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The Archeological Survey

In 1890 the Fund, under the inspiration of Griffith, launched an ‘archaeological survey’. Griffith’s original intention was for a survey of the whole of Egypt, identifying new sites and describing the state of those which were already known, including recording their standing monuments. This praiseworthy but ambitious plan was soon modified, and the first expedition of the Archaeological Survey, directed by Percy Newberry, concentrated on recording the tombs at Beni Hassan and el-Bersheh.

On the left is Griffith's revised map of the Archaeological Survey of Egypt showing the area to be covered in Middle Egypt by Newberry and his team of artists and surveyors. This team included Marcus Blackden and a young (16 year old) Howard Carter. Both artists were tasked with recording the painted decoration in the rock tombs in watercolour. The Society's archive now contains some of these watercolours (such as the 'Cat in the marshes' scene shown above), and others can be found in the archives of the Griffith Institute, Oxford. These paintings are now invaluable archaeological records.

In 1898 the Fund was fortunate to obtain the services of Norman de Garis Davies, a skilled draughtsman whose work greatly improved on the accuracy of the Survey’s earliest work. After completing work for the publication of the tombs at Sheikh Said and Deir el-Gebrawi, Davies moved to the site of Tell el-Amarna, to record the tombs and boundary stelae. Davies left the Fund in 1907 and he and his equally gifted wife Nina continued their work at Thebes for the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The new Field Director for the Survey was Aylward Blackman who continued the tradition by recording the tombs at the middle Egyptian site of Meir, footage of which can be seen below. 

In 1955 the Society acquired the services of Ricardo  A Caminos who, with Harry James, recorded the shrines at Gebel es-Silsila, and then moved on alone to record the temples of Nubia as part of the Society’s contribution to the UNESCO Nubian campaign. In the 1970s Vivian Davies, Alan Lloyd and Jeffrey Spencer copied, for the Survey, some Old Kingdom tombs at Saqqara. 

The video above shows the Society's work recording the tombs at Meir in 1950. The expedition director, Prof Aylward Blackman can be seen as well as the Michael Apted, the person responsible for taking the moving footage. This footage and related materials can all now be found in the Society's archive.


The Delta and Deir el-Bahari Tell el-Amarna
The Archaeological Survey Nubia
The Graeco-Roman Branch Saqqara and Memphis
Abydos and Armant Further information

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