After having had to postpone our planned fieldwork at Tell Buweib from Spring 2013 and then again from the Autumn, we will be leaving on Saturday for Cairo, and hope to be working again in the Delta by the end of next week.
Delta Survey Workshop papers online and 'open access'
The third MSA/EES Delta Survey Workshop took place on 22-23 March 2013 at the British Council in Cairo. The EES hopes to publish as many of the papers as we can online and ‘open access’, and the first four have just been uploaded at http://www.ees.ac.uk/research/Delta_Workshop.html:
Aiman Ashmawy Ali, The SCA excavation at Tell Basta 2002
AymanWahby and Karim Abdel Fattah, Some little-known archaeological sites in Dakahlia Governorate
Hesham M Hussein and Sayed Abd el-Aleem, Tell el-Kedwa (Qedua): Saite Fortresses on Egypt’s Eastern Frontier
Manuela Lehmann, Skylines, bridges and mud in the Delta and elsewhere
Tell Balasun in Dakahlia Governorate - one of the sites described in Ayman Wahby and Karim Abdel Fattah’s article.
Modern multi-storey houses in the Yemen which can be compared with ancient Egyptian tower houses (see Manuela Lehmann’s article).
Some of the papers at the Workshop are effectively already available for download and links will be provided for these, eg:
Ross Thomas and Alexandra Villing, Naukratis (Kom Geif) 2012 field season
We returned to Cairo today after a very successful two days in Mansura. On Sunday we went there by train – something we haven’t done for many years as usually we hire a car for our field seasons. It was the first time I’d seen the main Cairo railway station since it was refurbished and it is quite amazing. As I said in a tweet that day, it reminded us of Las Vegas!
The main hall of the railway station at Cairo.
On arrival we went to the office of the SCA Director in Dakhalia, Neguib Nur, and talked with him and his colleagues about our application to work at Tell Buweib in October. As ever, they were all very welcoming and helpful and arranged for us to visit the site the following day with Sayed el-Talhawy who had directed excavations at Buweib for the SCA ten years ago.
On Monday we met Sayed at the SCA office and drove by taxi (about an hour and a half from Mansura) to Tell Buweib where we walked over the site and Sayed told us about the results of the previous SCA excavations. We then went for a very welcome drink of tea in the nearest house to the tell.
View of Tell Buweib from the house where we were given tea.
The house owner’s granddaughter, who was very wary of us.
There were several cats around the house, including this ginger kitten.
This morning we got the train back to Cairo and we fly home on Thursday after a short but very successful and productive stay in Egypt.
Aidan is noting that the passion of the final discussion shows the value of having so many people together in one place to discuss their work and concerns. Papers over the past two days have ranged from discussions of single sites to surveys of areas and overviews. The EES is very keen that these events should continue. Aidan was pleased that we had such an international presence, and so many papers from our Egyptian colleagues. Finally he would like to thank all the speakers, the session chairs, the British Council and Jeff, Faten and me for doing all the work!!
In reply to Ayman Wahby, Mohamed Abd el-Maguid says that everyone talks about the tomb of Alexander the Great which should be in the ‘Soma’ and he hopes that it has not yet been destroyed. He reiterated the problems of excavating in the deep stratigraphy of Alexandria. Geoffrey Tassie is pointing out that other cities, such as London and Lincoln, have similar problems and it might be worth consulting, for example, the Museum of London Archaeological Service for advice.
Robert Schiestl queried the prominence Penny gave to the Ptolemaic Period which her own survey work seemed not to support for the northern west Delta. Penny agreed that most of the sites seem to be Late Antique but she doesn’t believe they are necessarily all LA foundations and wonders if Ptolemaic evidence might be found if sondages were to be dug into the apparently-later sites in the area. Robert said that his own sondages have only found evidence for Roman levels, not Ptolemaic.
Tomasz Herbich is advising Jeff to pass on to the Naukratis team that caesium magnetometery will be more productive to locate river channels.
Mohammed Abd el-Maguid is asking about evidence for maritime activities at Naukratis. Jeff says there were some anchors from Petrie’s work and Penny added that some nails and sheeting from ships were found.
