Charles F. Nims, Douglas A. Champion, and George R. Hughes of the Epigraphic Survey Checking and Correcting Copies of Text and Reliefs at Medinet Habu

Apr 6, 2021

In the first installment of digitalEPIGRAPHY's brand new series, Survey artist Dominique Navarro takes a deeper look at James Henry Breasted's pioneering work. Breasted, an Egyptologist, archaeologist, and historian, promoted ancient Egypt's proper documentation in his entire life. He led several expeditions to Egypt and the Sudan and copied inscriptions from monuments previously inaccessible or perishing. He compiled a record of every known Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription and published a translation of these in his five-volume work, Ancient Records of Egypt.

In his excellent long-form essay, Dominique thoroughly emphasizes his role in experimenting with the various techniques the early development of photography permitted while searching for the ultimate solution to document ancient Egyptian monuments. The words of his seminary professor best describe his desire: “You have the passion for truth which belongs to the scholar.”

In 1919, through financial aid provided by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Breasted organized the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. This institution became an internationally renowned center for studying ancient cultures in southwest Asia and the Middle East. In 1923-24, he organized the Epigraphic Survey, a world-famous documentation center in Luxor, Egypt. Involving various cutting-edge technologies, such as photography and printing, he created the Chicago House Method, the Survey's signature documentation process, that has been in use with only minimal modifications since.

If you'd like to know more about Breasted's technological experiments and the early years of documenting ancient Egypt, click here to read Dominique's article.

This post was originally released as part of digitalEPIGRAPHY's growing Instagram collection. If you'd like to see our latest photos as soon as we post them, please follow us on Instagram.

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