News about the Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project and the project team
In 2007, the Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project team moved on to survey the area east of the Step Pyramid. Although little indication was found of the densely-packed tombs revealed further north, the area around the Bubastieion wall yielded interesting results. This had previously been found to contain indications of temple structures dating from the Late Period (c. 750-30 BC), when the area was a focus for the cult of sacred animals.
The 2007 geophysical results show mudbrick structures situated on top of the bluff of the escarpment, overlooking the cultivation. This area has often been identified with ‘the Peak’, a toponym associated with various gods during the Late Period – including Imhotep. Classical authors describe pilgrimages made to honour Imhotep on a hill at Saqqara. Could this be a long-lost temple of the deified architect?
The survey was extended to cover the area south of the Unas causeway in 2009. The most famous structure here is the temple-style tomb of Horemheb – general under Tutankhamun and later pharaoh himself. Further New Kingdom tombs have been excavated in the vicinity by the Egypt Exploration Society, Leiden University and Cairo University. The 2009 geophysical results confirmed what Egyptologists have long suspected – that several more large tombs of similar architecture – and thus similar date – are located nearby.
Radar surveys were also carried out on features previously located by gradiometry. This allows a profile image to be built up of structures already known in plan. Several significant features were revealed, including a possible ramp beneath a rectangular structure.
Future work will complete the geophysical map of Saqqara and extend the use of radar to focus on features of interest.