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The Phoebe A. Hearst Expedition to Naga ed-Deir, Cemeteries N 2000 and N 2500

Artifacts attributed to the cemeteries' excavation under George Reisner and Arthur C. Mace

Project Abstract

Banner Credit: Photo by Ayman Damarany

This dataset contains artifacts in the collections of The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, attributed to excavations conducted at Naga ed-Deir, Egypt, between 1901 and 1905. Data are grouped in the following categories:

All data were assigned to these cemeteries by museum staff, presumably based on notes by Reisner, Mace, or others who worked on those excavations. The potential for error in attributing the objects to those cemeteries is possible because of the large amount of material that Reisner was shipping to the US from Egypt and the long span of time between when the artifacts were found and now. In the intervening years, the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco exacted a toll on the artifacts, some of which were broken and subsequently restored, the location of the Hearst Museum was moved from San Francisco to Berkeley, and the museum’s storage was packed up and moved several times for different reasons.

Confirmation of some objects’ placement in tombs could be ascertained by notes and drawings made by Mace on site and/or by site photographs taken by the excavation team. Other objects’ find spots could not be confirmed in the original excavation notes. Seven objects were attributed to tomb numbers that did not exist in the excavation records. In addition, many objects, notably the Coptic garments, described by Mace as having been found in the tombs are not in the collections of these two museums. They are presumably currently housed in Egypt.

The dataset is described and depicted in The Phoebe A. Hearst Expedition to Naga ed-Deir, Cemeteries N 2000 and N 2500, published by Brill in 2020 (print version available for purchase and PDF version available open access).

About the Naga ed-Deir Excavations

The village of Naga ed-Deir is located on the east bank of the Nile opposite Girga in Upper Egypt and some 160 km north of Luxor. Here is located an important series of cemeteries representing a long period of time principally from the Predynastic Period to the Middle Kingdom. Sheikh Farag is located on the north and Mesheikh six kilometers to the south with Naga ed-Deir itself located about one and a half kilometers south of Sheikh Farag. Mesheikh is separated from Naga ed-Deir by the site of Mesaeed. The subdivisions of the site all form part of a single, large cemetery which served as a necropolis for the ancient town of Thinis, whether at Girga or nearby. Thinis served as the ancient capital of Upper Egypt nome 8, while Abydos was a secondary seat of the central government and, by the Middle Kingdom, an important religious center of the god Osiris. Reisner designated all these subdivisions as the “Cemeteries of Naga ed-Deir” or simply “Naga ed-Deir.”

The zone that George Reisner and his team excavated at Naga ed-Deir lies north of the modern village of Naga ed-Deir and south of the tomb of Sheikh Farag. Between these two areas are limestone cliffs that abut the cultivated plain. Three deep wadis cut into the cliffs in an east-west direction, running from the plain into the towering folds of the rock. Rock-cut tombs are found in the cliff faces, and shaft graves and the remains of mastabas are located in soil accumulations at the bases of the wadis.

In the first volume of the Naga ed-Deir series, Reisner described Cemetery N 2000 in this way, “This cemetery of the sixth to eighth dynasties extends up the sides of the second ravine and over the low alluvial mound on the north side of the mouth of the ravine. The top of the alluvial mound contains pit tombs of the sixth and seventh dynasties and, mixed with these, a great number of narrow Coptic graves. The side of the mound along the ravine is lined with chambered tombs of the tenth to eleventh dynasties, cut in the hard gravel” (Reisner 1908, 1). In his draft manuscript published here, Mace places N 2000 “on a bluff just north of the second ravine. It is bounded on the west by the road along the edge of the cultivation, on the south and southeast by the old watercourse, while to the north it merges gradually into the steep slopes of Cemetery 3500” (The Early Dynastic Cemeteries of Naga ed-Dêr, Part I, page 1).

Descriptive Attribute Value(s)
Vocabulary: DCMI Metadata Terms (Dublin Core Terms)
Vanessa Davies info
Vocabulary: The Phoebe A. Hearst Expedition to Naga ed-Deir, Cemeteries N 2000 and N 2500
Vocabulary: DCMI Metadata Terms (Dublin Core Terms)
Temporal Coverage
Vocabulary: DCMI Metadata Terms (Dublin Core Terms)
Spatial Coverage
Vocabulary: DCMI Metadata Terms (Dublin Core Terms)
Suggested Citation

Vanessa Davies. (2020) "The Phoebe A. Hearst Expedition to Naga ed-Deir, Cemeteries N 2000 and N 2500". Released: 2020-12-04. Open Context. <> DOI: ARK (Archive):

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