L.S. Baker at the Great Hypostyle Hall project site. Photo credit: Courtesy of L.S. Baker 

May 2, 2024

Andrews University Archaeologist Documents Egypt’s Great Hypostyle Hall

Andrews University archaeologist and associate director of Andrews University Press, L.S. Baker, Jr., PhD, returned to Karnak temple in Luxor, Egypt in March to continue his work as an epigrapher on the Great Hypostyle Hall project.

Baker joined a group of experts from a consortium of institutions under the direction of world-renowned Egyptologist Peter Brand from the University of Memphis, with authorization from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. 

The project’s aim is to create precise facsimile representations of the wall reliefs associated with the famous Great Hypostyle Hall in the temple of Amun at Karnak. Brand assigned the portion of the wall containing the Merenptah battle reliefs and the Hittite Peace Treaty to Mark Janzen, PhD, associate professor at Lipscomb University and Egyptologist at the Lanier Center for Archaeology at Lipscomb. 

Baker currently works as a research associate with the Lanier Center and is part of Janzen’s team. He also serves as an epigrapher due to his specialty in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, history and culture. His task last year was to work on the famous Hittite Peace Treaty, the oldest known peace treaty between two major world powers. A copy of the treaty is prominently featured in the United Nations headquarters in New York City. 

This year, Baker’s task was to finish work on the treaty with Janzen’s team. He was also assigned to document inscription reliefs of battles by Ramses the Great and his son Merenptah in the Holy Land on a section of the wall beside the peace treaty.  

“The hieroglyph version that we are working on is 38 lines of extremely small text that is mostly intact, but portions of it are missing due to damage over time,” Baker says. “My task both last season and this season is to identify each hieroglyph, including those in the damaged areas, so the artist can quickly recognize what is damage and what is glyph.” 

Baker expresses his belief that God blessed the project, allowing him to finish his field work on the treaty earlier than expected. Thus, he was able to help the rest of the team by checking the collation of hieroglyphs and associated battle scenes that the expedition artist had drawn from the previous season’s work. Each year, Baker reports, the team has recognized God’s hand in helping them accomplish much more than expected. 

In his role at Andrews University Press, Baker has served as the managing editor of the “Andrews Study Bible” and the “Andrews Bible Commentary.” The Commentary, released in 2022, was written in a reader-friendly format by scholars of the church for the people of the church. In his professional specialty as an Egyptian archaeologist, Baker also serves as consultant to the world Pathfinder organization and will be present at this summer’s International Pathfinder Camporee in Gillette, WY. Each day, he will present the historical and cultural backgrounds of the program. The theme of the event is the experience of the Exodus, one of Baker’s areas of professional specialty.  

Andrews University Press is the primary academic publishing house for the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide. Founded in 1874, Andrews University is a premier institution of higher education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and offers more than 150 areas of study, including advanced degrees. Its main campus is in Berrien Springs, Michigan, but the University also provides instruction at colleges and universities in more than 25 countries around the world. 

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