In reply to Joanne Rowland, Penny says more training is needed of local archaeologists to survey and document endangered sites as they are already in Egypt and can respond quickly if rescue archaeology is necessary. Aiman el-Ashmawy is stressing the importance of survey data and especially magnetometery scans being available to SCA Inspectors. Edgar Pusch is emphasising the importance of scanning as it can reveal archaeological deposits so much more quickly than excavation. Tomasz Herbich has explained the different advantages of fluxgate and caesium magnetometry.
Aiman is making the point that scans would enable the SCA to judge in advance if a site needs excavation before being released. Edgar is recommending that scanning the fields around obvious tells would show their extent even if they have been flattened.
Discussion has turned to making data available to as many people as possible and as easily as possible. Jeff is suggesting that scans and images can be made readily available to everyone if they can be hosted online, as many satellite images now are. However, it all costs money - both to do the initial scanning and to host it online - and it would need organising and maintaining. Reports can also be uploaded and made available as PDFs online, as he did with the final Balamun report which can be downloaded for free from the BM website. Aidan is pointing out that online publication would also allow errors to be corrected or data updated. Ayman Wahby says there is still a problem getting information about sites from the SCA. Tomasz says he always tries to publish his scanning as soon as possible.
The final talk of the Workshop is being given by Mohamed Kenawi, on behalf of himself and Robert Littman, on Tell Timai. The team has been working at this site near Mendes for three years. The central part of the town is Late Roman and Byzantine. In the north-west is the necropolis and in the north-east, looking towards Mendes, are modern buildings, including industrial structures. The south part of the site has extensive mud-brick remains.
The goddess Isis seems to have been especially worshipped at the site and many Isis lamps have been found.
An Isis lamp from Tell Timai
A stamped Rhodian amphora handle
The site is still being threatened by development and further excavation will be essential. The team will be back in the field from May 2013.
Another EES Field Director, Penny Wilson, is now presenting a paper to look at how the information from Delta Survey work can be optimised and made usefully accessible to all the stake-holders, from major funding institutions to local school-children. She will attempt to evaluate the survey data and its coverage, to measure the amount ofwork still to be done and to raise particular questions and problems . In particular:
How useful is site visiting without other topographical work in the satellite survey age?
To what extent can local knowledge and interests be built into site work (the cultural heritage co-efficient)?
What is the intended legacy of the survey work – for all archaeologists, geographers and government agencies interested in the work (looking at the EAIS objectives)?
What overall chronological, geological and humanistic frameworks are applicable?
How can the Delta Survey be augmented in a low-cost, low-tech way by researchers in Egypt (training and funding, quality control)?
Penny is first tracing over time the development of the coastline of the western Delta, the changing Nile channels and the development of what is now Lake Burullos. To demonstrate the way Nile channels have moved, Penny is showing a section from Sais where the Neolithic levels (4,500-4,000 BC) are overlaid by Nile alluvium, before the level of the Buto-Maadi phase of 3,000 BC.
Section at Sais.
Penny is looking at the range of sites in the north-west Delta included in the EES Delta Survey. The two major sites are Buto and Kom Khawalad with many more small sites along the ancient Nile branches and gathered around the major centres. Many of these northern sites continue up to the 10th century AD.
The EES is currently surveying the large site of Tell Mutubis (Kom el-Ahmar) where the pottery is mostly 4th-7th centuries AD with some earlier material (1st century BC) and a few Islamic sherds going down to the 10th century AD. Mutubis thus seems to be mainly a Late Antique site. Why does there seem, from the surviving archaeological evidence, to have been so little Ptolemaic interest on the northern coast? Penny thinks we need to think about why people would live there, what they would be doing and why they might have stopped doing it in the 10th century AD. How sustainable would intensive agricultural activities have been in antiquity in this region?
Penny sees the following possibility:
Large scale Late Period/Ptolemaic intensification in northern Egypt with increased settlement density on waterways.
Boom period in 5th-10th centuries.
Abandonment in 10th century leading to depopulation and abandonment of sites.
How should the story be disseminated? The work shouldn’t end with the submission of the report to the SCA at the end of the season.
Mohamed Abd el-Maguid has started his talk on Alexandria by identifying the problems, including the destruction of archaeological remains, and the scarcity of fixed and known points within the city. The changing shoreline also hinders the identification of ancient monuments known from other sources such as the geographers and historians of the Greek and Roman Periods, and medieval maps.
