Amara West project blog

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Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2014: update from cemetery C

Burial

Mohamed Saad, bioarchaeologist, National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums (Sudan)

Sometimes the cool wind brings luck, or if it does not, at least it’s refreshing for the mind. I came back to Amara West for a third season, as part of the Amara West Bioarchaeology Field School (funded by the Institute for Bioarchaeology), to help gain more insights into life in ancient Nubia.

No wind but quite hot lately. Mohamed excavating under the watchful gaze of workman and site guard Rami Mohamed (waiting to sift the soil excavated from the grave).

No wind but quite hot lately. Mohamed excavating under the watchful gaze of workman and site guard Rami Mohamed (waiting to sieve soil excavated from the grave).

At first, I joined my NCAM colleague Murtada Bushara excavating in the eastern chamber of grave G248, which had beendisturbed by recent looting. Luckily, some individuals were missed by the looters: I started with cleaning sand from a wooden coffin wrapped around a child skeleton. The coffin has been made from a soft wood or bark, a material often used at Amara West. After that I recovered a skeleton that extended north-south, his head at the north, across the chamber. This individual has white plaster fragments scattered around it, probably also from the coffin.

Narrow niche burial typical at Amara West with remnants of a burial inside.

Narrow niche burial (G249), typical at Amara West, with remnants of a burial inside.

After that I moved to another grave, G249, a niche smaller burial similar to the ones I excavated here in 2013. It was without any superstructure, rectangular in shape, measuring 197cm in length (east- west) and 90cm in width. It was also clearly robbed, perhaps already in antiquity as a big schist slab (180cm long, 53cm wide) covering the niche was found lying against the northern wall of the grave. When I reached the burial niche, however, I found an articulated foot on the eastern side shaft and also intact parts of the arms and spine. This gives us an indication that the skeleton was originally orientated east-west with the head at the western end. Moreover, traces of textile, wood (perhaps also from a coffin) and a lot of soft tissue were recovered. The soft tissue offers an opportunity to undertake analyses for traces of ancient disease.

Mohamed excavating in chamber G244.1.

Mohamed excavating in chamber G244.1.

Finally, I joined Barbara Chauvet in grave G244 where I uncovered and documented the intact burial of a child who died between the age of 10 and 15. It was orientated north-south, with head to the south. Together with the skeleton I found large two copper alloy needles, one placed under the head, the other beneath the foot. Had they been used to secure the wrapping around the body?

Child burial Sk244-19 with copper alloy needle underneath the head (arrow).

Child burial Sk244-19 with copper alloy needle underneath the head (arrow).

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, objects

2 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Exciting work Mo! Hope you’ve been keeping Rami working.

  2. skdoherty says:

    Exciting work Mo! Good to see you’re keeping Rami working hard. All best to you and the team

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