British Museum blog

Amara West 2012: nice objects among archaeological puzzles


Tom Lyons, archaeologist, and Shadia Abdu Rabu, Sudan National Museum

Since the last update from house E13.8, excavation of further deposits and features within the rooms has revealed earlier architecture and some interesting finds.

In the central room in the house we have photographed, drawn and dug away a second mud plaster floor surface with a central hearth. This floor was covered in broken pottery and had a partially complete vessel set in it. It also contained a hearth in the same place as the later floor which lay above it. Such consistency of layout suggests the function of the room remained the same.

Bread ovens in the small room at the front of the house have also been excavated. These proved relatively straightforward to remove, but proved difficult to define as they consist of hard-fired ashy silt.

Cleaning ovens in room E13.8.4

Cleaning ovens in room E13.8.4

These are examples of some of the more typical archaeological features we encounter when excavating at Amara West, and indeed in any New Kingdom brick houses. Every house in the town has so far contained a central room for domestic activity and often a separate room for making bread and grinding cereals.

Faience scarab with a depiction of a king as a sphinx

Faience scarab with a depiction of a king as a sphinx

Less common are fine faience artefacts, an example of which turned up this week – we recovered a small but very finely carved scarab which depicts a representation of the king as a sphinx, a classic symbol of pharaonic power, with the name Menkheperra before it. This was one of the names of Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC), popular on amulets and scarabs long after his death.

Looking further ahead (or down!) we saw earlier layers emerging. My trowel made that familiar scraping noise when it strikes hard sandstone: a big stone which by the end of the day had begun to look like a door step, or threshold stone, complete with a little socket for a door post – the only issue being that there isn’t, as yet, a door to go with it, only a big wall. This leads us to believe that there’s either a hidden or blocked doorway, or the adjacent wall is a replacement of an earlier wall.

Such are the daily puzzles which confront us…

Find out more about the Amara West research project

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Filed under: Amara West, Archaeology, , , , ,

20 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. That’s incredible stuff. I can’t imagine what it’s like to look history in the face like that… makes me want to roam Pompeii again!

    Like

  2. Hands Up says:

    Really great architecture in the past!

    Like

  3. Marty says:

    Awesome!! It’s funny, my son gets excited when he finds something at the beach and I get excited when I read this! Great work guys.

    Like

  4. Emcees says:

    Wow! I like to be an archaeologist too. I like to discover an ancient artifact for millions years ago. Great discovery keep searching and discover new thing in the past.

    Cheers!

    Like

  5. hanijey says:

    Cool news

    I love it

    Thanks

    Like

  6. IRA says:

    I want to be an archaeologist too. Is the curse of the pharoah true? Scary..

    Like

  7. Joe Luna says:

    Excavating history really brings the present and future to life.
    There’s some really interesting reading available on Thutmose and Moses of the Bible.

    Like

  8. There are many areas in the world has not yet discovered.
    There are also several ancient monuments coccobacillus Must have,
    And it’s nice to have such a discovery to learn about ancient civilizations
    Thank you …

    Like

  9. FitnFly says:

    You watch Ancient Aliens? Best part about it are the Egyptian discussions, you never know what we could find next.

    Like

  10. This stuff really fascinates me. As a young boy I could recite every dinosaur that ever roamed the earth. Egyptology is particularly interesting because of just how long ago people were creating giant structures that rivaled modern day skyscrapers.

    Like

  11. These articles are nice because the focus is on the broader culture with skeletal evidence as a piece of the puzzle and not the entire focus. For mortuary archaeology, these posts are a better option.

    Like

  12. G. Wells says:

    The pottery vessels set into the floor appear to be an ancient form of built-in storage.

    Like

  13. Amazing treasures! Thanks for the article.

    Like

  14. Brad says:

    “My trowel made that familiar scraping noise” I LOVE that noise. Thanks for the article!

    Like

  15. I want to be an archaeologist too. Is the curse of the pharoah true? Scary..

    Like

  16. Majas Lapa says:

    I am history mayor in History and during the summer we had to do archaeology work to get our mid-term grades. I know how it is to sit in sun all day, brushing stones and the perfect feeling when you find something realy old and meaningful. I always think about such findings as a part of local history – someone before 200, 500 or 1000 held it in his arms, made it and for some reasons left this object (or it was in grave, etc). It can realy rush the imagination. Good job guys! Best of luck!

    Like

  17. iNAP says:

    Hey Thanks for the great insight into the archaeology. I wanted to know if you have volunteer session where a person can attend or be part of excavations?

    Thanks.

    Like

  18. edwardsox29 says:

    What an interesting job. I don’t know something about getting absolutely ripped and going and looking at bones or whatever sounds absolutely amazing. How long do you have to study to get the qualification for it?

    Like

  19. Awesome Post. I wonder if this also applies to Meteor findings? Do the tools and ideology differ when looking for pre-historic rocks and meteors. How do you recognize the difference from one to another?

    Like

  20. I too want to be an archaeologist

    Like

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This is our next gallery space in the #MuseumOfTheFuture series. It's Room 64, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery of Early Egypt. Rapid advances in the technology and social organisation of Egypt during the 5th millennium BC produced a material culture of increasing sophistication. Further innovations followed in about 3100 BC when the separate Predynastic peoples of Upper and Lower Egypt were united under a single ruler. The resulting increase in wealth and strong central control led to dramatic achievements in architecture, writing and fine goods, culminating in the building of the Great Pyramids of Giza in around 2600 BC.
Objects on display in Room 64 illustrate the cultural, technological and political development of early civilisation in Egypt throughout this period. In this picture you can see Gebelein Man, a mummy who was naturally preserved in the desert sands, and who used to have the unofficial nickname of Ginger (although the Museum doesn't use this name). In the background you can see an interactive virtual autopsy of the mummy which was installed in the newly refurbished gallery last year. It's Toulouse-Lautrec's 150th birthday! Here's his poster for a Parisian cabaret 
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See this cartonnage mask in our exhibition #8mummies – now extended until 19 April 2015.
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Mummification, magic and ritual are investigated through the objects on display in Rooms 62–63. These include coffins, mummies, funerary masks, portraits and other items designed to be buried with the deceased. Modern research methods such as x-rays and CT scans are used to examine the mummification process. As it's #MummyMonday here's Room 62 – together with Room 63 known as the Roxie Walker Galleries of Egyptian death and afterlife: mummies. Possibly the most famous galleries in the Museum, they are the next spaces in our #MuseumOfTheFuture series. Death and the afterlife held particular significance and meaning for the ancient Egyptians. Complex funeral preparations and rites were thought to be needed to ensure the transition of the individual from earthly existence to immortality.
Mummification, magic and ritual are investigated through the objects on display in Rooms 62–63. These include coffins, mummies, funerary masks, portraits and other items designed to be buried with the deceased. Modern research methods such as x-rays and CT scans are used to examine the mummification process. It's time for our next #MuseumOfTheFuture gallery space. This is Room 61, the Michael Cohen Gallery of Egyptian life and death (the tomb-chapel of Nebamun). The British Museum acquired 11 wall-paintings from the tomb-chapel of a wealthy Egyptian official called Nebamun in the 1820s. Dating from about 1350 BC, they are some of the most famous works of art from ancient Egypt.
Following a 10-year period of conservation and research, the paintings were put on display together for the first time in 2009. They give the impression of the walls of colour that would have been experienced by the ancient visitors to the tomb-chapel.
Objects dating from the same time period and a 3D animation of the tomb-chapel help to set the tomb-chapel in context and show how the finished tomb would have looked. (There is no Room 60 in the British Museum.)
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