Wonderful Web: the Theban mapping project

Tomb by tomb, pharoah by pharoah the Theban mapping project is an online guide to the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and a little known tomb called KV5…

Initially conceived and built by egyptologist Kent Weeks, the Theban Mapping project website is a fast-growing portal of information on New Kingdom Egyptology – that’s the period including the Ramesean kings and the ever popular Tutankhamun (whose possible mother/aunt Nefertiti is pictured).

‘Since its inception in 1978, the Theban Mapping Project (TMP, now based at the American University in Cairo) has been working to prepare a comprehensive archaeological database of Thebes. With its thousands of tombs and temples, Thebes is one of the world’s most important archaeological zones. Sadly, however, it has not fared well over the years. Treasure-hunters and curio-seekers plundered it in the past; pollution, rising ground water, and mass-tourism threaten it in the present. Even early archaeologists destroyed valuable information in their search for museum-quality pieces.’

Using flash animations and simple web-publishing tools, the Theban Mapping project is an exemplar in how to use the web as an educational tool for history and archaeology. Interactive maps, tomb by tomb information files, progress reports on excavations, links to external resources and suggested reading lists make this a one-stop shop for anyone looking for a decent introduction to Egyptology and Archaeology as a whole.
The most intriguing of all aspects of Weeks’ reserach is the study of KV5, the tomb which Weeks re-discovered in the Valley of the KIngs in 1987. Excavation is on-going and may run for decades. This is the last resting place of the sons of Rameses II, a massive, sprawling tomb containing something in the region of 110 plus rooms – the majority of which have yet to be excavated.
Beautifully designed, cleverly illustrated and easy to use, the Theban Mapping project website is a rarity – a website on archaeology that doesn’t look like it was designed by a group of 13-year olds and doesn’t patronise and bore it’s audience to death. Now why can’t the archaeology departments of major universities and museums make websites like this?
Find out more:
The Theban Mapping Project
Read more:
The Lost Tomb by Kent Weeks (a highly recommended book)

Damien DeBarra was born in the late 20th century and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He now lives in London, England where he shares a house with four laptops, three bikes and a large collection of chairs.