Amara West project blog


Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2013: looking beneath the surface

Workmen brushing to reveal preserved tops of ancient wallsNeal Spencer, British Museum

Our first day at the ancient town site, and with a very small number of workmen available, Shadia Abdu Rabo, our colleague and inspector from the Sudan National Museum, and I supervised the brushing of the walls in villa D12.5.

Workmen brushing to reveal preserved tops of ancient walls

Workmen brushing to reveal preserved tops of ancient walls

In some ways the archaeology at Amara West is wonderfully convenient. Many of the walls are visible on the surface, and with the help of magnetometry, we can find the others with a cursory brush of the mixture of windblown sand, pebbles and sherds that cover the site. While convenient, this approach is also the only one possible. The thick deposits of windblown sand preclude the creation of arbitrary modern trenches – for example a 5×5 metre square – as the trench side would soon collapse. So we dig room by room, building by building. This becomes complex when we get to the buildings beneath those nearest the surface.

The front part of the structure is well preserved, but many of the walls near the back are badly pitted. Seeing the building plan emerge, I am now even wondering if we should call it a ‘villa’!

Elsewhere, we just had time to brush back the walls of house E13.5, and started removing sand from the front room that leads from the street. Michaela Binder spent the day in Cemetery C completing pre-excavation photography and finalising the excavation strategy for the coming weeks.

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