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The Qubbet el-Hawa Research Project 
Dr Martin Bommas, University of Birmingham

Since 2015, the joint University of Birmingham/ EES Qubbet el-Hawa Research Project (QHRP) works in the Northern necropolis of the OK-MK necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa, at a site that has never been investigated before. This paper presents an update on our current work, problems and priorities. Special focus will be laid on finds made during our most recent field work season in April 2017.

 

The massive fossil funerary collection of Qau el-Kebir - Seth's bones rediscovered?
Dr Diane Johnson, Open University

In 1924 a team led by Guy Brunton and Flinders Petrie excavated a massive quantity of fossil bones and carved ivories, from burial shaft 562, cemetery 400, Qau el-Kebir, Middle Egypt. They estimated it comprised of two to three tonnes of bones and ivory, including significant amounts of hippopotamus. Nearby an offering stela dedicated to Seth was found, depicting him as a hippopotamus. Petrie and Brunton interpreted the bones and ivory as offerings to Seth, evidence of a never before reported local Seth worship practise.
Many of these bones were sent to the UK for further study, but the size of the collection and extensive range of species present within it hampered attempts to gain a better understanding of it. The collection was transferred through numerous institutions over decades, but the planned comprehensive study of this collection was never completed. With time records of its storage location became lost and its further study became impossible.
Recently the bones were located in storage of the Natural History Museum, London and in 2015 were moved to the Museum for sorting. Study and analysis of these bones by a range of modern technologies, including scanning electron microscopy, x-ray CT imaging, mass spectrometry, carbon dating, plus other techniques, will be presented to give a better understanding of the bones with implications for their ancient Egyptian interpretation.

The landscape evolution of the Holocene Nile Delta – links with the emergence of the Egyptian State
Benjamin Pennington, University of Southampton

A geoarchaeological model linking the evolving fluvial landscape of the Nile Delta to changing settlement patterns, subsistence strategies, and social developments culminating in the emergence of the Ancient Egyptian State is devised for the period c. 6000–2500 BC. The changing palaeo-landscapes of the delta are established through the 4D modelling of data from over 1600 geological borehole records, radiocarbon, OSL and pottery dates; data which reveal major shifts in the character and extent of different environments across the delta plain during this period. These changing landscapes necessarily need to be considered in any discussion of contemporary social developments. Links between the changing environments and settlement patterns are established through GIS-based models, while shifts in the availability of nutritional resources specifically predicted by the landscape model are verified using zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical data. Social and political developments culminating in the formation of the State are reinterpreted based on the environmental model. Geoarchaeological evidence further suggests that a similar model may be applicable in considering the contemporary evolution of other archaeologically important lower alluvial systems in the mid-Holocene: the Huang He, the Indus Valley and Lower Mesopotamia.

Accessing the inaccessible: Detailed ‘off-site’ archaeological survey using satellite imagery and GIS at the Hatnub travertine quarries, Egypt.
Dr Hannah Pethen

This paper describes the first investigation of the entire Hatnub quarrying landscape through an ‘off-site’ survey undertaken using high resolution satellite imagery and Geographic Information System (GIS) software, which permitted previously unsurveyed archaeological features to be recorded and analysed in great detail. The high proportion of archaeological features recorded in the ‘off-site’ survey that were also present in field-survey data demonstrated that the process was generally accurate and the resulting digital plans provide a permanent record of an imperilled landscape at a level of detail that has not previously been attempted using ‘off-site’ survey. By combining the ‘off-site’ survey with data from fieldwork and GIS analyses, it has been possible to study the distribution, visibility, gradient and clustering of archaeological remains along the Hatnub quarry road, to better understand how movement around the site was facilitated and controlled, how resources were transported after quarrying and what influenced the location of roads, shelters, cairns and guard-posts. Understanding the social and logistical aspects of the quarry landscape will contextualise the archaeological and epigraphic remains from the quarries and reveal how the formulae of quarrying inscriptions relate to the practicalities of travertine extraction. 

 

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