In 1738, the British bishop Richard Pococke was the first to mention the distinctive Egyptian cornice on the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter.
The earliest illustration of the monument appears in a book by the Italian-German traveler Luigi Mayer, who visited Jerusalem in 1801. Mayer depicted the monument against the backdrop of the Kidron Valley at the top of a towering, rocky cliff. The work dramatizes the landscape, making the cliffs higher than they are in reality. Nevertheless, his depiction of the tomb is fairly accurate, showing its entrance and Egyptian cornice, as well as the entrance to another cave—unknown today—in the cliff beneath the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter.
The renowned Scottish artist David Roberts, who visited the site in 1839, left us a particularly fine illustration of the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter, albeit far from reality in its details. That painting focuses mainly on the Temple Mount; the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter appears in the lower part to balance the various elements in the work and to emphasize the differences in elevation. There is no doubt that Roberts drew this work after he returned home, basing it on sketches he had made on site. In the lower left corner of the painting, six men and women garbed in colorful robes can be seen on the roof of the tomb. The figures, depicted seated or reclining on a rug, were intended to give the painting a sense of vitality as well as to indicate scale. The Egyptian cornice is clearly visible in the painting, seemingly set atop the rock-cut monument as if it were a built, rather than a rock-hewn, element. Above the cornice on the roof, another rectangular block of stone appears, probably a remnant of the pyramid that once crowned the monument. Roberts showed the entrance to the tomb on the east, although in reality it is on the opposite side.
The first written description of the monument appears in the works of the first person to conduct an excavation 047 in Jerusalem (at the Tombs of the Kings), the French nobleman and scholar Felicien de Saulcy, who visited the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter in 1851. It was de Saulcy who coined the name “Egyptian monolith” for the monument, a term subsequently adopted by many scholars. De Saulcy believed that the rock-cut structure was an Egyptian temple that King Solomon built for his Egyptian wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, a theory that had been put forward earlier by Wilhelm Krafft, who also attributed the Tomb of Pharaoh’s daughter to the First Temple period. De Saulcy also included an illustration of the Tomb’s façade in his writings, emphasizing the Egyptian cornice
Following the introduction of photography in the 1850s, Jerusalem began to play an important role in the history of photography; many photographers immortalized the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter. The French archaeologist and pioneer photographer Auguste Salzmann came to Jerusalem in 1850; in 1856, he published a book containing some of the first photographs of the city. He later accompanied de Saulcy, and the latter’s Ottoman excavation permit was actually issued in Salzmann’s name. One of Salzmann’s photographs shows the landscapes of the Kidron Valley and Silwan including the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter. Salzmann’s photographs show that only a small number of houses existed in Silwan at the time and its rocky escarpments were clearly exposed.
A lovely photograph by the German photographer Wilhelm Hammerschmidt (not shown here) shows a stone fence with an arch in front of the tomb. This was built by Russian monks toward the end of the 19th century, so the photograph cannot be earlier than this.
The first plans and cross-sections of the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter, albeit very schematic, were published by Charles Wilson as part of his Ordinance Survey of Jerusalem. These were the first to show the gabled ceiling of the burial chamber in the heart of the monument.
In 1881 the famous French diplomat and scholar Charles Clermont-Ganneau conducted the most profound, precise and detailed study of the monument up to that time. Clermont-Ganneau was the first to determine that this was a funerary monument and not a temple or an altar. It was Clermont-Ganneau who discovered the remains of an early Hebrew inscription on the tomb’s façade, correctly attributing it to the First Temple period.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter was studied by German archaeologist Otto Puchstein, the famed explorer of Petra. Puchstein was the first to present the theory that the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter was once topped by a pyramid that was cut away by later quarrying.