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.
To end her talk Jo is describing a new survey her team has just started this season in Imbaba Governorate, surveying sites between Khatatbah and Merimde Beni Salama and carrying out auger-drilling.
Auger-drilling for the just-started Imbaba Governorate Survey.
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.