The Third Delta Survey Workshop
In the order in which papers appeared on the programme for the Workshop.
Tell Hebua (Tjarou) I, II, III. Defense System on the eastern gate of Egypt
Mohamed Abd el-Maqsoud
Tell Hebua is situated on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal, in north-east Sinai, about 4km from the city Al-Qantara East. The three sites at Hebua represent an agglomeration located on the edge of a paleo-lagoon. Excavation carried out recently has revealed a defense system represented by fortresses reinforced with towers and surrounding administrative and religious buildings, with palaces and domestic structures of the New Kingdom and Late Period. Tell Hebua II, which is 750m south-east of Hebua I, has yielded a massive structure representing a fortified city and containing a series of magazines and a religious complex of the New Kingdom. Hebua III which lies about 1km south-east of Hebua II, includes domestic structures with many silos and bread ovens, with serpentine walls and many ox burials. The discovery of fortified cities at Hebua (Tjarou) has confirmed inscriptions on the walls of Karnak of the reign of Sety I who described the fortresses and installations of North Sinai.
Tell el-Kedwa (Qedua): Saite Fortresses on Egypt’s Eastern Frontier.
Hesham M Hussein and Sayed Abd el-Aleem
The excavation at Tell al-Kedwa was undertaken by an Egyptian archaeological mission (2008). The site of Tell al-Kedwa lies on flat ground 25km north-east of Al-Qantara East. Tell al-Kedwa was occupied by a military fortification which dated to the Saite Period. Previous excavations had revealed a massive square mud-brick fortress 200m x 200m. The SCA excavation showed that there was more than one fortress at Tell al-Kedwa. Two forts of the Saite Period have been found; the earlier structure (fort A) dates from the beginning of the Saite Period, the later one (fort B) dates from the second half of the same period.
The Wadi Tumilat in Antiquity and Today
Two major surveys of the Wadi Tumilat have been undertaken, the first by Schott in the late 1920s and the other by Holladay in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These surveys revealed the presence of several multi-period sites in the western Wadi Tumilat but their conclusions were that the Wadi Tumilat only had major occupation from the Late Period and only minor traces of earlier occupation could be discerned. The discovery of the large Predynastic to Early Dynastic Periods site of Kafr Hassan Dawood in the late 1980s challenged this perceived knowledge. The continued analysis of the excavated material remains indicates that the site was occupied from 3,400 BC to 2,700 BC and possibly earlier, making it contemporary with earliest remains at Minshat Abu Omar. Analysis of the later remains at the site, which were preliminarily dated to Late Period to Ptolemaic also indicate that the occupation continued for longer. The results of the current analysis of both periods, relating to the excavations in the 1990s, will be presented.
Tell el-Dab'a/Avaris/Recent Results
Irene Forstner-Müller and Pamela Rose
Investigation of the landscape at Tell el-Dab’a/Avaris (under the excavation concession of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Cairo branch, since 1966), has long been an integral element of the research, and began before landscape archaeology became popular. The focus of this paper is on area R/III where excavations were undertaken from 2010-12 to combat the ongoing destruction of archaeological remains by modern agricultural activity. The area was divided, by streets running from north-north-west to south-south-east and converging towards the south, into several insulae. Two different quarters of Avaris could be distinguished, and thus provided the opportunity to conduct a study on the function of individual areas in the central part of the town. In the western part (an administrative quarter consisting of one block) spacious buildings dating to the later Second Intermediate Period were discovered, while the eastern district, with narrower side streets, is a typical domestic town quarter with a layout common at Avaris. In contrast to the western district, tombs were found within this domestic quarter, as was usual in domestic quarters at Avaris in the Second Intermediate Period. Besides other finds over 1,000 sealing impressions were found in this area: including some with royal names such as that of King Khyan of the 15th Dynasty.
Skylines, bridges and mud in the Delta and elsewhere
In this lecture I would like to present the latest results of the ongoing research at Tell el-Dab’a into developments of the Late Period and early Ptolemaic Period, when, as at many other sites in the Delta, the pattern of the settlement changes dramatically compared to earlier periods due to a new type of architecture in Egypt. This type is also found in other places in the ancient Near East and is partly still in use today. An ethnoarchaeological comparison between the ancient Delta and modern Yemen gives surprisingly fruitful insights into this building type, its construction and the ways people deal with this architecture.
