The modern exploration of Abydos has a long and storied history stretching back to the middle of the nineteenth century, when French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette first began excavating here. Since then, a great many archaeologists and Egyptologists from Egypt and around the world — names like Flinders & Hilda Petrie, Gertrude Caton-Thompson, Labib Habachi, Gaston Maspero, John Garstang, and T. Eric Peet — have contributed to our knowledge of this most sacred of ancient Egyptian landscapes. Our excavations today are a continuation of those begun in the 1960s by Profs. David O’Connor and William Kelly Simpson, on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. The Penn-Yale Expedition organized its first field season in 1967, which was in many ways the end of an historical era of archaeology in Egypt — one long centered on the acquisition of museum objects — and the beginning of a new era of fieldwork at Abydos, driven solely by the aims of research and heritage preservation. Today, we are privileged to carry this legacy into a new era of community engagement in the archaeology of Abydos. Over the years, the excavations at North Abydos have focused on many different areas of the site, from the ancient town and its Temple of Osiris to the vast and intricate cemeteries that blanket the low desert beyond, and most importantly in recent years, the great royal monuments of Egypt’s earliest kings — archaeological remains that take us back to the dawn of recorded history. Excavation is at the heart of all archaeology — it is how we see into the past — but any excavation is only as good as the body of knowledge and understanding it supports through documentation, conservation, outreach, and publication.
Text and images © Abydos Archaeology 2019