June 14

Today’s birthday anniversary- Edouard Naville.

Born Henri Edouard in Geneva Switzerland in 1844, he is one of the better known “egyptologists” of the great age of excavation in the late 1800’s. Professor Naville was long associated with the British Egypt Exploration Society, and both excavated and published under their auspices.

Naville is perhaps best known for his work on the temple of the great female ‘ruler’ Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri (1893-96). Nefertiti may be the best known female find, but I’ve always thought Hatshepsut more interesting.

If you are interested in reading Naville as a primary document, the Open Library project has many of his titles available, and they are all very accessible as he was a competent and interesting author.

Naville was a noted philologist and a primary contributor to the famous “Book of the Dead” which detailed the ancient funeral practices that left us the pyramids and other archaeological sites in Egypt. Scholars at the time were focussed on the discoveries. This was the dawn of the scientific detail age and Naville has been criticized for not providing detail, not keeping accurate excavation detail and not preserving finds “in situ”. Although my favorite fictional archeologist, Radcliffe Emerson criticised Naville, he left us with a wealth of journal histories and a collection of artwork both of the people and the ancient hieroglyphic symbols uncovered in the ancient sites. Interested in Egyptology (?), he’s a great place to start!

 Image from the temple.