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The "Quick Search" box on the Giza website is a handy tool for searching across most fields in the Giza online database. But have you ever wished to search Giza photography by the content of the images? If you are researching, for example, tomb wall scenes of female musicians, then a descriptve photo caption suchs as "Tomb G 2180, south wall" will be of little use.

But now, thanks to the implementation of "Multilingual Egyptological Thesaurus" (MET) terminology, users may locate almost any image on the Giza website according to the thematic content shown. The MET applies to two-dimensional wall scene photos, as well as three-dimensional object photos. This is a powerful tool for highly specialized topical research.

How does it work? Simply go to the Advanced Search page and click on "Advanced Search for Photos." Click on one of the "Choose term..." category boxes and the resulting pop-up window contains hierarchical lists you can select; or just type the term in yourself. You can add as many terms as you wish across the various categories. Click the "Search" box and the website will retrieve all the images requested.

Every found image window also displays its entire list path of related thesaurus terms as clickable links. For example, a search for scenes of monkeys may return image "A6625_NS." All related thesaurus terms for this photo are also displayed, so users may veer off onto any research tangent of interest:

MET 02 : Architectural unit / Tomb/mastaba/pyramid : Chapel
MET 02 : Architectural element : Wall
MET 05 : Non organic / Rock : Limestone
MET 08 : Attitude of arms/hands : Left hand on body
MET 08 : Animal : Mammal
MET 08 : Attitude of arms/hands : Right hand on leg
MET 08 : Attitude of body : Sitting
MET 08 : Human / Man : Tomb owner
MET 06 : General technique / Relief : Engraved relief

The MET Thesaurus

In 1996 the Utrecht-based Centre for Computer-aided Egyptological Research (CCER) published the Multilingual Egyptological Thesaurus in English, French, and German (edited by Dirk van der Plas). This 154-page thesaurus is the most comprehensive to date, covering such topics as sites, place name and people spellings, dating and chronology, types of artifacts, states of preservation, current locations around the world, and other categories.

To date, the five most important of the fifteen major categories of MET thesaurus structure have been integrated into the Giza website:

MET 02 Category
MET 05 Material
MET 06 Technique
MET 07 State of preservation
MET 08 Description

Additional categories will be integrated over time. The complete MET category list is provided below:

MET 01 Present location
MET 02 Category
MET 03 Provenance
MET 04 Dating
MET 05 Material
MET 06 Technique
MET 07 State of preservation
MET 08 Description
MET 09 Language
MET 10 Writing
MET 11 Category of text
MET 12 Text content
MET 13 Divine names
MET 14 Royal names
MET 015 Acquisition

MET thesaurus descriptions are a work in progress, as new images are constantly being added to the Giza database. We also expect to treat archaeological illustrations of decorated tomb wall scenes and objects in a similar fashion. We plan for ever more detailed passes through the media records to continue to enhance this useful scholarly research tool.

Photograph © Marcello Bertinetti/Archivio White Star

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is one of the world's most comprehensive art museums, recognized for the quality and scope of its collection. The Museum's collection is comprised of: Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints and Drawings; Contemporary Art; Photographs; Textiles and Costumes; and Musical Instruments. The MFA has an estimated 350,000 objects among its permanent holdings, including a world-famous collection of Egyptian art. For more information, log onto

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation aids and promotes religious, charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes to further the public welfare or tend to promote the well-doing or well-being of mankind. For more information, log onto

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