The Delta Survey started as a personal project of Dr Jeffrey Spencer, plotting on a map of the Delta the locations of as many ancient mounds as could be identified, either from published sources or from personal visits. In 1997 the project was adopted by the Egypt Exploration Society and has since been published on our website. The online records of sites are continuously updated as new information becomes available and to date over 700 Delta tells are listed and described.

The EES Delta Survey aims to record as much information as possible on ancient sites in the Nile Delta which are under threat from encroaching agriculture and the demands of an ever-increasing population. In 2007 the Delta Survey was adopted by the British Academy as an ‘approved project’ and has also been presented in GoogleEarth.

Development of the Delta Survey

This reference collection of archaeological sites in the Egyptian Nile Delta was adopted by the  Society in 1997. It was accepted as a British Academy Research Project in 2007. The original core of the information was collected by Jeffrey Spencer over many years, later supplemented with contributions from others, acknowleged below. The purpose of the Society's Delta Survey was to assess the current condition of the lesser-known archaeological sites in Lower Egypt, initially by visual inspection, and to combine the results with information from published and unpublished sources. Well-known sites and those which have been the subject of extensive excavation are not considered a priority for this project since they are well-documented in other sources of reference. They have been simply listed without extensive comment, with linked pages of bibliography.Many archaeological sites in the Delta were noted in the early days of Egyptology. They appear on the map of the Déscription de L'Egypte and numerous editions of maps produced at various scales by the Egyptian Government Survey of Egypt. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, brief reports on inspections of sites for the Service des Antiquités were published, particularly by Foucart, Daressy and Edgar. New maps of the Delta were produced by the Egyptian Government Survey Authority in 1996 at a scale of 1:50,000, although the actual surveying was done in 1992-3. They have value in showing the changes brought about through development, particularly many new asphalt roads, although these maps are also now well out of date. Also shown are the regions of drained marshland in which sites have been lost, especially around the edges of the coastal lakes where land has been converted for fish-farming. Sites are indicated as white areas, but not named so consistently as on older Survey of Egypt maps. Errors in place names have been noted on the 1996 maps and a few tells which are known to exist are not marked at all. Verification through on-site visits is still necessary for many locations, but the increasing availability of high resolution satellite photography has provided another valuable resource, particularly accessible through Google Earth ©. The addition of an option to view not only the most recent images but also historic ones has been an important improvement, especially for the Survey, allowing the changing condition (usually progressive disappearance) of an archaeological site to be monitored. Users of the EES Delta Survey webpages may note that all the direct links to Google Earth have been removed (as of July 2016), because the constant updating of satellite imagery means that the links were not going to the most appropriate image, but to the most recent one. So if it is wished to view satellite images of any site, simply type the latitude and longitude coordinates into Google Earth. The presentation of a selected group of sites in Google Earth, with associated notes and photographs, has been retained and may be accessed from the start page of the Delta Survey.

Since the EES survey was initiated the Egyptian Government has established the Egyptian Antiquities Information System for site documentation (http://www.eais.org.eg/), which is intended to become a Department of the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) from late 2007. At present their data is strong on site location and property boundaries but archaeological information is being added. The EES survey is sharing its data with the EAIS. The first major publication of the EAIS, edited by Neguib Amin, The Historical Sites of Egypt, Volume 1, Ash-Sharqiyyah Governorate, appeared in 2006 and includes material collected by the EES. The SCA has also produced through CultNat a set of four colour brochures for the Delta with site reference numbers and rough maps.

There have been two elements to the work of the Survey. The first stage of fieldwork consists of visits to record the present condition of sites in the region, which mounds still remain and which have been levelled to agriculture or overbuilt. Details being recorded include the extent of the sites, surface features, the date of any surface pottery, occurrence of stone blocks and the degree of recent attrition. The second stage is a follow-up visit to more promising sites for full mapping surveys or geophysical investigation. On the basis of these, a few sites have been chosen for limited excavation. The following colleagues have been generous in providing information: Manfred Bietak, Edwin van den Brink, Renée Friedman, François Leclère, Christopher Kirby, Karla Kroeper, Marie-Dominique Nenna, Joanne Rowland, Steven Snape, Neal Spencer and Penelope Wilson. The staff of the Supreme Council for Antiquities have been most helpful in facilitating visits to various sites, and we wish to thank particularly Mohamed Abdel Fattah, Mohamed Abdel Maksud, Sabri Abdel-Aziz Khater, Ibrahim Soliman, Atef Abu Dahap and Mohamed Kamal Ibrahim. For the considerable amount of data collected for the Delta Survey by Penny Wilson, see now www.dur.ac.uk/penelope.wilson/Delta/Survey.html 

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