Historical Overview of the Theban Mapping Project

In 1996 the Theban Mapping Project began to stabilize KV 5 to withstand the weight of the overlying bedrock and flooding. A team of mining, structural and electrical engineers as well as geologists, hydrologists and rock mechanics experts was consulted for advice. These specialists conducted extensive studies of KV 5 and the hillside into which it was dug. Between 1996 and 2001 rock bolts and ceiling supports were installed in KV 5 and the pillars reconstructed and strengthened [10606]. Natural fissures in the hillside above KV 5 were filled to prevent rainwater entering the tomb [10408].     10606 10408
A more intensive phase of photographic survey continuing the Theban Mapping Project's earlier photographic work was undertaken in 1996. Extensive photographic recording was carried out within the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, including KV 5 [16953]. Additional aerial shots were taken from hot-air balloons to supplement earlier work in this area and collection of historical imagery of the Valley and other areas of the West Bank was started.     16953
The Theban Mapping Project began development of archaeological and image databases of pre-Islamic archaeological sites on the West Bank of Luxor. By 1997 the databases were ready and researchers in the Theban Mapping Project's offices in Cairo were entering information about the sites, including their archaeology, history, exploration and conservation. This research and data entry continues today [17816].     17816
In 1997 the Theban Mapping Project's first website was launched, giving access to information about Theban Mapping Project work in the Valley of the Kings and elsewhere on the Theban West Bank [17817]. The information was accompanied by images, QTVR's and other illustrations. The site continued to be regularly updated after its launch with new stories, progress reports on the work of the Theban Mapping Project and foreign-language translations of specific areas of the site.     17817
During 1999 and 2000 survey work on the West Bank continued with the extension of survey lines to the edge of the cultivation in order to take survey readings at approximately two dozen New Kingdom memorial temples, enabling the Theban Mapping Project to locate them and their axes and orientations precisely [14534].     14534
In 2000 the long-awaited publication of the Atlas of the Valley of the Kings, a collection of 72 sheets of maps and tomb plans, based on the Theban Mapping Project surveys of the Valley, was published [17180]. During the same year, a preliminary report on the excavation work in KV 5 appeared [17181]. The report documented the clearance of the tomb and the recording of finds and decoration inside the tomb and also contained specialist reports on its pottery, fauna and geology.     17180 17181
During 2000, the Theban Mapping Project staff designed new interpretative signs about the tombs to replace the existing signs in the Valley of the Kings [16053]. The signs were produced to the Theban Mapping Project's specifications by a Swiss company and contain text, images and plans of the individual tombs. The signs were made with materials and processes that should make them resistant to the elements in the Valley of the Kings for a lifetime. To accompany these English language signs, which were installed in 2001, an Arabic booklet was produced.     16053
Advances in survey technology gave the Theban Mapping Project an opportunity in 2001 to work with Quantapoint, an American company, which was able to use a laser recording system to fully document KV 14. The laser recorded 125,000 laser measurements per second and produced detailed and highly accurate three-dimensional plans and models of KV 14ís interior, including its wall decoration [16709].     16709
With the launch of the Theban Mapping Project's new website in 2002 the information about the Valley of the Kings gathered by the project over many years was made available to scholars and the general public. This new website won many major awards for its content and design.    
In 2003, a second Atlas was launched on the website, Atlas of the Theban Necropolis, consisting of a zoomable aerial photograph of the archaeological zone.    
The archaeological and image databases continue to be updated with new sites and photographs and new plans and maps are being drawn of sites outside the Valley of the Kings. The website will continue to reflect this new work as it is completed.    

Published or last modified on: May 26, 2003
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