Collections: Ancient Egypt

Phoebe Hearst met George A. Reisner on her first trip to Egypt in early 1899. While the American Egyptologist had no excavating experience at this time, Hearst had faith in his abilities and sent him to work immediately. With several assistants and a large and skilled Egyptian crew, Reisner explored the sites of Coptos and Shurafa (1899–1900), El Ahaiwah (1900), Deir el-Ballas (1900–1), Naga ed-Deir (1901–4), and Giza (1903–5). Much of the work was salvage, following in the wake of looters. Between 1899 and 1905, Reisner collected approximately 17,000 cataloged objects. Including items that he purchased as well as those donated by Phoebe Hearst, these range in time from the Predynastic to Coptic times (over 4,000 years), with about three-quarters coming from the Predynastic and Old Kingdom periods. (In fact, the Predynastic collection is the largest outside of Egypt.) Although some of his finds came from royal or provincial officials, many were found in commoner sites and tombs. Almost all his specimens were impeccably documented in notes, maps, plans, and photographs.


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