Since Alexandria has had such a long continuous history, the city has 14m of archaeological fill and excavation trenches can be very deep. In the excavation of the British Council garden, the Roman level was at 7m down and the Hellenistic at a depth of 9m. Sometimes, if there is a reason, the SCA has to excavate within houses which can result in narrow deep trenches in which the archaeology is difficult to discern
Excavation within a house.
Small trenches can often only show that a wall runs from one side to the other, or that a doorway leads off into a tomb, or glimpse a part of a mosaic, but the archaeological structures can not be excavated because of the depth and extent of fill above and around.
SCA excavations in progress.
An other problem is that rescue excavations often have to be carried out very quickly as there is pressure from the householders or the builders whose work is being held up so the excavations look very ‘busy’ with so much recording being done at once.
Mohamed is now describing some of the finds of recent excavations including child burials in a cemetery, and many water cisterns. The main group of cisterns is in western Alexandria and provide important information on the hydrogeography of the city in the Roman and Ottoman Periods.
Tombs at Alexandria are often sealed with stone slabs with faint traces of inscriptions naming the deceased. When the presence of a text is suspected, infra-red photography is used to make the text visible. Behind the sealed slabs are the decorated urns which contain the ashes of the deceased.
All archaeological work in Alexandria has to be reported in full before the SCA can give permission for building where archaeological deposits have been found. The positions of rescue work are now all being recorded in a database and on a location map.
Final session of the 2013 Workshop and It’s Jeff’s turn to speak. He’s presenting, on behalf of Ross Thomas and Alexandra Villing, the results of the first season of British Museum fieldwork at Naukratis - a site that was, of course, identified and first excavated, by Petrie for the EEF.
In 2008 the BM initiated a project to study Egyptian/Greek contacts within Egypt and the main sites for that are Tell Dafana in the east Delta and Naukratis in the west. Today Jeff will be discussing the Naukratis part of the project, directed by Alexandra Villing, which is studying the thousands of objects found by Petrie and later by Hogarth and now scattered across the world’s museums, with the majority being in the BM, and published in an online catalogue: www.britishmuseum.org/naukratis.
Naukratis was the main Greek trade centre in Egypt with imports coming from all over the meditereanean world, arriving in Egypt at the port of Herakleion and then shipped by canal to Naukratis.
Trade routes to and from Naukratis.
Jeff has summarised the (separate) excavations of Petrie and Hogarth, and is now looking at the work between 1977 and 1983 by Coulson and Leonard who incorrectly located the Nile through the enclosure of the Egyptian temple. The area of the Greek town had filled with water and been a lake for around 100 years but it has since been drained and so is accessible once again for study.
In 2012 the BM team undertook a short season at the site, directed in the field by Ross Thomas, with a survey to tie together all previous work, and some magnetic scanning in accessible areas where the fields were not under cultivation.
The aim of the survey was to produce as accurate a plan of the site as possible, integrating the plans of earlier excavators and superimposing them on a GoogleEarth image. This showed that Petrie’s plan was very accurate, Hogarth’s a bit less so and the Leonard/Coulson plan accurate in the north but with a major discrepancy in the south, related to the location of the Egyptian temple enclosure and the ‘fort’.
The magnetic scanning identified the correct location of the Nile channel to the west of the town.
The magnetic scan overlaid on a GoogleEarth image, showing the Nile channel.
The scanning of the Egyptian temple enclosure at the south of the site revealed structures within it, and scanning in the fields also shows that archaeological material is preserved, so there are remains of the ancient town beneath cultivated land.
Jeff is explaining the misidentification by Leonard/Coulson of the ‘south’ mound as Petrie’s ‘fort’.
The team also collected surface sherds and undertook small scale test excavation in preparation for more extensive work in April this year.
Joanne Rowland who is chairing this afternoon’s session asked Marcin if there is any evidence of copper-working at Farkha - he replied ‘not yet’. In reply to Mostafa Nor el-Din who mentioned evidence from Kafr Hassan Daoud, Marcin replied that he’s only able to compare his material with that from published sites. Jeff is asking if there are any tombs at Farkha where there was access to the burial chamber after the superstructure was built. Joanna says there is no evidence yet for this. Penny asked about a big pile of bones and what its function might have been. It seems to have been from a feast - most of the bones were pig, though there were also some cats!
