Peter Der Manuelian, Harvard University, discusses the most famous archaeological site in the world, the Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. This interview explores new approaches to “cataloging” the site, highlighting efforts at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Harvard University.
The site experienced its first golden age as the burial place of three pharaohs of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (Dynasty 4, ca. 2640 2510 BCE). A second golden age came almost five millennia later, when the first modern excavators applied their newly devised archaeological craft to the Giza Plateau. Now, with the advent of many new technologies in the twenty-first century, the Giza Necropolis is available in two, three, and even four dimensions. Children and specialised scholars alike may study the material culture of this ancient civilisation from afar, often with greater access than could be achieved in person. However, these new approaches do raise questions: Does 3-D modeling and animation truly improve scholarly comprehension and interpretation? Can interacting with animations still be called scholarship? Where is the border between academic knowledge and mere entertainment?