The Tell Basta Project RSS

The Tell Basta Project is a joint mission of the Egypt Exploration Society, the University of Würzburg and the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities. The team is directed in the field by Dr Eva Lange. Further information: http://goo.gl/QbJdi

Archive

Apr
8th
Mon
permalink

1000 years of Pottery at Bubastis – Ceramics from Late Period till Late Antique Times

Five weeks of field work at Tell Basta have already gone by. As it often happens in excavations, the best finds come up at the end of the season; so, I finally got some ceramic material from ‘in situ’ contexts.

Nevertheless, the actual amount of ceramics this season is immense and I have a great deal of work. Excavations in the two grid squares Y/2 and Z/2 revealed thick layers of potsherds starting from the topsoil. The majority of these mixed assemblages date to Roman and Late Antique times containing some Ptolemaic and older material, but unfortunately no intact vessels. The assemblages are composed of amphorae, cooking wares, fine wares and coarse wares providing a large range of types.

North African (ARS) (on the left) and Egyptian (ERS) (on the right) fine wares

Some ware groups display Egyptian and imported types, e.g. amphorae (AE3, LRA1, LRA 4, Tripolitanian type, Phoenician Torpedo amphora) and fine wares (ERS A, ERS B, ARS, CRS). These imported amphorae and fine wares originate from three main geographic regions: the north African regions of modern Tunisia and Libya, the island of Cyprus and the Levant. Imported cooking wares and coarse wares are uncommon though. The majority of such material recovered at the site is of local Egyptian origin.

The south-eastern quarter of grid square Z/2 is likely to be the continuation of a Roman pit that was discovered in the bordering grid square Z/3 in 2010. The investigated ceramic material deriving from that assemblage shows significant similarities with the pottery from the Roman pit. Despite being very fragmented, the pit-assemblage from Z/2 provided some nice pottery finds, e.g. a Roman lamp with the remains of the fuse once used in it.     

Roman lamp with remains of fuse 

In grid square Y/7 we were lucky to find ‘in situ’ artefacts. The surface layer and contexts were more homogeneous compared to the mixed layers of the grid squares Y/2 and Z/2. According to the pottery and terracotta figurines, the surface layer of Y/7 and the mud brick structures underneath date to the 4th/3rd century BC. Just recently, promising pottery contexts appeared within a room in the mud brick building excavated in this grid square. The room contained ‘in situ’ finds of several cooking pots, jars and few bowls. Some of them are preserved up to 50% or more. In few cases we found intact vessels. They all date to the 4th/3rd century BC. Some of these vessels exhibit organic remains on their interiors and traces from use on the fire on their exterior surfaces. Particularly cooking wares and finds of animal bones, fish remains and shells derive from ash-layers within this room and point towards the discovery of a place used for food processing. Still, further studies on that room and analysis of its material remains in conjunction with comparable finds from previous seasons have to be carried out. This will hopefully enable us to learn more about dining habits and food preferences at ancient Bubastis.

Mandy lifting an intact cooking pot in grid square Y/7 

While I have an active and busy time studying the daily excavated potsherds and ceramic contexts, I’m happy to have a good team that supports me and helps me in progressing the pottery work at the Tell. So far, we continue the documentation of ceramics from last seasons, including currently excavated material. Rabea spends hours each day with a pencil in her hand drawing potsherds. During the last weeks, Cindy and Christopher did the same. Furthermore, we have trained the Egyptian inspectors in ceramic studies and we were happy to have our Egyptian colleague Ashraf Senussi with us. Ashraf stayed at the site for few days and had a look on some Old Kingdom pottery from the Ka-Chapel of Pepi I. that was excavated between 2000 and 2002. Further work on that material will be carried out in autumn season 2013.

Comments (View)
Mar
27th
Wed
permalink

Heart of Glass

Roman and Late Antique glass is probably not necessarily the focus of all Egyptologists. One is only forced to deal with it when directly confronted with it – as in my case: the unexpected discovery of large amounts of post-Pharaonic glass during recent excavations at Bubastis/Tell Basta made me a glass expert!

In addition to relatively traditional research, such as dating the material and establishing a typology, I became aware of the huge potential of combining Egyptology and Natural Sciences by applying archaeometrical methods. I am lucky to have to leading glass experts, Thilo Rehren (UCL-Qatar) and Ian Freestone (UCL), to analyse and interpret my data. Last week, Thilo came to Zagazig with a portable-XRF device that measures the chemical composition of an artefact by detecting its major and trace elements. 

