Amara West project blog

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Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2014: Bodies, coffins, an egg and more

Sunrise at cemetery C

Michaela Binder, Durham University

Into week 4 – the end of the short cemetery season is approaching fast. So far, we’ve made good progress in the tumulus tomb (G244) but also got some interesting results from the chamber tombs (G247 and 248) that where unfortunately looted last year.

Morning view over Cemetery C.

Morning view over Cemetery C.

The northern tomb (G247) was excavated by NCAM inspector Murtada Bushara who joined us for the first half of the season. Unusual for cemetery C, it only had one burial chamber on the western side of the shaft. The burials seem to date to the late New Kingdom period – according to the pottery left in the grave. The three adult burials had been completely destroyed, though luckily for us bioarchaeologists, the bones remained largely intact. In contrast to most other tombs they are extraordinarily well preserved. Therefore, they will add important information to the yet small group of New Kingdom individuals, allowing for further insights as to what life was like at ancient Amara West.

Mohamed Saad and Murtada Bushara documenting burials in the eastern burial chamber of G248.

Mohamed Saad and Murtada Bushara documenting burials in the eastern burial chamber of G248.

In the second chamber tomb, G248, looters had been a bit less thorough. Parts of three extended skeletons were still intact on the bottom of the chamber. Mohamed Saad, NCAM inspector who has been participating in the Institute for Bioarchaeology Amara West Field School since 2012, joined us at the start of this week. He is now working to document those burials – not an easy task due to poor state of preservation!

A rare intact skull from Amara West with a large dental abscess which even perforated the nasal sinus.

A rare intact skull from Amara West with a large dental abscess which even perforated the nasal sinus.

In New Kingdom tumulus tomb G244, Sofie, Barbara, Maickel and I are currently working feverishly to finish excavation of all the chambers. The discovery of an intact ostrich egg used as a vessel, coffin parts and two more intact burials in chamber 244.1 kept us busy. We’ve just discovered two further burials hidden under the windblown sand in the back of the chamber…

The ostrich egg vessel (F9803) fresh from the field.

The ostrich egg vessel (F9803) fresh from the field.

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, New Kingdom, pottery

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