Television

Digging into the past

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2016/02/18/NGC.jpg?itok=cz56rlU2

Nat Geo will telecast live an excavation of Egyptian pyramids later this month. The principal archaeologist leading the venture, Dr Mark Lehner, spoke to indiantelevision.com in New Delhi recently about his passion for the art and science of his craft and what he hopes to unearth during the novel exercise...

He looks more like a university professor, which he was, rather than an active archaeologist.

But Dr Mark Lehner, a National Geographic Society grantee is an interesting person anyhow. "I am a sceptic," he says when asked about curses which are associated with Egyptian pyramids, "I don‘t disbelieve them, but don‘t believe in them either."

Curses or no curses, the 50-something Dr Lehner believes archaeology is not just about excavating ancient cities, but that it is a science which tells modern human beings what life was like many years before their own existence and answers some of the bigger questions like human culture and its evolution.

"Take, for example, the excavations we just completed in June in Egypt. We discovered a virtual city which is almost 4,500 years old and the various findings (big and small) tell us a tale : how people lived then, their eating habits and what all they did for a living. It‘s so fascinating," he says.

Dr Lehner will feature in a programme which will be telecast live on National Geographic Channel live later this month. In the Nat Geo funded excavation which was also turned into a production for telly, In Egypt: Secret Chambers Revealed,‘ Egyptologists Dr Mark Lehner and Dr Zahi Hawass will take viewers deep within Khufu‘s Great Pyramid to the Queen‘s Chamber, where architecturally complex shafts remain a mystery - their function and purpose unknown.

"What still surprises me is how modern ancient Egyptian cities (like any other ancient civilisation, including the Harappan civilisation) were. If I can say the cities were very modern," Dr Lehner says with a child-like passion on a subject, which probably is more dear to him than his own self. Citing another instance of the information that they are in the process of culling from their findings, Dr Lehner says the various kinds of animal bones, including fish bones, found at the site (only partly excavated) tell us that the people who lived in that part of the city (which probably was a boarding school or barracks) led a very regimented life, but were also fed very well.

The bones which have been found, and the quantity that has been uncovered, indicates people living then consumed all sorts of meat, including beef, says Dr Lehner, giving an insight into the lifestyle of the people living then. "The excavations also tell us that they were burning the tree cover around them for baking purposes and making tools that need good amount of fire," he adds.

Did they feel uncomfortable while excavating because of the obtrusive presence of the whirring TV cameras? Not Dr. Lehner. Simply because he has done similar work earlier too which have been turned into great programmes and documentaries for the small screen. "I have been associated with a number of films, including the Horizon which was aired on BBC (in the UK) and so am used to this. In fact, the present excavation work and production (of the TV programme) went hand-in-hand," says the archaeologist who is so unlike many of his ilk, portrayed in numerous Hollywood productions.

Dr Lehner is an acknowledged authority on Egyptian archaeology whose contributions, theories, and discoveries have opened a new era in Old Kingdom studies. A research associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and at Harvard University‘s Semitic Museum, Dr. Lehner‘s fourteen years of excavations on the Giza plateau have uncovered the missing city of the pyramid builders, including their dwellings, bakeries, storage warehouses, food production facilities, and workshops. While Egypt during these early years has been described as a "civilization without cities," Dr Lehner‘s study of the pyramid builders‘ urban settlement is changing such notions about this ancient land.

Now recognized as one of the world‘s foremost experts on the Giza monuments, Dr Lehner originally came to Egypt in 1972 as a tourist. After spending time examining the monuments of Egypt, he began studying traditional Egyptology. He received his BA in Anthropology from the American University in Cairo in 1975, and his PhD in Egyptology from Yale University, where he was awarded the Sterling Prize Fellowship and the William J. Horowitz Prize, in 1991. Between 1979 and 1983, Dr Lehner was the field director for the Sphinx for the American Research Center in Egypt, which documented and studied the great Sphinx. Since 1984, he has directed the Giza Plateau Mapping Project, which conducts excavations of Old Kingdom settlements, tombs, and temples near the Sphinx and pyramids for topographical and archaeological survey and mapping.

Does Dr Lehner feel that he and his associates can excavate the whole Egyptian city, part of which will be aired on NGC ? "I don‘t think we‘ll be able to excavate the whole city. Even if the Egyptian government gives us concessions, then too I can spend my whole life digging there and still keep on finding new things," he says modestly, hinting that the present find is indeed huge as the city (footprints of which are being put together) spreads almost over an area of 300 hecatares and the excavation work completed is "just about 10 per cent."

Apart from the much publicised findings, what were the other valubales dug up? Some 18,000 pieces of chip stones, 400,000 pieces of pottery and 300,000 pieces of charcoal (evidence of tree burning). May sound like trivia, but for experts like Dr Lehner, all these findings will unravel various tales and give the modern day human an insight into ancient civilisations.

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/20/vinit.jpg?itok=KKGn2OLY
“We focus on digital to promote non-film music” - Vinit Thakkar

EMI Records India recently launched its own unique platform VYRL Originals which completed six months on 12 July. Every month, a single was released with the latest being Aaya Na Tu by Arjun Kanungo and Momina Mustehsan. EMI Records India was launched in May 2015 by Universal Music Group in...

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/20/star.jpg?itok=K3XoMVlt
Star Bharat experiments with early morning slot

Star Bharat is all set to experiment with weekend morning slot by launching a three-hour programming band from 5 August.

Television TV Channels GECs
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/20/nat-geo.jpg?itok=d0gKCXTS
National Geographic’s new show to tell success stories of India’s icons

National Geographic will be coming up with a unique show called Mega Icons which will see the success stories of inspiring personalities of India from different platforms.

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/20/logo.jpg?itok=kqtvgsLH
Viacom signs deal with pocket.watch for small screen content

Kids’ entertainment platform pocket.watch has raised $15 million in a funding round led by Viacom. Under their agreement.

Television TV Channels Kids
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/20/star-maa.jpg?itok=ILnfHVFv
STAR Maa announces call for entries for a brand new reality show PelliChoopulu

In continuation to give its viewers a unique and entertaining show, Star Maa the most viewed Telugu entertainment channel has announced the call for entry for its upcoming reality show PelliChoopulu.

Television TV Channels Regional
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/20/zee.jpg?itok=hkFiTrEy
Zee Telugu announces auditions for all new season of its legendary dance reality show, Aata Juniors

Aata Juniors, one of Zee Telugu’s most sought-after reality shows is soon making a comeback to the channel and is looking for the final contestants via auditions.

Television TV Channels Regional
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/20/bahu.jpg?itok=oVI8-9Wk
Sony Max pushes its way to most watched Hindi channel across genres

Sony Pictures Network India (SPN) Hindi movies channel Sony Max was ranked second in Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) weekly list of top 10 channels across genres (across genres list) for week 28 of 2018 (Saturday, 7 July 2018 to Friday, 13 July 2018, week or period under review...

Television TV Channels Viewership
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/19/manish_0.jpg?itok=cAX2IDtI
Dangal TV prepares to scale up ambition with new play

When it comes to general entertainment channels (GECs), hitting the sweet spot isn’t all that easy.

Television TV Channels GECs
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/19/fox.jpg?itok=qeI4K472
Comcast drops bid for 21st Century Fox assets, cedes prize to Disney

The fierce bidding war between Comcast and Disney has finally ended with the former dropping out of the race to gobble up the prized 21st Century Fox assets. Comcast will now shift its focus towards sealing the Sky deal.

Television TV Channels Movie Channels

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories