Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1428, (31 January - 6 February 2019)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1428, (31 January - 6 February 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Lover of Egypt’s Pyramids

Obituary:  Rainer Stadelmann (1933-2019)

Rainer Stadelmann
Rainer Stadelmann

The German archaeologist Rainer Stadelmann passed away on 14 January, and all those who knew him or knew of him will recognise this great loss to the field of archaeology, Egyptology, and to all of us in Egypt, Germany, and the rest of the world.

I first met Stadelmann around 25 years ago when he used to come to visit Zahi Hawass in the Giza Pyramids area. Stadelmann was a very modest man, great scholar, and wonderful lover of Egypt and its antiquities. He helped the country enormously in terms of studying and saving its monuments and helping and training Egyptian archaeologists when he was the director of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo. He was very gifted on all levels.

On the personal level, with Hawass and Ali Radwan he was one of the three men who wrote letters of recommendation for me in order to study for my PhD in Egyptology and Near Eastern Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University in the US in 2002. With Hawass and Mark Lehner, Stadelmann was one of the best scholars of the Pyramids Age.

He had a long a career studying and working in the archaeological field in Egypt. He was born on 24 October 1933 in Oettingen in Bavaria in Germany. He studied Egyptology and Near Eastern and Classical Archaeology at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg and received his PhD degree from Heidelberg University in 1960.

He first served as an assistant professor in Heidelberg and obtained his habilitation in 1967. He was then appointed deputy-director of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, where he later served as director from 1989 to 1998 in one of the golden ages of the institute.

Stadelmann was an internationally renowned scholar. He published widely on a wide range of Egyptological topics. His PhD dissertation was on the veneration of Syro-Palestinian deities in ancient Egypt in what became a standard study of the subject. Then he moved to field work on the Theban Temples, especially the royal funerary temples, particularly the Temple of Seti I at Gurna and the Temple of Millions of Years of Amenhotep III at Kom Al-Hettan.

He became an authority on this very interesting topic. However, the most important expertise of Stadelmann’s scholarly work is the archaeology, art and history of the Old Kingdom, especially the Pyramids Age. His work concentrated on the great Pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty and their monuments. He contributed extensively to this topic through his fieldwork in Dahshour and his scholarly publications.

As the director of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, Stadelmann further developed the profile of the institute to include many amazing and innovative projects. He was among the institute’s most successful directors, deepening cooperation with Egyptian archaeologists and stakeholders and supporting them to unprecedented levels.

He received the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz), the Grand Officer of the Order of the Republic of Egypt, and the Egyptian Hathor Medal in recognition of his achievements. He was a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres in Paris and was also an honorary professor at Heidelberg University.

Stadelmann’s passing has come as a great shock to Egyptology and Egyptian archaeology. Scholars across the world have been saddened by the loss of a respected colleague, a highly appreciated friend, and a wonderful human being.  

The last time I met with him was in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University when he and his wife, Hourig Sourouzian, came to give a wonderful lecture about their excavations at the Temple of Amenhotep III at Kom Al-Hettan in Western Thebes.

Last year, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum organised a major exhibition on the work of Stadelmann and Sourouzian at this temple, celebrating 20 years of their achievements there. It was opened by Mustafa Al-Feki, director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and it was a great success. Although Stadelmann was ill at the time and was not able to attend the exhibition in person, his spirit and achievements were very much among us. 

We shall all greatly miss Stadelmann, and all condolence are due to his wife and co-scholar Sourouzian for her loss.  

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