Donald P. Ryan

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Donald P. Ryan (born 1957) is an American archaeologist, Egyptologist, writer and a member of the Division of Humanities at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His areas of research interest include Egyptian archaeology, Polynesian archaeology, the history of archaeology, the history of exploration, ancient languages and scripts and experimental archaeology. He is best known for his research in Egypt including excavations in the Valley of the Kings where he investigated the long-neglected undecorated tombs in the royal cemetery. His work there resulted in the rediscovery of the lost and controversial tomb KV60, the re-opening of the long-buried KV21 with its two female and likely royal occupants, and tombs KV27, KV28, KV44, KV 45 and KV 48.[1]

The mummy found within KV60 was identified as that of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut by Zahi Hawass and his Egyptian team in 2007.[2]

Between 1995 and 2002, Ryan worked closely with the Norwegian explorer, archaeologist and writer Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002). Among their many projects, the two directed excavations at the site of the Pyramids of Guimar on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.[3] Ryan has been entrusted with continuing some of the research aspects of Heyerdahl’s legacy.[4]

Other research by Ryan includes investigations of ancient Egyptian cordage and other technologies,[5] biographical studies of early archaeologists such as Giovanni Belzoni,[6] studies of the influence of antiquity on culture and the arts,[7] and the documentation of petroglyphs on the island of Hawaii.

As a writer and researcher, Ryan is the author of numerous scientific and popular articles on archaeological subjects. His books include volumes in the popular Complete Idiot’s Guide Series (Lost Civilizations, Biblical Mysteries, Ancient Egypt and World of the Bible), A Shattered Visage Lies…Nineteenth Century Poetry Inspired By Ancient Egypt,[8] Ancient Egypt on Five Deben a Day,[9] Ancient Egypt: The Basics,[10] Ancient Egypt in Verse,[11] and a memoir, Beneath the Sands of Egypt.[12] He was a major contributor to "Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki in New Light"[13] and wrote the introduction to the new Norwegian edition of Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki".[14] His television credits include "The Face of Tutankhamun" (BBC-Television/A&E),[15] "Biography: Howard Carter" (A&E), "Great Builders of Egypt" (A&E), "Missing Mummies" (Learning Channel), "Ancient Mysteries of the World: Easter Island" (PAX Network), and "Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen" (Discovery Channel).

Ryan is a Fellow of The Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society, a founding member of the Scientific Committee of the Foundation for Exploration and Research on Cultural Origins, a mountaineering instructor, long-distance runner, and pianist.


