By Ana Tavares
From Old Kingdom Giza to Middle Kingdom Memphis – a short drive to the south from AERA’s usual excavation site at Giza but a thousand years forward in time.
We are pleased to be working again in the ancient capital – Memphis. In 2011 we ran a beginner’s field school on this site. We were privileged to excavate and record part of the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040-1640 BC) settlement in the site of Kom el-Fakhry. The site also included a series of stone-lined tombs dated to the First Intermediate PeriodP (c. 2134-2040 BC).
According to ancient tradition the capital was founded by Menes, the first ruler of unified Egypt (around 2,900 BC). Kom el-Fakhry site is the oldest known part of Memphis.
During the 2011 Mit Rahina Field-school we recorded, analyzed, and curated a diversity of material culture – ceramics, lithics, plant remains, animal bone, mud sealings, and objects. We now return for a season to study and record this rich material and to write preliminary reports on site stratigraphy, objects overview, Old Kingdom residual ceramics, faunal remains, and mud sealings. During this study season we will train a small group of Inspectors of the Ministry for State for Antiquities in advanced archaeological Illustration and ceramics analysis.
The AERA Egypt Archaeological Centre in Giza comes to life as the team prepares the archives and assembles equipment and teaching materials. We hope to complete the setting up at Memphis in the next few days, and begin teaching sessions on Monday.
Next week we are joined by Dr. David Jeffreys, director of the Survey of Memphis. This archaeological project of the London-based Egypt Exploration Society has been running since 1981 and has shaped our current understanding of the ancient capital. In the field we will work from the old EES workroom at Mit Rahina, just behind the Memphis Open Air Museum.
Memphis is one of the undiscovered tourist attractions of Egypt. The site has a wealth of unique but seldom visited monuments. As the team and students come together for initial talks and site visits we begin to explore ideas for future projects…
… watch this space.