Ancient Egypt Research Associates

Posted by Dr. Judith Bunbury (Cambridge University)

I’m glad to be back in Egypt, my first visit since the revolution and a time of great optimism as well as a little uncertainty. We arrived at the site on the first day to find that it is beautifully clean and that all sorts of features are visible in the pared surface of the old Egypt Exploration Society excavations. Of course, an important part of the field school is the teaching of the students and we have five groups each of whom will be initiated into the rites of augering. So far two groups have had the training and some of the students have already expressed a wish to become ‘berimistas’, the Arabic for auger being berime. All the students are new to sediment analysis so we are proceeding very carefully to make sure that everyone understands and everyone has a chance to learn every skill from the muscle work to the detailed identification and recording of the finds. Even so our results from the first few days are wonderful with one borehole to a depth of nearly nine metres and another down through occupation to sand and, tantalisingly below this evidence of an earlier occupation level. Of course we can’t commit ourselves before we have completed our observations but the flavour is rather Old Kingdom which would make this one of the core sites of ancient Memphis.

We have another three groups to induct and then augering will become one of the tools that we can apply to the archaeology of the site. Already our students are asking the question ‘Where was the Nile when ancient Memphis was built?’ and I hope that core by core we will approach an answer to this question in the weeks ahead.

(Dr Judith Bunbury, Cambridge University)

A squeaky clean site – a tabula rasa…

Famy, veteran of over 150 boreholes leads the team to 8 m below the surface.

Spot the difference. Sherd bearing silts and (above) the beach deposit that they overly.