Small harbours in the Nile Delta: the case of Tell el-Dab’a
Tomasz Herbich and Irene Forstner-Müller
The basis for the reconstruction of the historic landscape in the region of Tell el-Dab’a is geomorphological research carried out in the 1990s by J. Dorner. Magnetic survey since 1999 has helped to define the position of the Pelusiac Nile branch, outline the floodplain limits, define precisely the locations of settled areas and their layouts, and identify possible locations of the main ports. Moreover, the precise picture of the shoreline provided by the survey allowed the identification of what may have been small harbours, two of which - in the area of Ezbet il-Ezzawin and Ezbet Mehesin - are the theme of this paper. Magnetic mapping suggests that the waterfronts were artificially formed and clearly show a vacant space between the waterfront and the settlement edge. The magnetic image of sediments filling the riverbed may indicate that it had been deepened. Electro-resistivity survey was carried out using the vertical electrical sounding method and the resulting measurements support the hypothesis of the artificial formation of waterfronts, demonstrating that materials of a high resistivity (most probably with a high content of sand or gravel) were used in their construction. Test drilling in Ezbet il-Ezzawin showed the presence of bricks with a high sand content.
Egyptian rescue excavation in Tell el-Retaba
Mostafa Nor el-Din
Tell el-Retaba is a major dynastic-period site in northern Egypt and like many other sites in Egypt it is under constant threat of destruction. An asphalt road linking Cairo with the city of El-Qantara was built through Tell el-Retaba some years ago and current development of this road into a multi-lane highway was approved by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities on the condition that full archaeological excavations should first take place. The salvage project covered an area approximately 230m long (north-south) and 10m wide (east-west) and the rescue excavation has added important new data on the long settlement history of the site from the Second Intermediate Period until the Late Period.
The SCA excavation at Tell Basta 2002
Aiman Ashmawy Ali
In 2002 the SCA carried out an excavation in the area to the north of the great temple of Bastet and east of the excavation site of 2001. It is a high mound with a pointed top which slopes sharply in its northern part. In the upper level the foundation of complete house was discovered and parts of three other mud-brick houses, beside a well built of red bricks. The houses (probably 30th Dynasty or early Ptolemaic Period) seemed to be laid out in regular orthogonal plan indicating pre-planned settlements which might have belonged to workers involved in the temple activities of Nectanebo II at Bubastis. The northern part of the site is 2m deep and excavation here uncovered parts of a large building, most probably a palace or a large house, beside two earlier silos. The building is dated, by ceramic evidence, to the 26th Dynasty. A layer of burned ash was discovered around the silos and between the walls - similar to the units with burnt ash discovered in 2001 within the buildings to the west, which represent magazines. The discovery of ash in the magazines added to our knowledge about ancient measures to protect the grain and control insects and mites, by using ash, mud and sand.
Shedding new light on the tales of Herodotus: the hydrogeography of Bubastis and its hinterland
The famous description of Herodotus about the Temple of Bastet at Bubastis focuses on the existence of two canals (the ‘Isheru’ or sacred lake) surrounding the temple, transforming it into an island. These canals were fed by the Nile branch which passed very close to Bubastis. Previously the account of Herodotus seemed to be the only available source for the existence of the canals, but recent research at the site has produced archaeological evidence for them. They formed the core of a sacred landscape, built for the cult of Bastet. However, the Isheru of Bubastis have to be considered as only a part of the picture of the hydrogeography of the city and its surrounding territory - the situation of Bubastis adjacent to two main Nile branches of the Delta, and its evolution, is strongly connected to the existence of access to those waterways. Any attempt to reconstruct the history of the city needs to be based on the investigation of its hydrogeography: the course of the Nile branches, artificial canals and the possible location of the harbour of Bubastis.
‘A horse so prancing is indeed a thing of beauty’. On ‘rider’ terracottas from Tell Basta
During various excavations in Lower Egypt clay statuettes have been found, consisting of separately formed horses and mounted bearded riders. The distinctive appearance has led not only to different identifications, but also to ethnic interpretations. Common are appellations such as ‘Scythians’ or ‘Persian Riders’ whereby a connection with a multi-ethnic Nile Delta is implied. This reading might be supported by the dating of the figurines to the third century BC, in the Egyptian Late Period, separating the type from Egyptian coroplastic production during the later Hellenistic Period or the Roman Period. The Tell Basta Project so far has found about 65 fragments of horse-and-rider-figurines of this iconographic pattern; enough material to assess in comparison with previous discussions and to try to establish a classification for this specific terracotta group.
