Photography for the Theban Mapping Project got off to a flying start-literally-in its second field season in 1979. The Remote Sensing Center of the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research was hired to provide complete vertical aerial photographic coverage of 60 square kilometers of the Theban Necropolis. While individual photographs were useful for the in-house work of the TMP, traditional publishing methods would have made it impossible to offer such a large amount of data to a wider audience at a scale that would be useful for tasks such a identifying new archaeological sites and tracking site condition. Nowadays, computer technology makes it possible to zoom from a view of the entire necropolis to individual stone blocks of a temple or a tomb entrance with a click of the mouse [18084, 18085]. But only if the Theban Mapping Project can obtain additional funding will offering such a capability to everyone from scholars to schoolchildren through its website become a reality.     18084 18085
In 1980, Gaston Chan joined the Theban Mapping Project as photographer. His task was to obtain oblique aerial photography to complement the photographs obtained during the previous season. Tales of his bravery (or was it temporary insanity?) still linger around the Theban Mapping Project office. Gaston was strapped into a chair that was bound to the body of a DC-3 airplane with its side doors removed. The plane would make a sharp turn allowing Gaston to photograph sites suspended nearly perpendicular to the ground.    
The experience does not seem to have scarred Gaston for life. He returned to Luxor in 1982 to participate in another unusual foray into aerial photography. This time, the TMP brought two hot-air balloons to Luxor for the first time. Dr. Weeks sent Gaston and other TMP staff up in the balloons with cameras to obtain more oblique aerial photographs, this time from a low altitude, which would have been impossible to obtain from an airplane [18083]. During the 1983 season, photographer John Ross continued this work [18509].     18083 18509
By the late 1980s, the Theban Mapping Project had shifted its focus underground, as excavation started in KV 5. The slow progress of the work and the small number of finds in the subsequent years meant that the project had no professional photographer on its staff. During winter 1995, corridor 7 and its accompanying 48 side chambers were exposed for the first time since antiquity. In order to be able to record the spectacular finds properly, Dr. Weeks hired photographer Francis Dzikowski as a full-time staff member.    

Published or last modified on: December 18, 2002
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