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Celebrating W. Raymond Johnson, Director of the OI Epigraphic Survey

Photo of Ray Johnson

The University of Chicago congratulates W. Raymond Johnson, Director of The Epigraphic Survey of the Oriental Institute, on his recent retirement. Based out of Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt, the Epigraphic Survey, founded in 1924, is a long-standing field project with a mission to to produce photographs and precise line drawings of the inscriptions and relief scenes on major temples and tombs at Luxor for publication. More recently the Survey has expanded its program to include conservation, restoration, site management, and conservation training.

After beginning his career as an Epigraphic Artist in 1979, Johnson became the director of the Epigraphic Survey and Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt. He held this position for the past 25 years. During his tenure, two Epigraphic Survey OI publications were released with a third coming out soon. Over that same period, Ray authored dozens of articles mostly concentrating on the Amarna Period.

Over the past 42 years, Ray has successfully contributed to and led the effort to fulfil Breasted’s vision for Chicago House: to record all of the texts that survive in Egypt for integration into the scientific record. Among his many accomplishments, Ray has successfully secured USAID funding, critical to the work of the Epigraphic Survey. Under him, the Epigraphic Survey has entered the digital era. With the support of the World Monuments Fund, Chicago House provided protected storage of 50,000 inscribed stone fragments in the Luxor Temple block yard, two groups of which were restored to their original walls. The digital photography project in the Luxor Temple block yard provides critical documentation of tens of thousands of inscribed blocks and fragments. This project preserves significant data that will be accessible outside of Egypt for generations to come.

This article was originally posted by the Oriental Institute on August 1, 2022.

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