Rizwan Ahmed, archaeologist and Vera Michel,
University of Heidelberg
Today was our fifth day on site and as usual, we arrived for work illuminated solely by starlight, in what felt like close to freezing temperatures. We are supervising excavation of building D12.5 outside the western gate of the town, in a ‘suburb’-like area identified in a magnetometry survey undertaken by a team from the British School in Rome, in 2008.
Several structures to the north were excavated in 2009 and 2010: a large villa (E12.10), and a circular construction (E12.11) more typical of Nubian architectural traditions. The excavation of D12.5 should shed more light on the nature of buildings outside the town wall, their date and their possible function.
So far, most of our work has been focused on clearing windblown sand and defining rooms within the building. With up to 15 workmen, most of the upper layers of sand have now been removed and we are starting to find archaeological material: a floor has been exposed in one room, at a level much higher than anticipated.
In some rooms, large expanses of brick rubble retain the brick coursing, and allow us to reconstruct from which wall the rubble came. Our work though is complicated by pits cut through the walls in the southern part of the building.
While elements of the building are similar to the villa excavated in 2009, there are different features: a staircase inside the front door, and a room provided with three circular structures (silos?).
All of this takes considerable time to document, with Rizwan focusing on a masterplan of the wall architecture, and Vera supervising men and recording rubble layers, amidst the strong winds, early morning cold and constant sun.
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