15.11.2005 J. Krejčí
The archaeological exploration of the Czech Institute of Egyptology at Abusir has been for almost 40 years concentrating on the Abusir pyramid field, located 20 km to the southwest of Cairo. Abusir is one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt. It contains two types of monuments: tombs of kings, queens and private individuals coming from the time of the 5th dynasty (Old Kingdom), and tomb from the Saite-Persian period. The institute has devoted its long-term interest to the investigation of both groups of monuments, with which the basic research projects of the institute are also connected.
The works of the Czech Institute of Egyptology at the site have begun with the archaeological exploration of the mastaba of Ptahshepses. In the year when the institute acquired the new concession, 1976, the archaeological exploration of the pyramid complex of Queen Khentkaus II and of the Eastern mastaba field – the cemetery of the members of the royal family of the 5th Dynasty - was launched. Since 1978, the works concentrated above all on the pyramid complex of Queen Khentkaus II and the funerary complex of king Neferre. In connection with these projects, the at that time (the turn of the 1970s and the 1980s) unusual use of geophysical methods for the investigation of the site should mentioned. The institute was the first to use these methods at the pyramid fields. In the year 1980, the main exploration tasks of the institute include also the shaft tombs from the Saite-Persian period, the group of which is located nearby, to the southwest of the royal pyramid necropolis of the Old Kingdom. Another turning point in the history of the fieldwork of the institute is the year 1991, when the institute began to work in the cemetery of Old Kingdom officials of lower and middle rank at South Abusir.
The Abusir concession, which is probably the most extensive archaeological concession of a foreign expedition in Egypt, allows to undertake archaeological works of the highest degree – “excavations”. (According to the nomenclature of the SCA – NRPE – the lower degrees are “survey” and “cleaning”).
The successful functioning of the archaeological expeditions would not be possible without the help of the foremen family el-Kereti, with whom the institute has been cooperating since 1962. The field experience of this family, their warm feelings towards to the institute and the natural respect they enjoy in their environment are undoubtedly the guarantee of further success of the Czech Institute of Egyptology in the field of Egyptian archaeology.