History of the Archaeological Study of the New Kingdom Harem, Town and Cemeteries at Gurob

The site was first excavated by Petrie, but by his standards the work was rather unsatisfactory. During the first season (1888-9) he was simultaneously working at the sites of Hawara and Kahun, and therefore evidently devoting only a limited amount of attention to Gurob.[1] During the second season the work was supervised not by Petrie but by the inexperienced volunteer Hughes-Hughes, therefore the excavation strategy and subsequent publication are still relatively unclear, omitting any published plan of the town itself.[2] In these two seasons, Petrie and his assistants excavated part of the New Kingdom town, including a large building that he identified as a temple, and cemeteries dating to the New Kingdom and the Ptolemaic period (332-30 BC). The subsequent work of Currelly and Loat[3] and of Brunton and Engelbach[4] concentrated primarily on the temple and cemeteries, although Loat briefly mentions the remains of a small 18th-dynasty village that may have constituted an early New Kingdom settlement[5] (perhaps like Lacovara's 'South Hill' settlement at Deir el-Ballas).[6]

In 1905 the town was investigated briefly by the German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, who suggested that the main enclosure-wall, contained not a temple - as Petrie had suggested - but a late 18th-Dynasty palace and harem as well as the town itself.[7] In 1978 Barry Kemp[8] synthesized the results of the various excavations to construct an impression of the New Kingdom harem-town which might have superseded the earlier village, but was itself eventually transformed into a small Ramessid town (see Fig.1). A stratigraphic section drawing was made by Peter Lacovara[9] in the southern part of the site (on a one-day visit in 1984, shortly after the site had ceased to be a military area). Lacovara argued that this section appeared to confirm that there were two distinct phases of settlement at Gurob: early/mid-18th Dynasty and Ramessid.

[1] See Petrie, 1890 and Thomas, 1981.

[2] Petrie, 1891.

[3] Loat, 1905.

[4] Brunton and Engelbach, 1927.

[5] Loat, 1904: 1.

[6] Lacovara, 1997a: 86.

[7] Borchardt, 1911; Wildung, 2001.

[8] Kemp, 1978: 122-33.

[9] Lacovara, 1997b: 297, 301, Fig.3.