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Friday, May 18, 2012

Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier

For many of us Egyptology enthusiasts we are often intrigued by the normalcies of architecture and pharaohs, and by normal I mean the most widely talked about subjects which make us love everything about ancient Egypt. However, there is life outside of Howard Carter and Zahi Hawass, even though we all have so much respect for both of these gentlemen. My knowledge of Egypt was very watered down prior to my Life and Death in Ancient Egypt class this past semester. I certainly have gained a mush greater respect for those men we rarely speak of, Gustave Jéquier being one of them.

Gustave Jéquier was born in 1868 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Jéquier began his career as an Egyptologist under the direction of Gaston Maspero and Jacques de Morgan. His primary focus was on the Predynastic Period, which runs from the earliest human occupation of Egypt to the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt, starting with King Menes. Egyptian and temple architecture captivated Jéquier, therefore he focused his attention on the Old and Middle Kingdom pyramids. He later published several books on temple architecture.

Gustave Jéquier participated in major excavations sponsored by the Supreme Council of Antiquities including southern cemeteries of Saqqara, Aba, Dahshur, Lisht, and Mazghuna. In 1901, he joined Jacques de Morgan's Susa expedition, which led to the discovery of the famous Code of Hammurabi. Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylonia and he created 282 laws to regulate people’s actions and relationships including work, marriage, crime, land ownership, and sex. One of his most recognizable scaled punishments was "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", which of course depended upon social status. In 1928, consequently, he discovered the Mastabat Faraoun of Shepseskaf.

Gustave Jéquier worked on the Pyramid Texts, which are dated to the Old Kingdom and believed to be the oldest evidence of religious works in the world. His work with the Texts provided scholars with a better understanding of religion at that time. Gustave Jéquier was also the first Egyptologist to excavate the pyramid complex of Pepi II between 1926 and 1936. Pepi II was pharaoh of the Sixth dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom. Jéquier was also the first excavator who found remains from the tomb reliefs, and the first to publish a thorough excavation report on the complex.

Additionally, Jéquier found several food cases within the enclosure wall of Queen Oudjebten’s pyramid complex at South Saqqara, which he dated to the last third reign of Pepi II. This means the food cases were dated to the last year they were used.

Gustave Jéquier died in 1946, but not without leaving an incurable legacy of discoveries.


© Une mission en Perse, Paris 1997 p. 128.


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