“Grottos”, “Catacombs”, and “Caves”: Data on Giza Rock-Cut Tombs in Works of Early Travelers (12th–18th Centuries)


DOI 10.31696-2020-2-146-159
Publication status published
Affiliation: IOS RAS
senior researcher
Section HISTORICAL Studies AND ARCHАEOLOGY//Ancient Egypt
Pages 146 - 159
Annotation Rock-cut tombs are a distinct type of ancient Egyptian burial structures that became an alternative to mastabas traditional for the Memphite necropolis. The paper deals with the history of the study of Giza rock-cut complexes from the medieval period to Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, traditionally considered to be the beginning of classic Egyptology. Data collected in the paper help form a better understanding of late archaeological contexts studied by the Russian specialists at the eastern escarpment of Giza. To all appearances, first written evidence of exploration of Giza rock-cut tombs comes from the 12th century A.D. Although interested primarily in the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, medieval authors and travelers of the Early Modern period still preserved a fair amount of valuable material on rock-cut complexes of the necropolis, which then became the main source of information for Europeans on private tombs of the Old Kingdom at Giza. At that time, the most visited rock-cut chapels belonged to tombs in the vicinity of the pyramid of Khafre. This was due to the good preservation of rock-cut chapels of the Central field as well as the fact that they were situated on the main route followed by most of the visitors who explored ancient monuments of the Giza plateau (from the pyramid of Khufu to the pyramid of Menkaure, then to the Great Sphinx and back to Cairo). Although rock-cut tombs of the eastern escarpment of Giza were first recorded on a plan of the necropolis as early as 1737, they had long been visited by only a small number of early explorers. The situation significantly changed only with the beginning of regular excavations at Giza when early archaeologists began to set their camps along the eastern escarpment of the plateau looking for direct access to resources and services provided by local villagers.
Received 02.07.2020
Publication date
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