“How do I . . . ?”

April 27, 2009

Database engines are are curious beasts. Even the best of them doesn’t always return results the way you’d expect. And sometimes it’s hard to know just how much information is actually available, “hidden” behind a Web site’s homepage.

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The new "how to" videos page is full of searching tips, tutorials, and general demos about the Giza Archives

To help make the Giza Archives easier to navigate, and to highlight some of the more exciting bells and whistles lurking on these pages, we are pleased to offer a series of short videos on how to search for the many types of photos, documents, and other items on http://www.gizapyramids.org. Available from the “Search the Archives” menu (choose “How to Use this Web Site“), these videos should show you how to get to where you’re trying to go. Let us know what you think!

End of Spring Semester

April 26, 2009

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Some of the spring semester 2009 crew at the Giza Archives offices, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

As the trees and flowers bloom in Boston after a long winter, the ritual of winding down the teaching semester begins. What does this mean for work at the Giza Archives? Many of the dedicated undergraduate and graduate student helpers will soon be departing for other cities, archaeological digs, or other summer work. Each year we try to focus Tufts University Giza seminar students on a major archiving goal. A few semesters ago, it was scanning all 4,000 pages of Arabic Expedition Diary books recently discovered in Cairo. This spring the crew expanded the Giza Digital Library, proofing, reading, and linking scholarly books and articles to the appropriate tombs, objects, photos, and people in the database. The fruits of their labors are available on our main Giza Library page.

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More than 450 people have contributed their time and expertise to the Giza Archives work since we began many years ago.

I would like to thank this year’s crop of talented students for their hard work on making so many aspects of Giza scholarship available to the world community. As these students disappear for the summer months, we are extremely fortunate to fill their places with our summer staff. During May through August, we’ll continue to process 5,000 line drawings of Giza tomb wall scenes and inscriptions, thousands of pages of “Packing lists” detailing the shipping arrangements of excavated objects to Cairo and to Boston, and we’ll expand our Visual Search pages with hundreds of additional 360-degree interactive panoramas. Translations of the Arabic Expedition Diaries, prepared by Dr. Ramadan Hussein, newly appointed Director of the Documentation Centre of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, are also continuing. 3D modeling of the Giza tombs and experiments with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are also in the works.

Click "Complete Archive Summary" to see the current totals on the Giza Web site.Click “Complete Archive Summary” to see the current totals on the Giza Web site.

Ever wonder just how much “stuff” there is to see on the Giza Archives Web site? Just go to “Search the Archives” and choose “Complete Archive Summary.”  Currently there are eight categories of items, and you’ll see a one-page summary of all the hundreds of thousands of items: tombs, photos, objects, people, expedition diaries, plans & drawings, published and unpublished works. You can browse, enlarge and download just about everything!

The totals are always changing.

The totals are always changing.

Since our formal launch in January 2005, the Giza Web Site has undergone several enhancements and makeovers. But today we launch an entirely new homepage and organization, while preserving and expanding on all the search capabilities users have come to know.

Screenshot of the Giza Archives homepage (www.gizapyramids.org). Click the refresh button to see a different background photo each time. There's a lot of them!

Screenshot of the new Giza Archives homepage (www.gizapyramids.org). Click the refresh button to see a different background photo each time. There's a lot of them!

Everything is now housed under five main buttons. Hundreds of text-searchable Giza publications, available for free download, are in the “Giza Library.” All kinds of searches are now listed under “Search the Archives.” Save and share your own research and collections in “My Giza Research.” The “News” section will keep you updated; in fact, that’s where this Director’s Blog is housed. And finally, “Contact” provides several methods for sending us feedback, learning about copyright issue, joining our subscriber list for news and announcements, and supporting the Giza Archives with donations towards our Mellon Foundation Endowment Challenge grant. And for quick searching across all database fields, there is always the faithful Search box handy.

Some quick tips: under “Search the Archives,”  try “Search Giza from Above” for new ways to visit the Pyramids without buying a plane ticket. To see the total numbers and types of documents at any time, choose “Complete Archive Summary.”

Soon we plan to add a number of short “How to…” videos on our “How to Use this Web Site” page (located under “Search the Archives”). These will make it easier to find what you’re looking for, as well as provide some educational videos about Giza, its history and significance (to be located under “My Giza Research,” on the “Ancient Egypt Educator Resources” page). Whether you’re an armchair archaeologist or professional Egyptologist, our goal is to make the art and archaeology of the Giza Necropolis as accessible as possible.

And as always, we need and look forward to feedback from you!

Peter Der Manuelian

The Giza Pyramids no doubt held great symbolic significance for ancient Egyptians of all periods. And now these ancient wonders continue to serve as a ceremonial backdrop for events and ideas of all types. 

Participants take part in a human chain around the Great Pyramidof Khufu. More than 1500 students, teachers and parents from 50 nationalities formed a circle that symbolized peace in the world. (Photo: Nasser Nasser, AP)

Participants take part in a human chain around the Great Pyramidof Khufu. More than 1500 students, teachers and parents from 50 nationalities formed a circle that symbolized peace in the world. (Photo: Nasser Nasser, AP)

Whether it is the international symbol of community pictured here, a performance of the opera “Aida,” an international squash tournament, the Pharaoh’s race car rally, or a protest using garbage in new and creative ways (see below), it seems the Pyramids as “stage setting” always helps to carry the message farther throughout the world.

An army of "trash people" in front of the Pyramids; an installation by artist HA Schult (May 15, 2002).

An army of "trash people" in front of the Pyramids; an installation by artist HA Schult (May 15, 2002).

Peter Der Manuelian