George Andrew Reisner

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George Andrew Reisner
George Andrew Reisner
Born(1867-11-05)November 5, 1867
DiedJune 6, 1942(1942-06-06) (aged 74)
Giza, Egypt
Known forAncient Egypt
SpouseMary Putnam Bronson
ChildrenMary B. Reisner
Parent(s)Mary Elizabeth Mason
George Andrew Reisner I

George Andrew Reisner Jr. (November 5, 1867 – June 6, 1942) was an American archaeologist of Ancient Egypt, Nubia and Palestine.


Reisner was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His parents were George Andrew Reisner I and Mary Elizabeth Mason. His father's parents were of German descent.[1] Reisner gained B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University, before becoming a travelling fellow.[2]

He married Mary Putnam Bronson, with whom he had a daughter, also called Mary.

In 1889, Reisner was head football coach at Purdue University, coaching for one season and compiling a record of 2–1.

Archaeology career[edit]

Upon his studies at Jebel Barkal (The Holy Mountain), in Nubia he found the Nubian kings were not buried in the pyramids but outside of them. He also found the skull of a Nubian female (who he thought was a king) which is in the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard. Reisner believed that Kerma was originally the base of an Egyptian governor and that these Egyptian rulers evolved into the independent monarchs of Kerma.

He also created a list of Egyptian viceroys of Kush. He found the tomb of Queen Hetepheres I, the mother of King Khufu (Cheops in Greek) who built the Great Pyramid at Giza. During this time he also explored mastabas. Arthur Merton (London Times) remarked in 1936 in the aftermath of the Abuwtiyuw discovery that Reisner "enjoys an unrivalled position not only as the outstanding figure in present-day Egyptology, but also as a man whose soundness of judgement and extensive general knowledge are widely conceded."[3]

In 1902 permission to excavate the Western cemetery in Giza was granted by Gaston Maspero, director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service. The area was divided into three sections, and chosen by lot. The 1902-1905 excavations were financed by Phoebe Apperson Hearst.[4] The southern section was given to the Italians under Ernesto Schiaparelli, the northern strip to the Germans under Ludwig Borchardt, and the middle section to Andrew Reisner.[5] He met Queen Marie of Romania in Giza.[6]

In Egypt, Reisner developed a new archaeological technique which became a standard in the profession, combining the British methods of Petrie, the German methods of Dorpfeld and Koldewey, his own American practicality and his skill for large-scale organization. Despite later being recognised as a mark of good practice, this technique was at the time controversial, and was criticised as being overly elaborate.[7]

In 1908, after a decade in Egypt, Reisner headed the Harvard excavation of Samaria.[8]

In 1913 Reisner was tasked with training the young archaeologist O.G.S. Crawford in excavation techniques, Crawford was later to warmly recall that Reisner was "an excavator of the first rank".[7]

Reisner was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1914 and the American Philosophical Society in 1940.[9][10]


Published works[edit]

  • Amulets. Cairo: Impr. de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale. 1907. (reprint ISBN 978-1-57898-718-4)
  • Early dynastic cemeteries of Naga-ed-Dêr. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs. 1908.
  • The Egyptian conception of immortality. Cambridge: The Riverside Press (Houghton Mifflin). 1912.
  • Excavations at Kerma. Cambridge: Peabody Museum of Harvard University. 1923. (reprint ISBN 0-527-01028-6)
  • Harvard excavations at Samaria, 1908-1910. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1924. (with Clarence Stanley Fisher and David Gordon Lyon)
  • Mycerinus, the temples of the third pyramid at Giza. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1931.
  • The development of the Egyptian tomb down to the accession of Cheops. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1936.
  • A history of the Giza Necropolis. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1942.
  • Canopics. Cairo: Impr. de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale. 1967. (completed by Mohammad Hassan Abd-ul-Rahman)

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Purdue (Independent) (1889)
1889 Purdue 2–1
Purdue: 2–1
Total: 2–1


  1. ^ Reisner, George Andrew. A Biographical Dictionary of Historic Scholars.
  2. ^ Der Manuelian, Peter; Reisner, George Andrew (1 January 1992). Der Manuelian, Peter (ed.). "George Andrew Reisner on Archaeological Photography". Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. 29: 1–34. doi:10.2307/40000481. JSTOR 40000481.
  3. ^ Merton 1936, p. 23.
  4. ^ Der Manuelian, Peter (1 January 1992). "George Andrew Reisner on Archaeological Photography". Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. 29: 1–34. doi:10.2307/40000481. JSTOR 40000481.
  5. ^ Markowitz, Yvonne J., Joyce L. Haynes, and Rita E. Freed. Egypt in the Age of the Pyramids: Highlights from the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Expedition. Boston, Mass: MFA Publications, 2002. Page 33.
  6. ^ "George Andrew Reisner". Archived from the original on 2013-09-14. Retrieved 2005-07-11.
  7. ^ a b Crawford, O.G.S. (1955). Said and Done. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 91.
  8. ^ The Archaeology of Palestine, W.F. Albright, 1960, p.34
  9. ^ "George Andrew Reisner". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2023-05-05.
  10. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2023-05-05.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]