Marcin Czarnowitz is noting how fortunate the team is at Tell el-Farkha to be able to study contemporaneous settlements and cemeteries at the same site. This is very helpful for his research into the foreign relations of early Egypt.
At Tell el-Farkha excavations have revealed many sherds of imported vessels, used as containers for the commodities the Egyptians were importing from the Levant. Investigation of the wavy-handles of large jars under UV light has enabled their points of origin to be identified.
Sherds from imported storage vessels.
Marcin is describing the analysis of the copper alloy vessels found at the site, including the needles with a loop handle, which are typical of Delta sites. This type of needle is also found along the Sinai coast and from as far away as Ashkalon.
Most of the imports at Farkha come from sites in southern Israel but some are from as far north as southern Lebanon. Marcin considers that the Egyptian presence in southern Levant at this early period was transitory for trade, rather than as permanent settlement.
Joanna Debowska-Ludwin is now giving more details of the early mastabas on the eastern Kom at Tell el-Farkha. The oldest (Naqada IIIa/2B1) mastaba at the site (mastaba 10) is also the largest and the most monumental. It is 80m x 60m and 3m high and may have ‘palace facade’ type niches on its eastern side.
Mastaba 10 at Tell el-Farkha
A cemetery grew up around this large mastaba. Joanna is describing the protodynastic mastaba 94 which is much simpler and smaller than mastaba 10, with an offering niche on its eastern side and a smaller niche on the northern. The grave goods included two slate palettes as well as bead jewellery. Several graves (not all mastabas) contain a number of storage vessels. Burial 55 has an interesting brick enclosing wall around the mastaba proper - the gap between is filled with broken pottery and beer jars, probably for ritual purposes. This had been a very rich burial with masses of pottery, stone vessels and two fine bronze harpoons.
(From Joanna’s abstract). ‘The impressive mastaba tombs which make up the cemetery were constructed for members of a wealthy society and they demonstrate the high status of their owners. The so-called Early Dynastic graves reflect the changing political fortunes of the settlement at Tell el-Farkha but also show deeper evolution within the social structure of the young Egyptian kingdom. Although burials from this phase of the cemetery were far more diversified and usually rather poor, quite monumental mastabas were also constructed. The latest graves represent the final decline of the settlement and were only the simplest pit burials. The use of mastaba tombs at Tell el-Farkha lasted about 500 years and corresponded to the most prosperous period of the settlement. Their study makes a major contribution to our knowledge of early Egyptian burial customs and the development of typical Egyptian mastaba tombs’.
We now have the first of three talks on the Polish excavations at Tell el-Farkha in the eastern Delta. Marek Chlodnicki (joint Director with Krzystof Cialowicz) has started by describing the results of the latest work. He first covered the work of the current season on the Lower Egyptian residence on the Western Kom (Naqada IIIB) and has now moved on to work on the Central Kom where the team are investigating structures identified by magnetic scanning.
The magnetic scan of part of the central Kom
A building with massive mud-brick walls (1.5-1.7m thick) dated to Naqada III B was discovered there. Another trench for verification of the results of geophysical research opened on the north-western slope of the kom, revealing a round building 7m in diameter on the interior, and with a 2m thick wall. It had been destroyed at the beginning of the Third Dynasty.Marek has now moved on to the excavations on the eastern Kom, next to the mastaba discovered in 2004 (a mastaba). The team found a group of rooms bordered on the north by a thick wall and a similar wall was also found to the south of the mastaba
During the lunch break most people took the opportunity to sit out in the sun in the lovely garden of the British Council, and we’ve just started the last session. We’ve been particularly pleased that Frofessor Fayza Haikel, a very long-term member of the EES, has been able to attend the Workshop. Jo Rowland kindly took this photo of Professor Haikel with me and Aidan.
Veit Vaelske has asked Mohamed el-Sharkawy about the date of the mausoleum at Quesna - it is Graeco-Roman. Gregory Marouard has asked why the decision was made to unwrap the mummy. Mohamed said that since this was the first intact mummy they had found, they wished to learn as much as they could about the deceased. Salima Ikram is pointing out that sometimes burials can be lifted intact but often this turns out not to be the case and as much as possible needs to be recorded in situ in case the burial does not survive being lifted. Joanne Rowland also endorsed this practice - burials can be consolidated if possible for further investigations in laboratory conditions.
