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The Egyptologist Victor Clement Georges Philippe Loret


Victor Clement Georges Philippe Loret

Egyptologist

by Jimmy Dunn


Victor Clement Georges Philippe Loret was born in Paris on September 1st, 1859. He studied with Maspero at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes and the College de France. He became a member of the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo in 1881, where he began working among the royal and private tombs at Thebes. He was director in 1886. He was a reader at the University of Lyons between 1886 and 1929, where he founded the school of Egyptology. Between 1897 and 1899, he was the Director General of the Egyptian Antiquities Service and excavated in the Valley of the Kings, producing impressive results. He also excavated at Saqqara. He is also noted as the founder of the Antiquities Service Journal. He died in Lyons on February 3rd, 1946.

Victor Loret

Loret was actually one of the first members of the French Archaeological Mission in Cairo, and with Maspero, Loret traveled down the Nile, becoming enchanted with the country. Working on the West Bank of Luxor (ancient Thebes) during 1883 with Eugene Lefebure, he copied the decorations and studied the inscriptions of both royal and private tombs. This was his first contact with the Valley of the Kings, where fifteen years later, he would make the greatest discoveries of this life, the tombs of Tuthmosis III (KV34) and Amenhotep II (KV35). Amenhotep II's mummy was still located in his royal sarcophagus but the tomb also proved to hold a cache of several of the most important New Kingdom Pharaohs such as Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III and Ramesses III, along with other pharaohs and royalty. The cache of Royal Mummies had been placed in KV35 to protect them from looting by tomb robbers by the 21st Dynasty High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem. In all, Loret uncovered sixteen tombs on the West Bank.

An early 20th Century photograph showing the dramatic location of Tuthmosis III's tomb.


Between 1886 and until 1929, while holding the chair of Egyptology at Lyons, he went back to Egypt only during the period between 1897 and 1899 as the Director of the Antiquities Service. But he was more interested in research and excavation than in administration and public relations, so his directorship of the Antiquities Service attracted unfavorable comments from Egyptologists at the time.

Loret was also a good scholar and teacher. Included amongst his students were Kuentz, Devaud, Montet, Gauthier and Varille, all of whom became well known Egyptologists in their own rights and continued to enjoy excellent relationships with their mentor, regularly writing to him and visiting him in Lyons.

Upon his death, his library and a small group of glass plate negatives went to the University of Lyons, while his philological notes were in part bequeathed to Montet and are now in the Institute de France in Paris. However, the majority of his archives were left to his most beloved student, Alexandre Varille. They were stored in the Varille family flat in Lyons and in their country house at Lourmarin de Provence, where they remained alongside the archives of Varille. Though Varille died only five years after his teacher in November of 1951, the important collection of papers, drawings, photographs and other materials belonging to the two scholars were jealously guarded by the Varille family for almost another half century, until the heirs eventually decided to sell them. Thanks to the antiquarian booksellers Ars Libri of Boston, which had already sold the Varille library in 2001, the Universita di Milano was able to acquire the entire archive in January 2002, adding to its already impressive Egyptological resources.

Resources:


Title

Author

Date

Publisher

Reference Number

Complete Pyramids, The (Solving the Ancient Mysteries)

Lehner, Mark

1997

Thames and Hudson, Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05084-8

Complete Valley of the Kings, The (Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs)

Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H.

1966

Thames and Hudson Ltd

IBSN 0-500-05080-5

Discovery of Egypt, The (Artists, Travellers and Scientists)

Beaucour, Fernand; Laissus, Yves; Orgogozo, Chantal

1990

Flammarion

ISBN 2-08-013506-6

Excavating in Egypt: The Egypt Exploration Society 1882-1982

James, T. G. H.

1982

University of Chicago Press, The

ISBN 0-226-39192-2

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