"The archaeologist leading an expedition must be as sentive to increase in overhead charges as any factory manager," said Dr. George A. Reisner '89, Professor of Egyptology and Director of the Harvard-Boston Expedition in Egypt recently, explaining the general requirements of an Egyptologist and his work in the field.
"The archaeologist must not only be a scholar and historian," Dr. Reisner went on to explain, "but must be an organizer and administrator with a certain amount of practical business sense. He must, furthermore, give a fair amount of time to the study of efficiency in the work of actual excavation and in the methods of recording his observations.
"At Samaria, the Harvard expedition increased the output of earth removed each day 100 per cent by reducing the size of the baskets by one half and increasing the wages 15 per cent. Other increases in the amount of work accomplished were effected by drawing the railroad line into the immediate proximity of the excavations and by adjusting exactly the number of carriers to the number of pickmen. Great economies were effected by employing extremely efficient native assistants for bookkeeping, photography, and for keeping certain parts of the record, instead of highly paid European or American assistants.
"All the accounts of the Harvard-Boston Expedition are kept in Arabic. A complete detailed diary of all the events which take place during the excavations is also recorded in Arabic by the head foreman, an Egyptian named Said-Ahmed-Said.
Always Expect the Worst
Asked if he expected any more important developments in the Giza region, where the Expedition has just discovered a tomb said to be of the Sixth Dynasty, Dr. Reisner replied, We always expect the worst.
"One of our bitter experiences," continued Dr. Reisner, "was with a tomb of the Sixth Dynasty at Naga-ed-der back in 1902. We had discovered a grave some 4000 years old. One half of it had caved in but the other part was intact. Clearing away the intact end, we found it to be the opening of a long passageway leading down into the hillside. It was filled with clean, chipped limestone and by this and other indications we knew that the tomb had not been opened from the day it had been sealed some 4000 years ago. The passage was cleared out and we entered the door of the burial chamber, deep under the hill, the first men to come there since the last of the burial rites. Everything has remained untouched. The quarter of beef was still hanging on the wall; the urns of drink were still in their places; apparently nothing had been disturbed.
Undertaker's Assistant Thief
"Just as we were about to leave the tomb temporarily, I noticed that the lid of the coffin stood open about six inches propped up by a stone. I became suspicious and looked in at the body. All the gold ornaments and jewels had been stolen. The only explanation is that the last undertaker's assistant to leave the tomb had scooped his hand in just as they were leaving the tomb for the last time. So you see we always expect the worst.
"The archaeologist, when he is fulfilling his highest function, is engaged in historical research and for that purpose needs a wide knowledge not only of the sciences that man has acquired, but of human psychology so that he may understand man as well as things.
"In archaeology there is no branch of knowledge that may be acquired that will not be useful. In the Egyptian field, a knowledge of the ancient languages, Greek and Latin is extremely desirable and Egyptian indispensable. German French, Geology, Botany, Biology, Mathematics, History, Fine Arts, and even Music and Astronomy, I imagine, would be useful. It is not necessary that a man must have a knowledge of the higher branches of these subjects, but he must have enough to recognize the character of the questions which arise and to select the proper research men to be consulted in regard to them.
"I never recommend a man to go into Egyptian archaeology unless he has first, a university education behind him with a good scholarship record, and second, a private income sufficient for a modest living. In the Egyptian field the training requires a great deal of time and a man's material progress is slow. A man has to make his own place by developing some special branch of research in which he excels every one else. The number of expeditions is small and the places are few."