I am an independent researcher and freelance archaeologist with a non-traditional academic path. Since my first training dig at 17, I have worked in field archaeology in the UK for Cambridge Country Council Archaeological Field Unit in 2004-2005 and Museum of London Archaeology 2007-2010. I brought a field archaeologist’s interest in archaeological context to my 2010-2015 PhD research, combining it with new technological advances in archaeological surveying, satellite remote-sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) in my investigations of ancient Egyptian sites. As Asyut Project Curator at the British Museum 2017-2019, I continued to work on archaeological context in museums and archives, using digital technology and satellite imagery to relocate historic excavations and working practices.

British Roots

Although much of my academic work is associated with ancient Egypt, I began my career as a British field archaeologist. After a B.A. in Egyptian Archaeology at University College London, I excavated on archaeological sites for over 20 years, including periods of employment with the Cambridge County Council Archaeological Field Unit (now Oxford Archaeology East) and Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). As a Senior Archaeologist in the MOLA Assessments Team, I became skilled in geographic information systems (GIS) and I developed, received funding for, and led the English Heritage (now Historic England) administered, Aggregates Levy Sustainability funded Assessment of archaeological resource in aggregate areas on the Isle of Wight. Working as a field archaeologist gave me a strong sense of the importance of archaeological context and the ephemeral nature of the archaeological matrix, and while working for the MOLA Assessments Team I became interested in landscape context. I remain convinced that archaeological and landscape context is crucial to archaeological interpretation and presentation. Contextualising archaeological data and artefacts, often with the aid of new digital and technological methods, remains a strong thread throughout my research.

Egyptian Archaeology

Working on sites in Egypt since 2006, cemented my interest in archaeological surveys, ancient landscapes, and GIS. Following completion of my AHRC-funded M.A. in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, I worked at various sites as an archaeological surveyor, including the University of Liverpool Gurob Harem Palace Project; the Dra Abu el-Naga (South) survey project; the Hatnub Epigraphic Project; and the Gebel el-Asr project. My Masters and Ph.D. research both concentrated on the contextualisation of the Stelae Ridge cairns, through comparative archaeological structures and textual evidence in my Master’s dissertation and within the wider Gebel el-Asr landscape in my Ph.D. thesis.

Using GPS to survey a mudbrick pyramid in 2013 at Dra Abu el-Naga, Luxor.

Technological tools

Appropriate use of technological advancements has always been an important part of my research. During my Ph.D. I used GIS-based visibility analysis to research access to the Stelae Ridge cairns, discovering the difficulties of working with historic excavation data, and the value of satellite imagery in landscape archaeology. After my Ph.D I worked on two multi-spectral satellite remote-sensing projects, locating roads between Bahariya, the Nile valley and the Faiyum oasis, and ancient structures at Tell Nabasha in the Delta. With the development of tablet GIS applications, I saw an opportunity to streamline landscape surveys. As part of my GIS work with the Olynthos Project, I tested tablet GIS applications. I subsequently developed a project to remotely-survey the archaeological landscape around the Hatnub alabaster quarries with high-resolution satellite imagery, ground-truthed using tablet survey in 2017. From 2020-2021 I worked as a freelance GIS specialist in the British Museum’s Circulating Artefacts Project, georeferencing excavation and site plans and identifying the sources of artefacts circulated in the antiquities trade. Over the course of this research, I have found new technologies most useful for combining, contextualising, analysing and presenting archaeological data in ways that spark new ideas and interpretations.

Museum and archive

Museums and archives have always formed part of my research. After volunteering at the Southend-on-sea Pier Museum in my teens, I worked extensively in the Petrie Museum during my B.A. in Archaeology at UCL. During my M.A. in Egyptology, I developed further skills in museum and archival research, including a project covering the Egyptian collection at the Saffron Waldon Museum. As a Senior Archaeologist at Museum of London Archaeology from 2007-2010 I frequently undertook archival and collections research as part of my desk-based assessment and commercial archaeological research. In 2012, I researched and published a group of hawk statues excavated from ancient Egyptian quarries. In 2017 I began working as Asyut Project Curator at the British Museum, as part of the Regional Identities in Middle Egypt, project. My role was to research the Hogarth archive of objects and excavation records brought to the museum in 1907 after excavations on the north-western part of the Gebel Asyut el-Gharbi necropolis. This research necessitated a detailed investigation of the archive and careful analysis of Hogarth’s excavation methods. I wrote an article on the creation of his pottery corpus and am working to locate the tombs he excavated on high-resolution satellite imagery of the site. This project has further revealed the possibilities that new technologies afford us in terms of archival data analysis and presentation. I hope to work further on the integration of digital technology into archaeological research as part of the contextualistion of archaeological sites, artefacts and archives.

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10 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: 5 pieces of advice I wish I’d heard in the first year of my PhD | Archaeology and Egyptology in the 21st century

  2. Eric

    Hi, I use ASTER DEM plus picture overlay using LandSat band 7,6 and 5 to create RGB images for Assioet to the Qattara depression: much more information than what is visible in Google Earth (looks like a realy massive flood). And in other parts of Egypt I use up to 10 scans of the same area to increase the resolution in order to explain the flood. I am now using both for Youtube info video’s.

  3. Pingback: What’s the point of an exhibition? or ‘How to Wellcome change in the museum space’ – Scribe in the House of Life: Hannah Pethen Ph.D.

  4. Pingback: Review of the British Museum’s ‘Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt’ exhibition – Scribe in the House of Life: Hannah Pethen Ph.D.

  5. Pingback: Exhibition Review: ‘Tutankhamun the Boy: Growing up in ancient Egypt’ at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian and Sudanese Archaeology – Scribe in the House of Life: Hannah Pethen Ph.D.

  6. Pingback: Pan-sharpening a composite 3-band 4-3-2 RGB true colour Landsat-8 satellite image of Gebel Asyut el-Gharbi – Scribe in the House of Life: Hannah Pethen Ph.D.

  7. Pingback: Exhibition Review: ‘Golden Mummies of Egypt’ at Manchester Museum – Scribe in the House of Life: Hannah Pethen Ph.D.

  8. Pingback: What sahw you? ‘Mummies’, ‘Mummified people’ or ‘Mummified remains’? – Scribe in the House of Life: Hannah Pethen Ph.D.

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