Jeff is noting that he can give anyone interested the EES Delta Survey numbers for any sites discussed this morning. In reply to Joanne Rowland, Jeff has said that, where they exist, SCA site numbers are also given in the Delta Survey database.
Mohamed Kenawi is now talkingabout the work of the Italian Mission at Kom el-Ahmar in the western Delta.
During the Beheira Survey Project conducted between 2008 and 2011 in the western Delta, eight sites of wine production, seven sites of olive oil production, four amphorae workshops, and probably Metelis, the capital of the nomos, were discovered and documented, in addition to sixty-six other sites. In 2012 excavation and survey started at Kom el-Ahmar (Kom Wasit) which was the ancient city of Metalis, abandoned in the tenth century AD.
Mohamed has handed over to Valentina Gasperini who is describing the preliminary results of the study of the ceramic material found during the first season in 2012. 62% of the ceramics are amphorae and 77% of the amphorae are Late Roman. Most of the non-amphora sherds are utilitarian wares, though there are some fine wares such as African Sigillata and Egyptian Sigillata.
African sigillata sherds from Kom el-Ahmar.
There are also some decorated Coptic sherds and some of Polychromatic Fayum Ware (AD 850-1100).
We have now a paper from Ahmed Deraz and Mohamed el-Sharkawy on SCA discoveries in the Quesna archaeological area, about 2km from modern Quesna and 12km from Shebin el-Kom in Minufiyeh Governorate. The Faculty of Arts of Minufiyeh University has resumed excavations (stopped in 2009) of the brick-built mausoleum which has burials of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods, overlaid by Roman burials. By completing the excavation of the mausoleum, the team hoped to find evidence of other structures, study burial patterns and positions, and research the use and development of the mausoleum. Work started on the north side of the mausoleum on 3 November 2012.
The north side of the mausoleum at Quesna.
Much of the brickwork of the chambers of the mausoleum has been badly damaged, or even destroyed in places. The chambers were originally well-built of mud-bricks with arched doorways, some of which were later blocked with bricks. Chamber 5 has a well-preserved limestone sarcophagus, containing a mummy.
The mummy in chamber 5.
When the wrappings were removed, the burial was found to be a woman with her arms folded at waist-level. Other burials were found, but in simple graves, not in stone sarcophagi.
Dr Joanne Rowland is now describing the work of the EES Minufiyeh Survey Project. The project started as an EES Delta Survey project from 2005-07 surveying sites in Minufiyeh Governorate and since then has been based at the important site of Quesna, while still investigating other tells in the area. Before the EES work started Quesna was believed to be a very late site until the discovery a few years ago of a mud-brick mastaba of the late 3rd-early 4th dynasties.
Jo is looking first at the Ptolemaic/Roman cemetery where work started in 2007, describing in detail a simple pit burial of a young man, with many plaster amulets on the body. The human remains are being studied by Scott Haddow and will be included in the first Excavation Memoir on the Quesna work which will be published by the EES during 2013. Jo now showing a multiple burial, T9.
The multiple burial T9.
Jo has now moved on to describe the falcon necropolis which was originally excavated by the SCA and where an eastern extension was found by the EES team last year.
The Falcon Necropolis.
Although no intact mummies have yet been found by the team, there are many raptor bones and also the remains of shrews. Ceramics from the gallery include many sherds of the jars in which the mummies were placed and saucers which were used as lids. Some seal impressions have also been found, referring to nearby Athribis where the Ptolemaic priest Djed-Hor, known from statues in the Egyptian Museum, officiated.
Finally Jo is describing fieldwork at the prehistoric site at Khatatbah where the team started to conduct a survey in 2009 and 2011. This season the survey area has been extended. Referring back to earlier papers, Jo pointed out that even between 2011 and 2013 there has been encroachment on the site by fields and canals.
Like Robert, Jo has been using CORONA images to see how the site has changed since the 1960s.
Just had to do my usual EES event sheepdog act to encourage people, gently, to abandon their croissants, pastries and conversations for the second part of the morning session. Just about ready to start.
