Saqqara and the Museum Network

  • Maarten J. Raven (Author)

    MAARTEN J. RAVEN studied Egyptology, Archaeology and History of Art at Leiden University. He has been the curator of the Egyptian department of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden (Netherlands) since 1978. He became extraordinary professor for the Museology of Ancient Egypt at Leiden University in 2012, and has been the joint Field Director of the Leiden‐Turin excavations at Saqqara since 2000.

Identifiers (Article)


The 2016 General Conference of ICOM in Milan studied the close bond between museums and cultural landscapes. Since it is the main mission of museums to oversee the safekeeping and protection of heritage in general, either within or outside their walls, their involvement with landscapes is inevitable. This contribution focuses on the desert plateau of Saqqara in Egypt, a place which served as a burial ground for the elite for thousands of years, but became a hunting‐ground for plunderers during the nineteenth century. The loot of these tomb‐robbers ended up in public or private collections all over the world, including the National Museum of Antiquities of the Netherlands in Leiden.

Since 1975, the Leiden Museum has organised an archaeological excavation in the New Kingdom cemetery at Saqqara, in an endeavour to reconstruct the original provenance and archaeological context of the treasures in its custody. Over some forty years, this exploration has greatly contributed to a better understanding of not only the objects in Leiden, but also numerous other art works now dispersed in museums all over the globe. Thus, the landscape of Saqqara has become closely connected with a global network of museum professionals, and the expedition has provided the opportunity to realize one of the ideals of ICOM: that of sharing information.