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The Delta Survey


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’ (see further here) and has also been presented in in GoogleEarth TM

Recent Fieldwork

Tell Yetwal wa Yuksur

In 2009-10 Drs Jeffrey and Patricia Spencer, in co-operation with the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology (Tomasz Herbich, Dawid Swiech and Artur Buzak), surveyed Tell Yetwal wa Yuksur, an ancient site north of modern El-Masara. It was noted by Edgar in 1907 as having Coptic pottery, fired bricks and glass fragments on the surface of a low mound. There were also badly weathered fragments from granite columns, perhaps from a church, which are still visible on the site today. The EES fieldwork produced a magnetic map of the site which revealed some buildings which were cleaned and their date was established as being in the Late Antique Period.

The report on the fieldwork at Tell Yetwal wa Yuksur which was published in Egyptian Archaeology 37 (Autumn 2010) can be downloaded here. A day-by day account of the work can be found on the 'Delta Survey' blog: 2009, 2010. Photographs from this expedition can be seen on the EES Flickr page.

Tell el-Daba

In 1990 Drs Jeffrey and Patricia Spencer visited the site of Tell el-Daba in Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate and noted the remains of substantial mud-brick buildings.  In 2011 they returned as a project of the EES Delta Survey to map the site and record surface remains. In 2012 limited excavation was carried out to investigate the date and function of the mud-brick buildings which proved to be the lower courses of 'tower houses' of the Ptolemaic Period.


The report to the SCA of the 2012 season at Tell el-Daba can be downloaded here and the day by day account of the work is available on the 'Delta Survey' blog: 2011, 2012.  

Lake Burullos

In 2012 Dr Penny Wilson (University of Durham) visited and recorded details of a number of sites in and around Lake Burullos on Egypt's mediterranean coast. The report on the season published in Egyptian Archaeology 41 (Autumn 2012) can be downloaded here.

Other EES projects in the Nile Delta

Since its foundation several major fieldwork projects have arisen out of the work of the Delta Survey.

At Sais (Sa el-Hagar) a joint expedition of the EES and the University of Durham, directed by Dr Penny Wilson and funded initially by a major AHRC grant, has been excavating this ancient capital of Egypt, revealing material from the prehistoric to Roman periods. Annual reports on the Sais seasons are published here. In 2011 the Society published Dr Wilson's first excavation report on the work at the site Sais I: The Ramesside-Third Intermediate Period at Kom Rebwa, which can be purchased here from the EES online shop. An earlier memoir by Dr Wilson, The Survey of Sais (Sa el-Hagar) describing the history of the site and the survey is now out of print but an electronic copy is available for purchase.

In 2012 Dr Wilson began an investigation of the site of Tell Mutubis, as an EES Amelia Edwards Project. A summary of the preliminary results is included in her article in EA 41. An electronic copy of Dr Wilson's volume The West Delta Regional Survey; Beheira and Kafr el-Sheikh (out of print in paper) can be purchased here.

In Minufiyeh Governorate an extended survey, still on-going, directed by Dr Joanne Rowland (University of Oxford) has expanded to include open excavation and a field school at the important site of Quesna. In 2013 Dr Rowland also initiated The Imbaba Governorate Prehistoric Survey focusing on the area west of the Rosetta branch extending from the modern town of Khatatba, in the north, to south of the Neolithic site of Merimde Beni Salama. The blog for the Minufiyeh/Imbaba expeditions can be found here and photographs from the 2010 and 2011 seasons are on Flickr.

Since 2008 an Egyptian/German team, led by Dr Eva Lange (University of Wurzberg), has been investigating the important city of Bubastis (Tell Basta) and since 2011 this has been a joint project with the EES. The team's blog can be read here and photographs from 2011 and 2012 are on Flickr .

Delta Survey Workshop 2013

On 22-23 March 2013 the third EES/SCA Delta Survey Workshop was held in Cairo and, following several requests for the papers to be made available, it was agreed that participants should be invited to send material which would be prepared for publication and uploaded to this website, see this dedicated page.

Earlier Delta Survey events.

On 26 March 2009 the first joint SCA/EES Delta Survey Workshop was held at the British Council in Cairo. A report on the papers given and the lively discussions which ensued can be downloaded here.

Following the success of this first Workshop in Cairo a second was arranged for 2011, this time lasting two days (31 March-1April). For the first time, we were able to 'blog' directly from the Workshop and the summaries of each talk can be read here. The Programme and Abstracts are available here.

A Delta Survey Study-Day was held on 19 November 2011 in Berlin and a trip for EES members was organised to coincide with it. A full account can be read here.

Speakers at the Berlin Study-day. Left to right standing: Patricia and Jeffrey Spencer, Ulrich Hartung, Eva Lange, Manuela Lehmann, Penny Wilson. Kneeling: Manfred Bietak and Joanne Rowland.

If you have additional information on any Delta site in the Survey, or any queries about the Survey, please contact Jeffrey Spencer here. The database and GoogleEarthTM content are both being constantly updated, most recently in July 2013.


Help us to continue our important mission in Egypt

Now we need your help to continue our valuable work in Egypt. The EES hopes to raise £30,000 as part of its Excavation Fund Appeal to help secure future fieldwork during the coming year and to help our Field Directors to plan for the future.

To support the Excavation Fund Appeal simply click here.

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