The Egyptian Expedition

Originally Published in 1930

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THE first report from the Museum’s Expedition to Meydum has been received. During the first two weeks of the season Mr. Rowe worked on clearing the interior of Seneferu’s pyramid, and removed a strip of debris from the center of its western and northern sides, so as to expose the outer casing blocks [Plate II]. Inscriptions on loose blocks of stone in the debris gave the dates of the sixteenth or of the seventeenth year of the king’s reign, and of the workmen who built the pyramid. The gang names were placed in red paint on the stones before the blocks left the quarry, probably with the object of making a tally of the number of stones turned out by each gang at the end of the day. In the Meydum instance, at least, this would account for the date being placed on the stones, a feature not observed elsewhere. Mr. Rowe has also found the ancient levelling lines of red paint which enabled the builders to set the horizontal courses of masonry with precision.

Clearing the entrance to the pyramid at Seneferu, Meydum, Egypt
Clearing the entrance to the pyramid at Seneferu, Meydum, Egypt

“The clearing of the pyramid passages,” he writes, “is a long and tedious job, as the further we penetrate the worse the air becomes. In fact, when we had reached the bottom of the sloping passage leading from the outer entrance, just at the point where the passage runs into an ante-chamber, we were able to work for only one hour each day. At the end of this time our candles went out, warning us that it was unsafe to remain inside any longer.”

During the latter part of the month Mr. Rowe devoted his attention to the clearing of a large mastabah just to the northeast of the great pyramid. It must have belonged to a member of the royal family, whose name has not yet been discovered. The huge brick retaining walls of the mastabah were found to be honey-combed with intrusive burials dating from the New Empire (about 1500 B.C.) or later. Many of the mummies were buried without coffins, some were wrapped in matting, and a few were in anthropoid coffins of wood. Below the feet of one mummy, a woman, were found the actual leather sandals she had used during her life-time. Jars
and offering dishes are common in the later graves, and from the mummies have come a number of beads and amulets.

Altogether the report gives promise of a most productive season for our first on this very important site of Ancient Egypt.

Cite This Article

"The Egyptian Expedition." Museum Bulletin I, no. 2 (February, 1930): 5-8. Accessed May 30, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/132/


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