Harem History

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the results of the various excavations to construct an impression of the New Kingdom harem-town which might have superseded the earlier village, but was itself eventually transformed into a small Ramessid town (see Fig.1).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.