  1. ^ Work in these tombs is described in the following by Donald P. Ryan: 1990, "Who is buried in KV 60?" KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt 1(1):34-39, 58-59, 63; 1991, "Return to Wadi Biban el Moluk: The Second Field Season of the Valley of the Kings Project." KMT 2(1):26-31; 1992, "The Valley Again." KMT 3(1):44-47, 69; 1992, "Some observations concerning uninscribed tombs in the Valley of the Kings." In, After Tutankhamun. ed. by C.N. Reeves. Kegan Paul, pp.21-27; 1995, "Further observations concerning the Valley of the Kings." In, Valley of the Sun Kings: New Explorations in the Tombs of the Pharaohs. ed. by R. Wilkinson, U. of Arizona Press, pp.134-156; 1995, "Tentative tomb protection priorities, Valley of the Kings, Egypt." (with John Rutherford) In, Valley of the Sun Kings: new explorations in the tombs of the Pharaohs, ed. by R. Wilkinson, U. of Arizona Press, pp.134-156; 1995, "Dental remains from the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt." (with D. Swindler and B. Rothschild) In, Aspects of Dental Biology:Paleontology, Anthropology and Evolution. ed. by J. Moggo-Cecchi. International Institute for the Study of Man; 2000, "Pottery from the Valley of the Kings: Tombs KV 21, 27, 28, 44, 45, and 60."(with Barbara and David Aston) Cahiers de la Ceramique Égyptienne 6:11-26; 2007, "The Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings Project: Work conducted during the 2005 Field Season." Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte 81:345-356-361; 2007, "The Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings Project: Work conducted during the 2006 Field Season." Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte 81:357-361; 2010, "Five Field Seasons in the Royal Necropolis: The Second Phase of the Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings Project." KMT: A Modern Journal of Egyptology 21(4); 2010, The Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings Project: Work conducted during the 2007 Field Season." Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte 84:383-388. A popular narrative of much of the work can be found in: Donald P. Ryan, 2010, Beneath the Sands of Egypt, Harper/Collins.
  2. ^ Zahi Hawass, 2006, “Quest for the Mummy of Hatshepsut.” KMT 17(2):40-43; Zahi Hawass, 2007, “The Scientific Search for Hatshepsut’s Mummy,” KMT 18(3):24; 2009, Chip Brown, 2009, "The King Herself." National Geographic (April) pp.88-111; Zahi Hawass, "Die Entdeckung der Mumie von Königen Hatschepsut." In, Michael Höveler-Müller, ed., 2015, Das Hatschepsut-Puzzle. Nünnerich-Asmus. Zahi Hawass and Sahar Saleem, 2016, Scanning the Pharaohs, American University in Cairo. Hawass’ search for Hatshepsut was also the subject of a Discovery Channel television program, Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen(2007). There has been much skepticism regarding the methods of identification, e.g., J. L. Thimes, 2008, "A dental observation." KMT 19(3):6-7, and Erhart Graefe 2011, "Der angebliche Zahn der angeblich krebskranken Diabetikerin Königin Hatschepsut oder: Die Mumie der Hatschepsut bleibt unbekannt." Göttinger Miszellen 231:41-43. Ryan's comments on the subject can be found in: “KV 60: Ein rätselhaftes Grab in Tal der Könige." In, Michael Höveler-Müller, ed., 2015, Das Hatschepsut-Puzzle. Nünnerich-Asmus.
  3. ^ Donald P. Ryan, "Pyramids in the Atlantic." In, 2010, Beneath the Sands of Egypt, HarperCollins, pp.230-255.
  4. ^ e.g. Donald P. Ryan: 1997, "Thor Heyerdahl et l'Expedition Kon-Tiki: Mythe et Realite." Bulletin de la Société des Etudes Océaniennes 275:22-35; 1997, "Thor Heyerdahl: the life and legacy of an explorer, scholar and world citizen." The Explorers Journal 75(1):14-16; 1998, "American Indians in the Pacific: A 50 year retrospective of the Kon-Tiki Expedition." In, Proceedings of the 4th International Congress on Easter Island and East Polynesia. ed. by C. Stevenson et al. Pp.379-385; 2001, "Historical perspectives of prehistoric seafaring in the Pacific." No Barriers Seminar Papers, Kon-Tiki Museum, Vol. 3: 27-30; 2003 "Mapping the Poike Ditch." (with R. Reanier). In, Easter Island: Scientific Exploration into the World's Environmental Problems in Microcosm.ed. by J. Loret and J. Tanacredi. Kluwer Academic. pp. 207-221.
  5. ^ 1985, "The misidentification of ancient Egyptian plant fibers." Varia Aegyptiaca 1(3):143-149; 1987, "A study of Ancient Egyptian cordage from the British Museum." (with David H. Hansen) Occasional Papers of the British Museum 62; 1988, "The archaeological analysis of inscribed Egyptian funerary cones." Varia Aegyptiaca 4(2):165-170; 1988, "Papyrus." Biblical Archaeologist 51 (Sept.):132-140; 1989, "Belzoni's rope from the tomb of Sethos I." Studien zur Altaegyptische Kultur, Beihefte 2:137-142; 1993, "Old rope: who cares about the ancient Egyptian technology?" KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt 4(2):72-80; 1997, "Ancient Egyptian Basketry." In, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Art (now Grove Encyclopedia of Art); 2001, "Basketry, matting and cordage." In, Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt 1:164-166.,
  6. ^ 1986, "Giovanni Battista Belzoni."Biblical Archaeologist 49(3):133-138; 1995 "David George Hogarth at Asyut, Egypt: 1906-1907: the history of a "lost" excavation." Bulletin of the History of Archaeology 5(2):3-16; 1996, "David George Hogarth: A somewhat reluctant Egyptologist." KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt 7(2):77-81.2004, "The Great Temple revealed: Giovanni Battista Belzoni at Abu Simbel." KMT 15(2):68-82.
  7. ^ e.g. 2005, "The Pharaoh and the Poet." KMT 16(4):76-83; 2006, "Ibsen and Egypt. (with Claudia Berguson) KMT 17; 2007, "Cleopatra Had a Jazz Band: Egypt in Early 20th century sheet music." KMT 18(1):72-80; 2007, "Ancient Egypt on Stage: A brief introduction to two splendid operas." KMT 18(3):75-85; 2007, A shattered visage lies...": Nineteenth Century Poetry Inspired by Ancient Egypt. Rutherford Press; 2009 "'Aikupika Kahiko A Me Ka 'Olelo Hawai'i: Ancient Egypt and the Hawaiian Language." KMT: 20(1):74-82.
  8. ^ 2007, Rutherford Press
  9. ^ 2010, Thames & Hudson. Editions published in Spanish, Hungarian, Russian and Thai.
  10. ^ 2016, Routledge
  11. ^ 2016, American University in Cairo Press
  12. ^ 2010, HarperCollins. Published in German under the title, Im Band der Pharaonen (2011, Theiss).
  13. ^ Kon-Tiki Museum Occasional Papers 14.
  14. ^ 11 2012, Gyldendahl Norsk Forlag
  15. ^ Donald P. Ryan, 1994, "Filming The Face of Tutankamun." KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt 5(3):77-84, Donald P. Ryan,2010, "Adventures in Television Land." In, Beneath the Sands of Egypt, Harper Collins, pp.206-229.

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