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Herbert Winlock letter to Albert Lythgoe. April 25, 19202017-06-06T11:10:07+00:00

Herbert Winlock:

“I’ve nothing either astounding nor important to write you this evening”

Herbert WInlock letter to Albert Lythgoe, 1920

Herbert WInlock letter to Albert Lythgoe, 1920



On april 25, 1920, Herbert Winlock wrote a letter to Albert Lythgoe, in which he basically told Lythgoe about the progress they were making.Particularly interesting (for the Dig House Project) are the lines in which Herbert WInlock tells Lythgoe about the expansion of the Metropolitan House.




Upper Egypt

April 25 1920


Dear Mr. Lythgoe,


I’ve nothing either astounding nor important to write you this evening but a couple of letters came from my wife today and in them she mentions hearing from Mrs. Lythgoe who described how ill you had been and how, when you were seedy, you liked to hear from the work. I am not either supposing you are seedy or hoping this will come to you & cheer up sick room hours but you may be glad to know that we all are alive.

We have sent away all of the workmen except fifteen who are doing odd jobs. They have been used principally cutting rock out back for the foundation of the new drafting room which is beginning to show up a little. We will get a fine room with north light 7 meters long and from 3 ½ – 4½ meters wide which we figure should hold our large accumulation of surveying instruments, plans and maps and give proper working conditions for as many as three men at a time. The present room will only hold two and has no light in the afternoon and no proper ventilation for workers. It will however combine excellently with one of the bed rooms to make a married suite parallel with yours and about as attractive by changing its door around. We will also get in this new building a small miktib which will be necessary if – as you wrote Burton – we have a full house next year. My own building I have not begun on

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yet but the place is cleared and I have laid out a plan. It will consist of a porch 4X6 meters which I am going to buy wire netting for in America, and a small dining room with a minute pantry beside it. The porch will open off our bed room – which will be the children’s and we will sleep in the room we formerly had for a nurse. A passage along the back of the house will give access for servants from the kitchen.

Burton is photographing models – I enclose a few of his prints. He says he hasn’t the proper plates for rendering the colors but I think he has accomplished marvels. You’ve no idea how hard it is to get browns and reds and blacks and also to get points of view that mean anything. I speak feelingly about the posing for I found that I had to pose each one. He does not always grasp what would be of interest to emphasize in a publication nor how things could be combined in a publication. Each object has been done from a lot of points and if some things aren’t clear in the present prints, they are in the comparison prints which I will send some later time.

Hauser has made a very fine survey of the big tomb at 1:100 – plan and section – and he and Hall have done together the pits and chambers. The plans of the tomb of Wah and the Sirdab with everything in position I did myself in the tomb and have inked them since. Hall is now making drawings of all the models. He is making each model as an actual building and making plans and sections of everything except the human figures. You thus get the layout of a granary or a butcher shop. He is then making full size drawings of each article of equipment. The camera will not always show things because of impossible points of view. A drawing can be made however very often which will supplement the photograph. Incidentally the drawings are the best things Hall has ever done for us.

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Lansing – while he helps of course from time to time – is working again on his XVII Dynasty pottery as it was agreed he should be when I left (here’s an unreadable word), and Hauser has now returned to his 1/1000 Palace plan which he is transferring to zinc mounted sheets. Hall will remain on the models, therefore, Burton on the photographs and I am on the mending. It will always be a satisfaction to have had such a team and to be able to complete the field work so thoroughly in the one season.

My new share is repairing and posing. You can not imagine how good a time I have with a pot of glue and some plaster and some paint. Every model had some breaks from the fallen roof and parts of one had fallen into the next. And then there were broken legs and arms and such. Naturally everything has to be sorted but once sorted even you could not be sure that in Cairo they would be assembled correctly and besides we need the photographs. In the granary for instance the scribe’s tablet was smashed and one of the men’s arms and legs. In the carpenter shop it’s man had lost his mallet, the sawyer had lost his saw and the little man in the detail photograph had lost his arm which was broken in two places and his gudênu (?) was smashed. All this has to be patched up for the photographs and temporary patching is impossible. I have made final repairs, therefore, up to the point necessary for photography but no further. This will be something left for Richards.

I must now stop. I forgot Carter was coming to dinner and I hear him outside. We are talking of getting away from Egypt the end of May but Only Burton has been able to get a passage. A new hot spell has started.




  1. The original letter is in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  2. Reproduction of this letter on our website, courtesy of the Egyptian Art Department Archives, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  3. Thanks to Lee Young for her invaluable help with the transcription of this letter.