William Pitry

English archaeologist William Pitry (1853-1942) was one of the most colorful figures in the history of Egyptology. It was one of the most outstanding representatives of the English school of Egyptology.

English archaeologist William Pitry (1853-1942) was one of the most colorful figures in the history of Egyptology

William Pitry spent forty-six years in Egypt. About the past of Egypt, he collected as much information as no one had before him.

The secret of Petrie's success was that he was the first researcher in Egypt to choose the tactics of methodical excavation with a careful fixation of all the finds. Today, the authority of the founder of the scientific method of excavation in Egypt firmly established itself.

First goal William Pitry chose the famous pyramids complex in Giza. In 1883, Pitris went to Sakkara and Dashur, where is engaged in the measurement and study of local pyramids. Then his way lay in Fayum, where once settled the capital and necropolis of the kings of the 12th dynasty, who ruled Egypt for a total of 213 years. Somewhere here was a mysterious Labyrinth...

Under the name of the Labyrinth was hidden a giant funeral temple-palace of Amenemhet III. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt, first of all, of course, admired the pyramids. But far above them, he read the Labyrinth. Its name is a huge structure received on the throne name of Pharaoh Amenemhet - Nimaatar, which in the Greek transcription was transmitted as "Labir".

"I saw this Labyrinth: it is beyond any description", Herodotus wrote, "and yet the temples in Ephesus and Samos are very remarkable. Of course, the pyramids are huge structures, and each of them is worth many of the works combined, although and they are also great, but the Labyrinth also surpasses these pyramids".

Greek and Roman travelers report that without a guide in the Labyrinth it was easy to get lost. The Roman geographer Strabo notes that each nom (province) of Egypt had its own temple here, where victims were offered to both the general Egyptian and local gods. Thus, the Labyrinth, which united all the cults of Egypt, was, as it were, a symbol of the religious unity of the country.

Remains of the famous Labyrinth, or more precisely - the underground temple, which was part of the grandiose funeral ensemble of Amenemhet III, William Pitry discovered in the eastern extremity of the Fayum oasis. Archaeological excavations confirmed descriptions of ancient authors. The labyrinth was a low, but very large building with an area of about 70 thousand square m. The structure consisted of 1500 underground and as many land areas decorated with sculptures and reliefs - column halls, courtyards, dungeons and intimidated transitions.

The style of this temple-palace was distinguished by strict monumentality. Its peculiarity was the use of huge stone monoliths. From the large flat monolithic slabs were made overlappings, from the monolithic stone columns were carved - their endless rows played a major role in the design of the labyrinth. Especially noteworthy was the burial chamber, carved from a single block of polished yellow quartzite. Near the temple towered two colossal statues of Amenemhet III of the same yellow shiny quartzite, reaching together with the pedestals of 18 m high. Huge size, majestic statues, underlined solemnity and monumentality - all this indicates that the underground temple of Amenemhet III was the center of the nationwide cult of the pharaoh.

By coincidence, William Pitry discovered not only the funerary temple of Amenemhet the Third. He also discovered the tomb of Pharaoh himself, when in 1889 William Pitry began to explore a huge mountain of rubble, lonely hanging near the village of Hawara, he had no idea what he was going to face. As it turned out, it was a heavily destroyed pyramid, long ago lost limestone facing and for many centuries turned into literally a rubbish. William Pitry long and unsuccessfully tried to find the entrance to it. Not finding the traces of the entrance, he ordered the workers to punch the tunnel directly through the pyramid. It took several weeks, and finally Petrie's perseverance was rewarded: before him opened a manhole into the cell, which he first took for funeral. In fact it was a room above the tomb of the pharaoh. The very same tomb was flooded with musty water. Descending on a rope in a dark, damp tomb, William Pitry discovers with disappointment that she was robbed for a long time: the two sarcophaguses here are hacked and devastated. Next to them stood a precious altar altar of alabaster, which eventually rewarded Pitry for all his efforts.

Digging in a fetid vein, William Pitry drew out the remains of funerary utensils, including a vessel of alabaster, on which the name Amenemhet was inscribed. In the next cell, Pitry found innumerable sacrifices.

The multi-day climbing of the transitions filled with millennial mud and broken rubble allowed Pitry to come to completely exceptional conclusions: in order to "randomly" overcome all this system of false moves, deadlocks, dead ends and cleverly disguised entrances, robbers would take several years! Obviously, one of the priests, guards or officials participated in the robbery, prompting the shortest path to the burial chamber.

With the name of Petry is connected the archaeological study of more than thirty pyramids. Five of them he opened and ascertained their belonging, and in one he discovered a whole treasure. But most importantly - he received information that allowed to explain the technique and organization of the construction of the pyramids.

Pitry was engaged in excavations in Egypt until 1926, not stopping at one thing. He, in his own words, "sifted all of Egypt," while making a trip into the depths of three millennia.

Pitry was the first to conduct systematic excavations in the ancient capital of Egypt, Tanis, located in the delta of the Nile. Here he first began to date the objects found on the basis of what archaeological layer the finds were made of. Among the ruins of Tanis, Pitry discovered the temple of the god Seth. Here, in the delta of the Nile, near the village of El-Nigrushi, he discovered the Greek settlement of Navkratis, dating back to the end of the 7th century BC. The first of the Egyptologists, William Pitry, discovered in Egypt objects related to the Greco-Mycenaean culture, open Schliemann, which confirmed the existence of links between Greece and Egypt in the 15th century BC. His work helped establish a chronological framework for the emergence of the Crete-Mycenaean culture.