Peter Der Manuelian Named Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology

Cambridge, Mass. - May 12, 2010 - Peter Der Manuelian, who leads a project to digitize materials from a complex of tombs, temples, and ancient artifacts surrounding Egypt’s famous Giza pyramids, has been named the Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology at Harvard University, effective July 1, 2010.

Der Manuelian comes to Harvard from the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, where he is director of the Giza Archives Project and the Giza Mastabas Project, and from Tufts University, where he has been a lecturer in Egyptology since 2000. He joins the faculty of Harvard’s departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) and Anthropology.

"Professor Der Manuelian has attained broad mastery of ancient Egypt’s culture, art, history, and language," says Diana Sorensen, dean of arts and humanities in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "He has written on archaeology, art history, political history, literature, and philology, demonstrating a range few Egyptologists can match. His teaching at Tufts, at Harvard, and at the MFA has proven his excellence in engaging students, and he has shown himself to be a brilliant teacher and mentor."

Der Manuelian has led a 10-year effort to digitize extensive materials pertaining to the Old Kingdom Giza Necropolis, a 4,500-year-old array of tombs, temples, and artifacts near Egypt’s famous Giza pyramids. This Giza Archives Project ( has been supported by more than $3 million in grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Items archived to date through this effort include 3,834 tomb and monument records, some 37,000 excavation photographs taken between 1902 and the present, records pertaining to 21,179 ancient object finds, records on approximately 3,795 ancient and modern individuals associated with Giza, 10,000 maps ranging from entire cemeteries to individual burial shafts, and hundreds of scholarly books and articles about Giza, all available for free downloading.

The Giza Archives Project website also includes digitization of about 5,000 pages of previously unpublished documents detailing the early 20th-century expedition seasons led by George A. Reisner, a professor of Egyptology at Harvard from 1910 to 1942, making an important scholarly resource available to scholars and students around the world. Der Manuelian is currently working to add items from museums and institutes around the world.

Der Manuelian’s monographs cover each of the major periods of ancient Egyptian history: Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms. Additionally, each work focuses on a different aspect of Egyptian culture. In his earliest monograph, "Studies in the Reign of Amenophis II" (Gerstenberg Verlag, 1987), he detailed the political history of one Egyptian king’s reign. "Living in the Past: Studies in Archaism of the Egyptian Twenty-Sixth Dynasty" (Kegan Paul International, 1994) investigated the social and textual factors involved in a Late Period dynasty’s (about 600 BC) attempts to recreate a long-past golden age. His most recent work, "Mastabas of Nucleus Cemetery 2100," published in 2009 by the MFA (Giza Mastabas Series, vol. 8), examined the archaeology of a large mortuary complex at Giza. He is also the author of several children’s books on ancient Egypt.

Der Manuelian received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1981 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1990. He has been affiliated with the MFA for most of his career, including as a consultant in the Department of Ancient Egyptian, Near Eastern, and Nubian Art from 1976 to 1984; as curatorial assistant, assistant curator, and research fellow in this same department from 1987 to 1999; as director of the Giza Mastabas Project since 1993; as Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellow in Egyptian Art from 2000 to 2004; and as director of the Giza Archives Project since 2004. From 1984 to 1987 he served as epigrapher for the University of Chicago’s Epigraphi Survey in Luxor, Egypt.

In addition to his teaching at Tufts, he was a Harvard affiliate from 2001 to 2008, serving from 2001 to 2003 as lecturer in Egyptology in NELC and from 2003 to 2008 as a research associate at the Harvard Semitic Museum.

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