DFN: I think this is the first of a series of articles on the Eygptians.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
A history of archaeology and excavation at Saqqara
Heritage Key (Jonathan Yeomans)
The cemetery at Saqqara is one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt. Over six kilometres long, it boasts thousands of underground burial sites, as well as the six-step Djoser pyramid – Egypt’s oldest pyramid.
The ruins at Saqqara have long attracted the interest of explorers, grave-robbers and local people. Travellers first reported evidence of antiquities at Saqqara in the 16th century. The Djoser Pyramid and the smaller pyramids around it were hard to miss – but the size of the necropolis only became apparent with the advent of excavations in the 19th century.
It was not until Napoleon marched into Egypt in 1798 with his conquering forces that a scientific study of the area began. One of Napoleon’s aims in ‘liberating’ Egypt was to bring modern, scientific enquiry to the study of its monuments.
The general established the Institut de l’Égypte and despatched hundreds of scientists to document Egypt’s antiquities in depth. The resulting publication, the Description of Egypt, was a lavishly produced catalogue of Ancient Egyptian sites – including Saqqara.