Saqqara Geophysical Survey Project (SGSP)Supported by: Glasgow Museums
Directors: Dr. Campbell Price and Dr. Angela McDonald.
Area: the whole plateau of Saqqara
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The Scottish expedition, then directed by Ian Mathieson and Harry Smith, started in 1990 with a remote sensing programme of the Saqqara plateau. This employs techniques such as electricity resistivity-meter survey, magnometry, ground-penetrating radar, and sonic and thermal reflection, in combination with global positioning satellite equipment (GPS). The team has already mapped the whole of the area to the north and east of the Step Pyramid, plus the full length of the Wadi Abusir (stretching from the former lake of Abusir south to the Gisr el-Mudir). These geophysical maps show numerous hitherto unknown structures, as well as others which were seen during the 19th or early 20th centuries but have again disappeared under drift sand again. Among the latter is the avenue of sphinxes originally leading up to the entrance of the Serapeum. The former include several rows of Late Period temple platforms lining the Serapeum enclosure to the west of the Step Pyramid. Some of these were also excavated by the expedition, and limited sondages at the Gisr el-Mudir have been the first to show the impressive construction of its limestone perimeter walls. Among the most recent discoveries is a large mastaba suspected to date to Dynasty 3: could this be the long-lost tomb of the legendary Imhotep, architect of the Step Pyramid? The project continues on a yearly basis and is supposed to move gradually to the area south of the Step Pyramid, where it would cover the area of the Dutch concession.