We’re staying at Buto for the last talk before the coffee break. Gregory Marouard is giving, on behalf of Pascale Ballet and her team, a review of the work of the French mission at Buto. Excavation from 2008 to 2011 uncovered a bath complex, with both Greek-style tholos baths and Roman-style baths with hypocausts (see also recent article in EA). The hypocaust was originally excavated by the EES team in the 1960s and much had been destroyed before 2008.
In 2011 the expedition began a new excavation, in cooperation with the Kafr es-Sheikh Inspectorate of the SCA, on a Ptolemaic bath complex near the village of Mohammed el-Baz. This contains a double bath, with latrines and a heating system for the water.
The Ptolemaic double bath complex.
Another new excavation is on Kom A where two test areas, totalling 11,000 square metres are being surveyed to help define the limits of the city.
Robert Schiestl is surveying and documenting archaeological sites around the major ancient city of Buto and has contributed articles to ‘Egyptian Archaeology’ on his fieldwork. In the first part of his talk he will concentrate on two case studies and in the second part, put the results into a more general context.
The two case studies show both the difficulties and the importance of survey work in the Delta. Of five sites he initially investigated (based on old maps) only one is still visible. Robert points out that no-longer-visible sites could still exist below the fields, but he doubts this. He is also saying that some of the ‘ancient tells’ marked on old maps may never have been archaeological sites but just mounds of earth gathered together for other reasons.
Robert is now describing Kom el-Gir (see also his article in the just-published EA 42!). Since 2011 Tomasz Herbich and his colleagues have been undertaking magnetometer surveys with very good results.
The scans show a large mud-brick enclosure, almost certainly for a temple, and outside it, at the south-east, what may be the corner of a Roman fortress.
The magnetometer survey at Kom el-Gir
Robert has now turned his attention to ‘flattened tells’ where their shape is only recognisable by unusually-shaped fields. To study these tells, the CORONA satellite images of 1968 which are now available are invaluable as they show the extent of tells 35 years ago before modern building development and the extension of agricultural activity.
Jeff has invited questions/comments on the first two papers and Aiman el-Ashmawy is giving very useful up-to-date information on some of the sites mentioned - excavations carried out, loss of sites to fish farms, etc. He has pointed out that not all the sites are registered yet by the SCA and it is important that these are recognised and international teams invited to work at them. The destruction of the tells can not be stopped completely as the need for land is so great but it can be slowed and the sites should be recorded first. Aiman is describing a Tell Abu Galal, half of which has already been destroyed for fish farms.
Assayed el-Banna is describing the effects of climate change and their impact on Egypt in general and on the Delta governorate of Kafr es-Sheikh in particular.
Map of Kafr es-Sheikh Governorate.
Assayad has said that if sea levels rose by:
half a metre, one third of Kafr es-Sheikh would be submerged
one metre, half the governorate would disappear
three metres, the whole of Kafr es-Sheikh would be under water
In even the ‘best-case’ scenario (a rise of only half a metre) twelve ancient sites would be lost.
Assayed is stressing the need to institute a proper programme to record and classify the sites before they are lost - assessing their state, date and preservation, establishing priorities and following up initial surveys with excavation. This will require organisation and funding. International cooperation will be necessary
This morning’s session is being chaired by Jeff and he’s just introduced the first speaker Ayman Wahby (giving a paper jointly with Karim Abdel Fatah) on some of the lesser known sites in Dakahlia Governorate including some Jeff and I have visited for the Delta Survey, so it is good to see them again in their present state. Ayman says that Tell el-Balasun is now several metres lower than when we visited it.
Ayman has described sites near Sinballawein and Dikirnis and is stressing their endangered state with land being taken for agriculture and building.
Karim Abdel Fatah is now describing the site of Tell Ibn Salam which is within Lake Manzala and can only be visited by boat. He has moved on to sites we know near Balamun - Tell Halbouny where a granite stela of Ramesses II, dedicated to the temple of Balamun, was found many years ago, and Tell Murad.
Finally Karim described the site of Kom Niqeiza, close to the boundary of Dakahlia and Kafr es-Sheikh. The site was used by the military until recently and still has visible bunkers.