On some palaces and ports in the eastern Delta: a contribution to historical geography.
This paper tries to assess the strategic importance of the eastern Delta by the position and character of palaces at the easternmost Nile branch from the Middle Kingdom to the Ramesside Period. It also tries to put the palatial quarters into the context of the historical geography of the eastern Delta.
Old Kingdom Settlement in the Nile Delta: an overview
The Old Kingdom in the Nile Delta is much less well-attested than many later or even earlier periods. Since there are still too few sites where Old Kingdom remains have been identified and properly studied, the aim of this presentation is not to propose even a hypothetic reconstruction of the settlement network but to comment on the geographic distribution of those sites which are known. A map of Old Kingdom Delta sites shows a great disproportion in settlement density and types of archaeological remains, which can not be explained only by the distribution of research projects. The Nile Delta in the Old Kingdom was quite different from its modern state in aspects of its geography and environmental conditions and can be divided into three main regions: in the eastern Delta developed urban settlements were located on geziras as well as on the levées. In the south-western Delta very often only the levées had suitable conditions for permanent settlement and the small amount of ground which was habitable 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.
Some little-known archaeological sites in Dakahlia Governorate
Ayman Wahby and Karim Abdel Fattah
The aim of our paper is to shed light on some lesser-known archaeological sites in the governorate of Dakahlia: Tell el-Kabir, about 4km to the north of El-Kurdi, in Ezbet el-Khudery; Tell el-Balasun, south-east of El-Kurdi on the road of Shelbaya, in Ezbet el-Bakry (the tell itself is located in Ezbet Salib); Tell el-Khereba, one of the registered archaeological sites of el-Sinbellawein - a few red bricks and pottery sherds are distributed on the tell; Tell el-Lugga, about 20km south-east of Sinbellwein and about 5km from Tell el-Farkha, near Ezbet Wahby; Kom el-Hammamat - one of the registered archaeological sites of Bilqeis, together with Kom Nuqyza and Tell Yetwal wa Yaqsur; Tell Ibn Salam, located in El-Menzala lake which surrounds it on all sides; Tell Halbouny and Tell Murad which are archaeological sites in Shirbin together with Tell el-Balamun - they are near the village of El-Atrash; Tell el-Dahab, south of Dikirnis and covered with grass, fragments of pottery and shells; Tell el-Hufya in Beni Ebeid: Kom Niqeiza, also called Tell el-Qa’da, and situated at the limit of Dakahlia governorate near Kafr el-Sheikh - it is covered with fragments of pottery, shells and red bricks.
Archaeological tells in Kafr Ash-Sheikh Governorate which are liable to vanish due to global climatic changes: a research paper on the management of archaeological sites
This paper aims to draw attention to many recent alerts from international and local institutes, warning of the seriousness of sea-level rise due to global climate change all over the world. The impact on Egypt could be severe, and in Kafr Ash-Sheikh Governorate these changes (if they happen) will result in the disappearance of many archaeological tells. This paper proposes a survey project to study endangered tells and to decide how we will face this problem which surely will require the collaboration of authorities - including the Ministry of State for Antiquities - to study the consequences of climate change and to devise the needed careful preventive measures to avoid devastating effects on the archaeological tells close to the sea in Delta areas. The basic idea of the project is to prepare an urgent salvage plan to address the negative impacts expected on archaeological tells in Kafr Ash-Sheikh Governorate which will be endangered by the effects of climate change. A three-phase plan of action is proposed: (1) conducting preliminary archaeological surveys of all archaeological tells within the endangered area, making use of the SCA datasheet; (2) developing a rescue excavation plan and identifying the equipment needed and finally (3) carrying out the excavations.
The Regional Survey around Buto (Tell el-Farain), western Delta: results 2011-12
In 2011 and 2012 the Regional Survey around Buto (Tell el-Farain), conducted by the German Archaeological Institute Cairo, focused its investigations on areas in the vicinity of Buto. Work was conducted in fields north-east of Buto in areas today used as agricultural land and on the freestanding tell of Kom el-Gir, about 4km north-east of Buto. The complete loss of small ancient sites, marked as tells on early Survey of Egypt maps and often still detectable on 40 year old satellite images (Corona) can be observed. These sites have almost entirely disappeared below the current surface. Magnetometric prospection at the freestanding site of Kom el-Gir has revealed a Graeco-Roman settlement.
