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The Survey of Memphis

The Survey of Memphis was initiated in 1982 to mark the Society’s centenary and is directed by Dr David Jeffreys of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London. The work of the Memphis Survey’s work over the next five year period (from 2009) will involve a rigorous field testing of the geoarchaeological modelling done in the Cairo region published by Katy Lutley and Judith Bunbury, in preliminary form in EA 32 and discussed by David Jeffreys in the same issue.

For the first time we have a rational and scientifically argued model for Nile movement and ecological change (as opposed to speculative suggestions based on historical observations, useful though these are) and a well-defined set of parameters within which to work.  This new model has great explanatory potential for the site and we are beginning to explore how it will affect other interpretations from documentary sources. The key objectives for investigation will be: the identification of Nile channels in the western part of the Nile valley between the suggested third millennium Delta head in the Saqqara-Abusir region and the present delta head downstream of Gazirat al-Warraq; the definition of a Pleistocene sand island (‘turtleback’) beneath modern Mit Rahina and the later dynastic site of Memphis; investigation of the suggestion of differential vertical movement along the geological fault between the North Saqqara escarpment and the floodplain, which should help to elucidate the comparison of levels over the 3,000 years between the Old Kingdom and Roman periods already highlighted by the Survey’s recent work along the foot of the escarpment.

Autumn 2011 Season


Dr David Jeffreys, the Director of the Society’s Survey of Memphis, and Judith Bunbury are teaching this autumn on behalf of the EES at the renowned field school run by Ancient Egypt Research Associates, directed by Mark Lehner. Courses are usually taught at Giza but this year are also being taught at Mitrahina (ancient Memphis) to give students experience in working on settlement sites.

The 'blog' for the field school is now online at: www.aeraweb.org/category/blog/2011-field-season/

View to the south-east over the training excavation.


A recent lecture on the work at Memphis by Dr Jeffreys at the EES Study Day on 25 June 2011 is available below. 


In addition to Dr Jeffreys work, Dr Paul Nicholson of the University of Cardiff hopes, within the same timescale, to obtain funding for an industrial landscape project incorporating work at Kom Helul and Kom Qala. Work so far at Kom Helul suggests that there may be a horizontal stratigraphy, with the industrial areas moving gradually southwards from a large enclosure wall detected in 2000. It is possible that this wall marked the boundary of the industrial area in the Late Period but that the area spread south during Roman times.

The remains on Kom Qala have not yet been located or dated, but to judge from Petrie’s work it is likely that they belong to the late Ptolemaic or early Roman period. The purpose of this work would be to fill considerable gaps on our knowledge of the stages in production of faience and Egyptian blue and relate them to the production of pottery, which may also be going on in the area – if only to produce the industrial saggar vessels used in faience production and the jars used for the manufacture of frit.  Whilst some headway has been made in the understanding of craft relations in the New Kingdom it is less clear for the organisation of vitreous materials during the Ptolemaic/Roman era.

NEWS (06 Nov 2009): A report on the September 2009 season is now available here.


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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