Lovely morning in Cairo today - sunny and warm so could get hot later. Fortunately we’re in the air-conditioned ‘villa’ at the Council. People are now gathering for the start of the second day and presentations are being uploaded onto Aidan’s laptop.
Assayed el-Banna and Aidan.
Joanna Debowska-Ludwin, Marcin Czarnowitz and Robert Schiestl waiting to upload their presentations.
Ready for another day’s papers: Joanne Rowland, Penny Wilson, Geoffrey Tassie and Omer Farouk.
In reply to Robert Schiestl, Cezary Baka, gave his view that early settlement in the north-western Delta was perhaps of a more transitory nature. Penny Wilson agrees that there were certainly people living in the north-west Delta, with Buto as the main urban focus in the area. Cezary has pointed out that more exploration is needed to identify early sites.Penny suggested Robert imagine he was the Egyptian king and had to identify different resources and plan settlements to exploit them. Robert liked the idea of being king!
Manfred Bietak started the final discussion by making observations on settlement in the Nile Delta where sites built on geziras are much easier to identify than those now buried in alluvium and he wondered if this might be a contributory factor to the apparent gaps in Old Kingdom settlement.
Manfred Bietak (right) discussing settlement patterns with Cezary Baka (left). Penny Wilson in the centre.
Our last paper of the first day is by Cezary Baka who is going to give an overview of Old Kingdom settlement in the Nile Delta. The topography of the Nile Delta was totally different in the OK with much of the present-day land in the north and east not then existing. In addition, OK sites are scarce in the north-west Delta.
Map showing the shape of the Delta in the Old Kingdom and OK sites (in red), mainly in the east.
The Nile Delta in the Old Kingdom can be divided into three main regions: in the east settlements were located on geziras as well as on the levées. In the south-western Delta often only the levées had suitable conditions for permanent settlement and this shortage of habitable ground during the flood season may have influenced settlement density. The northern Delta seems to have been much less densely settled in the Old Kingdom but the small amount of archaeological data may not signify an absence of settlements, but might indicate that it took a different form in this more swampy area.
Illustrating the swampy nature of the northern Nile Delta in the Old Kingdom.
Professor Bietak has noted that the Delta Nile mouths were fortified in the 18th Dynasty, as described on a statue of Amenhotep Son of Hapu. The actual work seems to have been under the control of Horemheb, and a buttressed wall of Horemheb has been found at Tell el-Daba near the Tuthmoside palace.
Professor Manfred Bietak is now discussing palaces and ports in the eastern Delta, especially the Near-eastern type palaces which he has excavated at Tell el-Daba and which resemble Middle Bronze Age palaces at Ebla. Professor Bietak believes that the ancient port of Perunefer was at Tell el-Daba (Avaris) and not at Memphis which is so far upstream that the port would be inaccessible for much of the year. For discussions by Manfred and David Jeffreys of the location of Perunefer, see: http://www.ees.ac.uk/news/index/196.html
Plan of the palaces and administrative buildings at Tell el-Daba with a reconstruction.
The BC wifi seems to have recovered from its hiccups before the tea break. Eva’s talk discussed the Nile branches close to Bubastis, how the development of the town was dictated by the rivers and canals and also looked at the early monuments at the site, including the Old Kingsom cemetery, excavated by Mohammed Bakr, and which the EES/Gottingen/SCA team is going to publish.
Veit Vaelske is now talking about terracotta so-called ‘Persian rider’ figures (with tall headdresses), fragments of which have been found at Tell Basta.
(The rest of this post has been removed at the request of the speaker)
Now the first paper on Tell Basta by Aiman Ashmawy Ali of the SCA. In 2002 excavation started north of the temple enclosure on a high mound In the upper level the foundation of complete house was found with parts of three other mud-brick houses, beside a red-brick well. The houses which probably date to the 30th Dynasty or early Ptolemaic Period may belong to pre-planned settlements of Nectanebo II. In the lower level is the foundation of a large house or palace. The building is dated, by ceramic evidence, to the 26th Dynasty.
Plan with the 26th Dynasty Palace (apologies for the fuzziness)
Penny Wilson has now taken over the chair from Aidan and has introduced the first speaker of the afternoon session, Mostafa Nor el-Din who is talking about the SCA excavations at Tell el-Retaba. The work started as a rescue excavation on the route of a new highway and has revealed much information about the history of the site from the Second Intermediate Period to the Late Period.
