The project will spend over eight months surveying the locations of tombs
in the necropolis to help refine the satellite map, to add data where
possible, and to correct where necessary. Here it has seven specific
- survey the tombs on the ground by taking their differential GPS
coordinates, aligning these ground coordinates with those of the satellite
- to locate and record the coordinates of tombs that are inaccessible to
satellite photography, including new tombs recently uncovered and older
tombs covered by modern structures; the latter are documented in early maps
and accounts and unpublished plans;
- to confirm the designations and identifications of certain tombs which
are otherwise unclear or ambiguous;
- to make digital images of the exteriors of tombs previously
- to identify and map the official SCA monument zones in the necropolis,
as well as the individual residential areas, villages and clusters of
houses, and to delineate the boundaries among them;
- to make notes and observations not previously recorded about the tombs;
- if feasible (given the limitations of dial-up networking in Luxor) to
upload on a regular basis the new GPS coordinates, images and data
regularly to the GIS server at the College of Charleston, where it will
become immediately available to all scholars through the OLGIS-TN Web page.
The project will begin by taking differentially corrected GPS
coordinates of the 439 individual tombs and structures that it has already mapped
visually by satellite around Qurnah hill (Upper and Lower Enclosures, the
Plain and el-Khokha). Thereafter, it will continue to map by GPS all
the remaining tombs beyond the original 439, including those in other
monument zones of the necropolis, i.e.: Qurnah (front and back of the
hill), the Asasif, Deir el-Bahari (north and south), Dra Abu el-Naga,
Qurnet Murai, Deir el-Medina, and--hopefully--Medinet Habu and the
Ramesseum. Special attention will be made to locate and map tombs now
obscured or buried by modern structures (houses, enclosures, etc.).
A tally of the tombs in all the main cemeteries of the private necropolis,
as listed by Porter and Moss, Topographical Bibliography I/1 and
Kampp, Thebanische Nekropole, reveals a total of 1,014 tombs. This
number does not include: the unnumbered tombs at Deir el-Medina and
el-Tarif; many tombs in Porter and Moss, Topographical Bibliography
I/2; some tombs in the Carter-Carnarvon concessions, and the many
unnumbered burial pits of the non-elite which are worthy of recording, if
for nothing but to plot the spatial distributions of common folks' burials.
The hundreds of Old and Middle Kingdom tombs at el-Tarif are being saved
for future study, and they are not part of this tally.
Taking GPS coordinates for the large number of tombs in a single extended
season is not an impossibility. An 8.5-month season from October to
mid-July translates into nearly 195 effective working days (taking into
account weekends, holidays, necessary days in Cairo, etc.). However, given
the realities of fieldwork, it will probably be less. Therefore an estimate
of 180 days seems more realistic. Thus, recording 5 tombs per day yields a
total of 900 completed tombs; 10 tombs per day = 1800 tombs. Hence, the
project could probably complete the ground survey in 8.5 months, if it
averages between 5 and 10 tombs per day.
Importantly, the project performs no excavation or clearance, other than,
perhaps, to clean away just enough debris from certain tomb entrances,
where absolutely necessary, to take the GPS readings. With only few
exceptions, it does not enter tombs but works only outside (except in the
few cases where interior architecture must be compared to existing plans).
Whatever the survey accomplishes will be a remarkable effort, and it will
go a long way to making the satellite map more accurate and complete.
© 2005-2006. Peter A. Piccione. All