The Society's expedition to Minufiyeh Governorate in the Nile Delta, direct by Dr Joanne Rowland of the Free University, Berlin, will be resuming work next week, with a survey at the desert-fringe site of Khatabtah. This area was first briefly visited by members of the Minufiyeh Archaeological Survey in 2008 with a follow-up reconnaissance survey in 2009, which established the location of many findspots – including apparently undisturbed areas – with lithic assemblages ranging in date from the Palaeolithic to, possibly, as late as the Old Kingdom. The fieldwork planned for summer 2011 will begin a systemic survey, including recording the location of, and full collection and analysis of the total content of selected grid squares in findspots located during the 2009 season. Rebecca Phillipps of Auckland University, New Zealand, will lead the survey, having established a successful methodology in Australia which has already been applied to prehistoric sites of the Fayum, and having worked on the prehistoric lithics with Penny Wilson for the EES/University of Durham mission at Sais.
View of the site at Khatatbah
The season will also include a GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey at Quesna, by Dr Kris Strutt of Southampton University. In 2009, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) was trialled at Quesna and the method worked extremely well at detecting mud-brick features down to a depth of 5m below the surface. As such, if there are subsidiary, or other mud-brick structures in the areas around the mastaba tomb excavated in 2010 (see EA 38, pp.0-13), or directly to the south (just north of the falcon gallery), it is unlikely that the magnetic survey would have detected them especially if they do not contain large quantities of ceramic vessels. The otherwise complete lack of material dating to the Old Kingdom, combined with the fact that the Old Kingdom mastaba tomb is located on the northern edge of the gezira (the most threatened area of the site due to sand quarrying) makes this work imperative. GPR survey is the quickest and most cost-effective means of establishing this information – the only other way would be to conduct numerous test pits, which would be very expensive and in all probability could completely miss other, smaller, burials.
In September Jo will also be directing a field school at Quesna for local SCA inspectors and students from the University of Minufiyeh so she will have a lot of exciting news to report during the season and will again be sending back regular news updates: http://minufiyeh.tumblr.com/ To make sure you keep up-to-date with the latest EES news from Minufiyeh, click on the RSS button at the top of the tumblr page to be notified whenever Jo posts a new entry.
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