Carina Summerfield-Hill, physical anthropologist
I’m one of three physical anthropologists working in Cemetery C at Amara West, and in recent days I’ve been working on a chamber tomb (Grave 234) – the largest and most exciting of grave types here.
The tomb consists of a central shaft with an underground eastern and western chamber. We started excavating down into the central shaft to expose the doorway to each chamber. The sand in the shaft contained a complete Egyptian-style beer jar.
Since then, we have focused on excavating the western chamber.
The safest way to excavate it was to dig down from above, through the chamber’s roof, otherwise the fragile but heavy layers of alluvium could collapse on us. Once the chamber was exposed, we removed windblown sand which had accumulated inside.
It contains three articulated burials and a concentration of disarticulated bone that included four complete skulls.
So far I have excavated one of the articulated burials towards the centre of the chamber, the feet of which poked out into the shaft.
The entire burial was within the remains of a wooden casing, and was of an adult female, fully articulated in a crouch position – this was a really pleasing discovery as it is a local Nubian tradition of burial, as opposed to the Egyptian tradition of laying the body out in an extended burial position. This is the first Nubian burial type to be found in Cemetery C!
The western chamber also contains two further articulated burials that are extended – It is fascinating to see two different traditions in the same grave.
Over the coming days I shall be excavating these two extended burials along with the concentration of disarticulated bones, so there is a lot of work still to do.
And next we have the eastern chamber, where we have just begun removing the surface to get access.