Abstract: Giza through time and space: the renegotiation of a sacred landscape

Lecturer: Jessica Kaiser

The focus of archaeological investigations on the Giza Plateau has traditionally been on the Old Kingdom (2575-2150 BCE) remains of the royal necropolis. However, recent excavations at the Heit el Ghorab cemetery in the southern part of the plateau has underlined that Giza continued to be a mortuary landscape long after the Old Kingdom ended. Royal presence in Memphis in the New Kingdom triggered an upsurge in building activity around the Sphinx, starting in the reign of Amenhotep I (1426-1400 BCE). With time, the Sphinx itself was reinterpreted as a god in its own right, Horus-in-the-Horizon, linked to the local deities of Isis-Mistress-of-the-Pyramids and Osiris-Lord-of-Rosetau. This religious reinterpretation of older monuments on the plateau made Giza an attractive final resting place once again. By the beginning of the Saite period (664 BCE) Giza had come full circle and was once again used as a necropolis on a larger scale, though not necessarily by the elite. Indeed, the majority of mortuary material from the Saite and later periods is much more modest in nature. At the Heit el Ghorab cemetery, we have excavated more than 400 simple inhumations from the late 25thdynasty/Saite (715-525 BCE) and mid- to late Roman (1st-2ndcentury CE) periods, and a 2005 survey suggests that the later burials at the site number in the thousands. This paper will outline how the renegotiation of the sacred landscape of Giza that started in the New Kingdom contributed to its renewed use as a necropolis during the Saite period and beyond.

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Alexander Mazarakis Ainian is Professor of Classical Archaeology with the University of Thessaly in Greece.  He studied History of Art and Archaology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles... Read More

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