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Visit the Digital Giza Project for At-Home Archaeological Adventures!

posted on: Jun 22, 2021

Visit the Digital Giza Project for At-Home Archaeological Adventures!

By: Dani Meyer/Arab America Contributing Writer

With ancient Egyptian artifacts located all around the world, it has become increasingly difficult for scholars to gain access to all the materials they need for research. With this in mind, in 2000, Harvard started the Giza Project: mapping relevant archaeological sites on and around the Giza Plateau. Peter Der Manuelian, who, at the time, was a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, wanted to create a digital record of the Giza Plateau.

What is the Giza Project?

He built off of the work of George Reisner, MFA curator and professor of Egyptology at Harvard, who had led many archaeological expeditions in Egypt, and is one of the prominent founding fathers of modern scientific archaeology. The project has expanded since its start, and now includes the work of other archaeologists at the Giza site. It is now one of the largest comprehensive resources on Giza archaeology. 

The Giza Project contains around 77,000 images, as well as published manuscripts, unpublished accounts of expeditions, dig diaries, object record books, and sketches and drawings made by the archaeologists doing the digging. 

It also includes 3D virtual tours of various tombs and archaeological sites on the Giza Plateau. Since the project includes manuscripts and photos going back to the early 1900s, the researchers were able to create virtual images of what the tombs and artifacts might have looked like at that time, or even when they were first built. Virtually, visitors can walk around the tombs, and even zoom in on certain features to get a closer look. About 20 tombs have been fully modeled in 3D, and the researchers at the Giza Project plan on modeling hundreds more. 

Visit the Digital Giza Project for At-Home Archaeological Adventures!

How is the mapping done?

Researchers have used the work of George Reisner, including unpublished accounts, as well as writings and photographs from various archeological digs and tourists in the area to provide 3D renderings of the areas. They also have used traces of paint to be able to provide renderings of what the sites may have looked like at the time they were built.

“My hope is eventually to fly drones over the site, documenting everything from the air,” Manuelian said. “And complementing that with walks up and down the ‘streets’ [between rows of tombs] creating 360-degree panoramic visualizations, all linked to the more-traditional archaeological data that we have already assembled.”

What is available so far?

The Digital Giza Project is a large step forward in making these sites and information about them accessible to the public. With the Giza Project, researchers no longer have to travel to multiple sites, which can be a financial burden. Researchers, and ordinary people who are interested in ancient Egypt, can virtually tour tombs and other archaeological sites, without ever having to step foot out of their own homes. Of course, seeing something virtually may not ever compare to the real thing, but the Digital Giza Project makes the information readily accessible. 

Available so far to view online is the Khafre Pyramid and its Temple, the Sphinx, and the Sphinx Temple, as well as numerous photos and publications about archaeology and the ancient Egyptians. There are also virtual tours (in the form of videos) about these archaeological sites!

The Tomb of Queen Meresankh III

Visit the Digital Giza Project for At-Home Archaeological Adventures!

The Digital Giza Project has also mapped the tomb of Queen Meresankh III, the granddaughter of King Khufu. They have published a detailed virtual tour (almost like Google Maps) of her tomb. With just a few clicks, and from the comfort of your own home, you can walk around this ancient tomb here.

So while we can’t travel and are all stuck at home, the Digital Giza Project is a great way to learn more about Ancient Egypt and virtually travel!


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