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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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.

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  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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Our #SunkenCities exhibition is the first at the British Museum on underwater archaeology. Over the last 20 years, world-renowned archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team have excavated spectacular underwater discoveries using the latest technologies. 
At the mouth of the Nile, the city of Thonis-Heracleion flourished as the main entry point into Egypt. Underwater excavations have found a large harbour, numerous ships and anchors, proving this was an international port. This magnificent monument was crucial to revealing that Thonis (in Egyptian) and Heracleion (in Greek) were in fact the same city. The decree was issued by the pharaoh Nectanebo I, regarding the taxation of goods passing through Thonis and Naukratis. A copy was found in the main Egyptian temple in each port. The inscription states that this slab stood at the mouth of the ‘Sea of the Greeks’ (the Mediterranean) in Thonis. 
Learn more about the connections between the ancient civilisations of Egypt and Greece in our #SunkenCities exhibition - until 30 November. Follow the link in our bio to find out more about it. 
Stela commissioned by Nectanebo I (r. 378–362 BC), Thonis-Heracleion, Egypt, 380 BC. On loan from National Museum, Alexandria. Photo: Christoph Gerigk. © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation. For centuries nobody suspected that Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus lay beneath the sea. Recorded in ancient writings and Greek mythology, the cities were believed to be lost. After sightings from a plane, a diving survey was organised in 1933 to explore submerged ruins. But it was only from 1996, with the use of innovative techniques and a huge survey covering 42 square miles of the seabed, that underwater archaeologists rediscovered the lost cities. 
Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were thriving cities long before the foundation of the great port of Alexandria in 331 BC. Finds suggest that they were still inhabited into the AD 700s. The cities’ disappearance was caused by gradual subsidence into the sea – much like Venice today – coupled with earthquakes and tidal waves. This triggered a phenomenon known as land ‘liquefaction’, when the ground turns into liquid. 
This reconstruction shows what the port of Thonis-Heracleion could have looked like, dominated by the Temple of Amun-Gereb. Follow the link in our bio to book your tickets to our #SunkenCities exhibition. © Yann Bernard. © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation. Recent underwater excavations at the mouth of the Nile in Abukir Bay, Egypt, have revealed two ancient cities, perfectly preserved beneath the sea. Our #SunkenCities exhibition tells of the extraordinary rediscovery of the international port Thonis-Heracleion, and the city of Canopus, famed for their temples which attracted religious devotees from Egypt and beyond. 
Since 1996, underwater investigation using state-of-the-art technology has uncovered spectacular objects, including colossal statues, religious offerings and ancient ships. The finds shed new light on the interaction between ancient Egypt and the Greek world at a crucial period in their history, from the arrival of Greeks in Egypt around 650 BC, to the reign of the Greco-Macedonian Cleopatra VII, the last pharaoh of Egypt (51–30 BC). With only a fraction of these sites explored so far, annual excavations are continuing to uncover the cities’ long-hidden secrets. 
This 2,000-year-old bust depicts Neilos, the Nile river god. Neilos appealed to Egyptians and Greeks alike – he was the Greek version of Hapy, the Egyptian personification of the annual Nile flood that brought prosperity and fertility to the land. This bust was once mounted into a large decorative shield and adorned a temple in the ancient Egyptian city of Canopus. It was discovered by underwater archaeologists at the base of the wall on which it once hung. 
Follow the link in our bio to find out more about our unmissable exhibition. 
Bust of Neilos. Canopus, AD 100–200. On loan from Maritime Museum, Alexandria. Photo: Christoph Gerigk. © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation. This astonishingly detailed miniature altarpiece has been photographed by @micahfoundaquarter. Made in 1511 in the Netherlands, it’s only 25cm tall but contains incredibly intricate carvings that show Christian religious scenes in triptych form (in three parts). Aside from the masterful craftsmanship, this object is notable for its use of both Gothic and Renaissance stylings. It offers an insight into the spread of ideas and styles into northern Europe from the birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy.
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