Kemet Klub

Mapping a sacred landscape. The Theban Mapping Project from Survey to Screen

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Walton Chan, Bianca Van Sittert and Briana Jackson from The Theban Mapping Project
Saturday 29th July 2-5pm

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Mapping a Sacred Landscape. The Theban Mapping Project from Survey to Screen

Saturday 29th July
Times: 2-5pm (UK Times) to join live.


We love to see you for the live lectures, but if you have to miss one, don't worry, you can of course catch up (or watch again) at your leisure via the recordings. You will have access to the recorded lectures for a whole month after the last live lecture. Recordings will be available until 29th August.

The numerous monuments of Luxor, ancient Waset, make up a huge area that is often refered to as the worlds largest open air museum.  The work of the Theban Mapping Project is crucial to our understanding of how these monuments relate to each other, an immense project that is still onging.  We will spend the afternoon with TMP team members who are involved in this immense project. We will spend the afternoon with Walton Chan who worked in the field as part of Dr Kent Weeks’ team to survey and map the monuments, and Briana and Bianca, Egyptologists who have worked on interpretating the data and making it accessible as a valuable online resource.

Lecture 1: A brief history of the Theban Mapping Project

The Berkeley Theban Mapping Project was founded by Dr. Kent Weeks in 1978 at the University of California, Berkeley. Its goal was to establish a framework for mapping the ancient monuments of Thebes, as a basis for conservation and future exploration. It produced the first comprehensive surveys of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and the Western Wadis, and pioneered aerial photography from hot air balloons in Luxor. In 1985 the project moved to the American University in Cairo, and in 1989, ahead of plans by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization to widen the access road into the Valley of the Kings, rediscovered the location of tomb KV 5- a tomb that had been “lost” under debris from other excavations. Thought to be small and of minor significance to the first archaeologists who crawled inside (including Howard Carter), it was revealed in 1995 to be the largest tomb in the Valley, with over a hundred rooms. The global interest generated by this discovery raised funds that enabled the TMP to publish its work, digitally drawing and modelling the tombs it had surveyed to produce the Atlas of the Valley of the Kings, and creating the first of now three iterations of its award-winning website.

Lecture 2: Digitizing the Theban West Bank – the Theban Mapping Project website

After crashing in 2010, the popular website, thebanmappingproject.com (TMP.com), was brought back online in 2020 by the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE). The main mission of the website is to serve as an exhaustive and educational resource for scholars and the public on the ancient sites and monuments of the Theban West Bank. The Valley of the Kings was the first database to be debuted on TMP.com and provides users with unprecedented access to the site’s 65 known tombs through interactive aerial maps and axonometric tomb plans, photographic galleries, site, exploration, and conservation histories, as well as resources such as bibliographies, a glossary, an Egyptian timeline, and articles on major and minor Egyptological and archaeological themes. In 2023, the first ever online database on the Valley of the Queens and the Western Wadis was launched on TMP.com, showcasing over 120 generally unknown tombs. In this lecture, we will present the processes behind digitizing and publicly presenting these ancient sites on TMP.com.

Walton Chan, Bianca Van Stittert & Briana Jackson

Walton Chan is an architect based in Toronto, Canada. He joined the Theban Mapping Project as architect, surveyor and designer in 1996. After leaving Cairo in 2000, he has continued to consult for the TMP, contributing to its digital publications. 

Bianca Van Sittert is an Egyptologist from Cape Town, South Africa. She received her BA and Hons degrees in Ancient Cultures from the University of Stellenbosch, and her MA degree in Egyptology and Coptology from the American University in Cairo. She specialises in philology and ancient Egyptian religion, as well as digital epigraphy. She has worked on a number of projects in Egypt including digitizing the reliefs in the tomb of Harwa (TT37), the Wadi el-Hudi expedition and the Colossi of Memnon and Amenhotep III Temple conservation project. As ARCE’s coordinator for the TMP, Bianca is currently managing, planning and developing content for the TMP website and establishing a digital ARCE archive for TMP material.

Briana Jackson holds a PhD in Egyptian art and archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Currently Briana is a Digital Humanities postdoctoral research fellow at the American research Center in Egypt and is also working with the TMP.  She teaches ancient Egypt, Roman history and art history and has worked for the  IFA-NYU North Abydos Expedition on artifact processing, archiving, and surface collection.  Her current  research, which she aims to publish as a book, examines the spread of Atenism throughout Egypt and Sudan. Briana is also working for the NYU Ramesses II Temple in Abydos Project, helping with publications and website building.    

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