Recent works on the late periods at Buto (2011-12)
Gregory Marouard (on behalf of Pascale Ballet, Sylvie Dhennin, Guy Lecuyot, Gregory Marouard and Bérangère Redon)
In collaboration with the German Institute of Archaeology (Cairo) and the MSA (Inspectorate of Kafr el-Sheikh), and supported by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (Paris), IFAO (Cairo) and the Centre of Alexandrian Studies (Alexandria), the University of Poitiers has concentrated its recent fieldwork (2011-12) in two main directions. Firstly, investigating the evolution of the city through a new method of extensive survey mapping in 2012 on an area over 11,000 m2 in the northern part of Kôm A. One of the first aims of this survey was to highlight, for the Kom A area initially, the limits of the town of Buto during the late phases of its occupation, from the Late Period to the beginning of the Islamic Period. Secondly, studies on the Hellenistic and Roman innovations of the bath buildings in sector P10 (Ptolemaic to the Roman times) where the EES worked in the 1960s, and (in collaboration with the MSA Inspectorate of Kafr el-Sheikh) in the Ptolemaic baths near the modern village of Mohammed el-Baz.
Investigations in Minufiyeh province in 2011 and 2012: in Quesna and Khatatbah
Since the last workshop, work has been progressing in two key areas - Quesna, the necropolis for Athribis, and in the region of Khatatbah, which represents one of the earliest areas for temporary and permanent settlers in the Nile Delta. At Quesna, investigations have focused on the Ptolemaic-Roman cemetery and also the corridors of the sacred falcon necropolis, where there is now further inscriptional evidence to link Quesna with Athribis, and the first from the EES investigations in the falcon necropolis in particular. Excavations in the cemetery have continued to inform about the range of medical conditions and trauma which affected the population, as well as providing new information on the range of burial types. At Khatatbah, summer 2011 saw a specialised team visiting survey areas within a 5km tract of land south of the modern town. The finds range throughout the Palaeolithic Period and into the Neolithic Period and provide a starting point for a more focused survey with palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in spring 2013.
Recent discoveries in Quesna archaeological area
Ahmed Deraz and Mohammed el-Sharkawy
The Quesna archaeological area is located about 2km from modern Quesna and 12km from Shebin el-Kom in Minufiyeh Governorate. It contains many archaeological remains including: the brick-built mausoleum, the Roman coffin burials and the sacred falcon necropolis. In view of its importance, the Faculty of Arts, Minufiyeh University decided to complete the archaeological excavations (halted in 2009) in the south side of the archaeological area, of the brick-built mausoleum containing burials of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods, overlaid by Roman burials. The aims were to complete the excavation of the mausoleum, to try to find any evidence of other structures, to study burial patterns and positions, and to research Egyptian religion and architecture in the period when the mausoleum was in use. Work started on the north side of the mausoleum and has revealed additional features which will be described during the paper.
Kom al-Ahmer (Kom Wasit). The Italian Archaeological Mission in the western Nile Delta
Mohamed Kenawi, Valentina Gasperini and Georgia Marchiori
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. The rediscovery of the first documented plant nursery underscored the importance of the region from an economic perspective. As a result of the survey, the economic importance of the western Delta can be compared with Alexandria and the rest of Egypt. In 2012 excavation and survey started at Kom al-Ahmer (Kom Wasit), yielding some important finds that demonstrate the economic importance of the site. There were also significant pottery finds (fourth-seventh centuries AD) with imports accounting for 75% percent of the amphorae - the majority from Cilicia. This confirmation of direct contact with Mediterranean ports and a large unidentified structure has encouraged us to continue our excavations.
Tell el-Farkha. Excavations 2012-2013
Marek Chłodnicki & Krzysztof M. Ciałowicz
During the seasons 2012-13 excavations at Tell el-Farkha were continued on all three koms. On the Western Kom, fieldwork was carried out within the older trench that had been opened in 2006 and excavation undertaken in the layers between the oldest phases of the administrative-cultic centre (Naqada IIIB) and the top layers of burnt Naqadian residence, partly excavated in 2003-04 (Naqada IIIA-Naqada IID2/IIIA). On the Central Kom, the trench was extended to the west. A building with massive mud-brick walls (1.5m-1.7m thick) dated to Naqada III B was discovered there. A new trench for verification of the results of geophysical research was also opened on the north-western slope of the kom. A rounded building 7m in diameter on the interior, and with a 2m thick wall, was discovered there. It had been destroyed at the beginning of the Third Dynasty. The excavations in 2013 should identify the function of that construction. On the Eastern Kom, works were concentrated around the large structure found in 2004 (a mastaba). We found a group of the rooms bordered on the north by a m thick wall and a similar wall was also found to the south of the mastaba.
