Walking Among Pharaohs by Peter Manuelian

November 15, 2022
Walking Among Pharaohs book cover

The Department of Anthropology celebrates a new faculty publication, Walking Among Pharaohs by Dr. Peter Manuelian. Published by Oxford University Press, Manuelian's newest release spans 1,184 pages and delves into the fascinating life, work, legacy and effects of American Archaeologist George Reisner. Walking Among Pharaohs is the first biography to focus solely on Reisner's impacts and re-evaluates the archaeological field's involvement with nationalism, colonialism, racism, and imperialist projects. 

In this expansive new biography of George Reisner, Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian examines the life and work of America's greatest archaeologist. Manuelian presents Reisner's undeniable impact and considers his life within the context of Western colonialism, racism, and nationalism.

Pyramids with hidden burial chambers. Colossal royal statues and minuscule gold jewelry. Decorated tomb chapels, temples, settlements, fortresses, ceramics, furniture, stone vessels, and hieroglyphic inscriptions everywhere. This is the legacy of forty-three years of breathtakingly successful excavations at twenty-three different archaeological sites in Egypt and Sudan (ancient Nubia). George Reisner (1867-1942) discovered all this and more during a remarkable career that revolutionized archaeological method in both the Old World and the New. Leading the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition, Reisner put American Egyptology on the world stage. His uniquely American success story unfolded despite British control of Egyptian politics, French control of Egyptian antiquities, and an Egypt yearning for independence, all while his Egyptian teams achieved the fieldwork results and mastered the arts of recording and documentation. 

Reisner's lifespan covers the birth of modern archaeology. It also intersects powerfully with aspects of colonialism, racism, and nationalism, as Western powers imposed their influence on Egypt especially during the two World Wars. The wholesale export of dynastic Egypt's treasures to European and American museums also raised issues of repatriation and cultural patrimony long before they became the hot topics they are today. Walking Among Pharaohs, by distinguished Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian, gathers unpublished documents from all over the world to present a fascinating and intimate biography of one of the founding fathers of modern Egyptology and one of America's greatest archaeologists.



About The Author

Peter Der Manuelian is the Barbara Bell Professor of Egyptology at Harvard University and holds a joint appointment in the Anthropology Department and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He came to Harvard in 2010, after a decade at Tufts University. He also served on the curatorial staff of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, since 1987, and held the position of Giza Archives Project Director there from 2000 to 2011. In addition to Giza, his Egyptian archaeological and epigraphic site work includes New Kingdom temples at Luxor (Epigraphic Survey, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago), and the Predynastic site of Naqada.

His primary research interests include ancient Egyptian history, archaeology, epigraphy, the development of mortuary architecture, and the (icono)graphic nature of Egyptian language and culture. He has published on diverse topics and periods in Egyptian history, but currently focuses on the third millennium BC, and specifically on the famous Giza Necropolis, just west of modern Cairo.


Other Resources

Read - Harvard CrimsonPeter Der Manuelian on Ancient Egypt, 3D Technology, and Indiana Jones

Read - Harvard Magazine: George Reisner: Brief Life of a Pioneering Egyptologist: 1867-1942

Read/Watch - The Harvard Gazette: The boy king’s throne

Read/Watch - NPR The World Tutankhamun interview (Nov. 4, 2022)

Read - NEH Humanities Magazine: Finding a Pharaoh

Read - Oxford University Press Blog: Howard Carter and Tutankhamun: a different view

Read - Oxford Comment Podcast (Bob Brier, Peter Der Manuelian)

Listen - Oxford Comment Podcast (Bob Brier, Peter Der Manuelian)