PhD defense Athena Van der Perre

On Thursday 25 November Athena Van der Perre succesfully defended her PhD dissertation "Stone for Amarna. The Use of ancient limestone quarries in the Greater Dayr al-Barsha Region". Congratulations, dr. Van der Perre!


This dissertation studies the limestone quarries of the greater Dayr al-Barsha region (Middle Egypt). The focus lies on the Amarna period gallery quarries of Dayr Abu Hinnis (c. 1350-1332 v. Chr.).
The first chapter gives an overview of the building history of Amarna, and describes the use of limestone in the city. The development of talatat blocks is discussed, as is the known information on Amarna period quarries in general. The chapter continues with a description of the greater Dayr al-Barsha region, including topography, geography and previous research. At last, the methodology and objectives of this study are discussed.
In the second chapter, the focus lies on the quarry as a production unit. The exploitation techniques of the Amarna period are described and compared to previous and later exploitation phases. One of the most important results is the creation of a chisel mark typology, which enabled the identification of Amarna period quarries based on the remaining chisel marks. This chapter also describes the logistics and infrastructure connected to a quarry area.
A quarry ceiling appeared to be the favourite place of the scribes for keeping their administrative notes. Hundreds of hieratic inscriptions, combined with lines, drawings and non-textual marking systems, refer to the work progress, the destination of the quarried stones and the general organisation of a quarry unit. A comprehensive overview of the different types of inscriptions and markings can be found in the third chapter.
Since the total amount of gallery quarries at the area is over 400, it was not possible to describe these all in detail. Therefore, a selection of 10 representative quarries was made. The detailed description of these quarries can be found in chapter 4. The abundance of inscriptions, and the fact that their relative position was important for the study of the general organisation, made it impossible to use the standard documentation methods. 3D ceiling maps were created, based on hundreds of photos, with the help of photogrammetric software. These maps have been added to the thesis in the Appendices.
The last chapter describes the most remarkable inscription of the area. On a pillar in the back of Quarry 320, a building inscription was written. The most important part of the inscription is in fact the date. The text is dated to the 16th regnal year of Akhenaten and adds important information to the history of the city and its rulers. Nefertiti is still mentioned as the Chief King’s Wife, so this not only proves that she was still alive, but also that the royal couple still reigned together. It also shows that significant construction works were still taking place at the end of Akhenaten’s reign.
At last, the general conclusions are given, followed by the appendices.   

Committee members

  • Prof. dr. Harco Willems (promotor) 
  • Dr. Jacobus Van Dijk (co-promotor) 
  • Prof. dr. Barry J. Kemp 
  • Prof. dr. Mark Depauw 
  • Dr. Marleen De Meyer
  • Prof. dr. Dimitri Vanoverbeke (chairman)