Illustrating jewellery from a middle-class 18th Dynasty house at Tell el-Retaba.
Three years ago the SCA team discovered a 19th Dynasty tomb, lined with decorated stone walls. In 2011 a Hyksos Period cemetery, with many child burials was found.
For the final paper of the morning, Geoffrey Tassie (currently working in the EES team at Quesna) is talking about the Wadi Tumilat, one of the main access routes between Sinai and the Delta proper. Ancient canals were cut along the Wadi by, possibly, Senwosret III and/or Ramesses II with a navigable canal cut later by Necho II and Darius I, in whose reign a series of stelae were set up along the route. Settlement in the Wadi was generally believed, as a result of surveys in the nineteenth cenutry, 1930s and 1970s, to be mainly from the late Period onwards until excavations started at the large site of Kafr Hassan Daoud where Predynastic and Early Dynastic material was found.
A section of the Wadi Tumilat
The records of the KHD excavations are now all being digitised in preparation for full publication which will be in about nine volumes.
Hisham Hussein iis now describing fieldwork at Tell Kedwa, close to Tell Hebua in Sinai. The site was first investigated by an Israeli team, led by Eliezer Oren, who revealed a ‘migdol’ - a fortress. Further excavations were carried out in the 1990s and the current SCA excavations were initiated in 2008 to investigate particular architectural details of the fort.
Hisham Hussein presenting his paper on SCA excavations at Tell Kedwa
Sayed Abd el-Aleem is now giving Dr Maksoud’s paper on the SCA excavations at Tell Hebua, I, Ii, III, IV - the ancient Tjarou on the ‘Ways of Horus’ in Sinai.
Sayed’s first slide showing the location of Tell Hebua
At Tell Hebua II a magnetometer survey in 2007 by Tomasz Herbich revealed an impressive mud-brick fortress which Dr Maksoud’s team has since excavated, finding reused blocks including one of Tuthmosis II.
Now the most important part of the morning - the coffee break! Catering has been done for us again by Beano’s who have provided delicious croissants and pastries. It’s a first opportunity for people to mingle and chat - Jeff is talking to Inspectors from Sinai who have been excavating at Tell Dafana .
Great turn-out here today - I think just about all the people who said they were coming have come, plus some we weren’t expecting (but who are, of course, very welcome). We’ve had to send for more chairs.
Tomasz Herbich is now describing, on behalf of himself and Irene Forstner-Muller, the very impressive results of geophysical scanning at Tell el-Daba where the area scanned is now the largest for any archaeological site. Different investigative methods have been used to build up a picture of the complex layout of the ancient city, with settlement and administrative areas and, most importantly, identifying the ancient courses of the river and its harbours.
Fascinating talk from Manuela Lehmann on Late/Ptolemaic town houses, comparing those she is studying at Tell el-Daba and Tell Basta with ancient examples found all over Egypt and with modern multi-storey houses in Yemen. In antiquity in Egypt the maximum number of floors was six with three-four being most common. Higher floors of different houses may have been linked by bridges as in modern houses in Aswan and as shown in depictions at Pompei. There are also many parallels for particular features, such as windows and internal cupboards in today’s mud-brick houses in Sudan and Egypt. Manuela’s research shows the value of looking at all available evidence, from contemporary and old excavations, from modern parallels throughout the region, not just in Egypt, and in ancient paintings and mosaics, such as that at Palaestrina which also shows town houses.
The SCA/EES Delta Survey Workshop is now under way with the first paper, by Irene Forstner Muller and Chiara Reali, on the excavations at Tell el-Daba (Avaris). We’ve changed the programme around as the foul weather here today (strogn winds blowing in much dust from the west - very low visibility) delayed some speakers who were coming from Sinai and the Delta. Everyone has now arrived and, after resolving various technical problems - and finally finding out the wifi password (!) - things should go smoothly from now on.
The morning started with a welcome by the EES Chair, Dr Aidan Dodson on behalf of the Society and the SCA. Unfortunately Dr Mohammed Abd el-Maksoud is unable to be with us today so his paper on Tell Hebua will be given by his colleague, Sayed Abd el-Aleem.