Early mastabas from Tell el-Farkha
At Tell el-Farkha approximately120 excavated tombs belong to three distinct cemeteries associated with the Protodynastic and Early Dynastic Periods and the Old Kingdom, and many have mastaba superstructures. The oldest mastaba at Tell el-Farkha (NIIIA2/B1) is also the largest and the most monumental. Not long after, a new necropolis was started next to, and partially over, the abandoned large mastaba. 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.
Nile Delta foreign relations during the Pre- and Early Dynastic Periods in the light of excavations at Tell el-Farkha
Since 1998 a Polish team has been excavating at Tell el-Farkha in the eastern Nile Delta. Archaeologists believe that ‘Chicken Mound’ (the meaning of the name in English) played an important role in relations between the southern Levant and Egypt. The time of the site’s greatest flourishing corresponds with the development of the so-called ‘Egyptian colony’ in Palestine. According to various surveys conducted in the Nile Delta, Tell el-Farkha was a nodal point on the route from Upper Egypt to the southern Levant, located at a crossroad with the passage leading into the Western Delta. A high number of imported pottery fragments and locally made imitations underlines the role of the site in long range trade. This paper will once again reexamine the arguments supporting this theory, showing the most important objects of Levantine provenance and locally-made imitations. The latter part of the paper will present also non-pottery evidence of contacts discussing, among other points, commodities that Tell el-Farkha was able to send to the Levant.
Naukratis (Kom Geif) 2012 field season
Jeffrey Spencer (on behalf of Ross Thomas and Alexandra Villing)
In October 2012 the first British Museum fieldwork season at Naukratis was conducted by members of the Museum’s Naukratis Project. Naukratis was the earliest and, for a period, the only Greek port in Egypt. Established in the late seventh century BC as a base for Greek (and Cypriot) traders, and the port of Sais, Naukratis was an important hub for trade and cross-cultural exchange with artefacts from the site spanning the late seventh century BC to the seventh century AD (at least). The new fieldwork complements the Project’s study of earlier excavations (by Petrie, Hogarth and Leonard/Coulson), clarifying their results and the helping to contextualise artifacts (see the open access catalogue: www.britishmuseum.org/naukratis). This research has advanced our understanding of the site, particularly of the full extent of the city, its geomorphology, harbour, structures and development over time. During the first fieldwork season an accurate map of the site was produced by recording all visible archaeological features, by tying previous excavations and surveys to our survey, and by the identification of new archaeological features through the use of magnetometry.
Download PDF from British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan (BMSAES)
Alexandria: new strategies - more discoveries
Mohamed Abd el-Meguid
Using the simple basic scientific rules for exploration has revealed more than twenty archaeological sites in Alexandria during the last two years. These sites help us to understand the complex topography of the city during its long life. They vary between rock tombs, pottery graves and simple inhumations spanning the period from the Hellenistic to Byzantine eras for pagans and Christians, especially in the eastern side of the city. The western side yielded simple and complex cisterns from the Roman Period to the Ottoman Period. In the middle of the city parts of streets have been discovered. Study of these sites, as well as of the associated objects, is in process.
Optimising Delta Survey information and targeting research problems
The collection of information from Delta sites has resulted in a wealth of data from areas of the Delta, at varying degrees of resolution. Ground survey, mapping, artefact and pottery recording allied with satellite imagery and local knowledge have produced a mosaic of material, some of which has been published (van den Brink, Bietak, Wilson & Grigoropoulos) or is publicly available through the Delta EES Survey website. This paper is an attempt to evaluate the survey data and its coverage, to measure the amount of work still to be done and to raise particular questions and problems with colleagues. 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)?
Tell Timai (ancient Thmuis)
Robert Littman and Mohamed Kenawi
An international team of scholars sponsored by the University of Hawaii has been working at Tell Timai (ancient Thmuis) since 2007. The first goal of the project is to preserve and conserve this exceptional example of a Ptolemaic and Roman period metropolis from destruction, while studying an invaluable source of history of the life, economy, and culture of Egypt in Late Antiquity. The work at Thmuis is writing a new chapter of Egyptian history in the Nile Delta. Here we present the introduction to that chapter with an archaeological overview of the history of the town and our hopes for its future.