an Influx.” AERAGRAM vol 19 no 1, pages 10–11.

2017. Witsell, Ali. “From Khufu to Kromer: A Jubilee Agenda Thirty Years in the Making.” AERAGRAM vol 18 no 2, pages 30–31.