Amara West project blog

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Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2014: back to the sorting table

Pottery bags in the dig house

Anna Garnett, University of Liverpool

I’m back at Amara West for my second season as the site ceramicist, this time working on several different projects running concurrently. As well as trying to put a dent in the backlog of pottery to be studied from previous seasons, our first month of work is dedicated to the ongoing excavation of Cemetery C, directed by Michaela Binder, and the survey and excavation of a number of desert sites which lie beyond the enclosure wall, directed by Anna Stevens. From February onwards, the focus of the excavations will then turn to the town itself.

Linen bags filled with pottery in the dig house courtyard

Linen bags filled with pottery in the dig house courtyard

Any pottery which is excavated is brought back to the house where I then process and study it, with the help of our illustrator (and expert pot gluer) Alice Salvador and Ali Jellal, our pot-washer.

Ali Jellal washing pottery before study

Ali Jellal washing pottery before study

Since excavation in the cemetery involves working on the same context over several days, sometimes sherds from the same vessel are brought to the house on different days, which means that the puzzle of making joins slowly unravels through the week! Interestingly, joins are being made between sherds from different contexts in the cemetery, for example in Grave 244, which indicates disturbance of the tomb.

Alice Salvador reconstructing pottery

Alice Salvador reconstructing pottery

The pottery from the extra-mural survey is beginning to reveal a fascinating picture of life outside the walls of the town, and so far the mix of wheel-made pottery forms and handmade vessels, in particular cooking pots, indicate the presence of both Egyptians and Nubians at these sites like we see inside the town walls. The Egyptian pottery forms also suggest that this activity took place during the 18th Dynasty, i.e. before the Ramesside occupation of the town. As more pottery is revealed, this distinction will become more apparent so watch this space!

Alongside regular updates on the blog, follow the season on Twitter: @NealSpencer_BM and #AmaraWest

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Filed under: Amara West 2014, archaeology, funerary, hinterland, New Kingdom, pottery, survey

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