Fig. 1: Our portable XRF device topped by the bottom part of a Sprite can to protect us from X-rays

With the help of a Sprite can (fig. 1) we analysed more than 100 glass fragments. The aim of this study is to identify the provenance of the raw glass used at Bubastis in order to understand the city’s position in the Roman  and Late Antique glass trade. This is particularly interesting as, at least from the 4th century AD onward, there is good archaeological and compositional evidence for a strongly centralised production of glass in large scale factories on the Eastern Mediterranean shores, both in Egypt and the Levant. From there, the raw glass was sent as chunks to secondary glass working furnaces across the Empire for artefact production serving local or regional markets.

Our work revealed that glass from at least two primary producers was used at Bubastis, notably the so-called “Roman” glass, dating to the first three centuries AD with an unknown production area, and “HIMT” glass (High in Iron, Maganese and Titania), which started being produced from the fourth century onwards on the Northern Sinai.

Fig. 2: Base fragment of a “Roman” colourless glass bowl

The earlier Roman glass (fig. 2.) is characterised by the intentional addition of antimony or manganese acting as a decolourant – colourless glass seems to have been en vogue during the late first to the third centuries AD at Bubastis.

Fig. 3: Base fragment of an “HIMT” glass bowl

The HIMT glass on the other hand is of a natural olive green colour (fig. 3). Situated in the Eastern Nile Delta, Bubastis can be expected to have been well integrated into the Roman glass trade – a picture confirmed by the contemporary ceramic finds. The shift in glass composition over a timespan of more than 500 years, is in line with observations elsewhere in the Late Roman empire.

Fig. 4: Farewell to Thilo…

As always, time was flying and Thilo had to leave for London three days after his arrival (fig. 4).

However, more comparative analytical data is required in support of more refined conclusions about glass supply and consumption in Roman and Late Antique Egypt. As the data collected by us comprise the only available data for the relevant time frame from Egypt to date, a fuller programme of analysis and interpretation is currently under way. During the next few weeks I will visit more excavation sites in the Delta and study their glass finds, while back home I will analyse contemporary glass fragments discovered in Egypt and held at several collections within the UK, hopefully allowing me to explore glass consumption patterns for the Nile Delta and surrounding areas during Roman and Late Antique times. I’m most looking forward to doing this!

On the downside, life is currently a bit restricted in our flat at Zagazig with regular power failures and water shortage but we are – as always – dealing with such earthly matters in the most stoic way…More news hopefully soon, if our internet works!

Daniela Rosenow

Comments (View)
Mar
21st
Thu
permalink

Back to Basta

The first two weeks at Tell Basta just literally flew by, for this time we had a lot of things more to get settled. The project is growing more and more with a lot of sub-projects evolving and as much as we are delighted by this, it took us some time to get everything ready. More flats had to be rented and the whole infrastructure needed to be expanded and got into a routine!

Firstly, we started work in Area A where we are completing the excavation of the temple precinct and its Ptolemaic and Late Dynastic period buildings.

Here we opened another grid at the axis of the temple dromos, east to the grid we excavated last season where, to our surprise, we discovered a triad statue of the Ramesside period. Our task here is, to get more information of the layout and building history of the temple dromos and its use in the Ptolemaic and Roman period.

Excavation here is very difficult, since over the last two millennia, huge layers of debris settled here covering the archaeological layers. As far as we can tell from the results of the excavation of the first dromos square in the last season, the area of the dromos seems to have been laid waste, at least near the temple entrance, for a remarkable long time, and not only lain open but probably also dug out in parts. The disturbed layers, showing mixed pottery from the Late Dynastic period to the Middle Ages, as well as the large triad statue which has obviously been dumped there sometime after the Roman Period, bear witness to that assumption.

image

Current excavation at the Dromos square

At the same time the new epigraphic documentation of the decorated Old Kingdom tombs started. This is very exciting and interesting work. The decorated tombs, dating to the 6th Dynasty, were excavated by Mohamad Ibrahim Bakr in the 1980’s. They form a part of an elite cemetery of the nobles of Bubastis. The tombs were built of mud brick, with vaulted roofs. The sarcophagus chamber, however was revetted with polished limestone slabs. The slabs than were decorated with reliefs and paintings, showing offering tables, several grave goods and inscriptions, naming the owner of the tomb and his (or her!) titles. At the moment, we work in the tomb of the official Ankh-em-Baset, “He who lives in Baset (Bubastis)”, which has been embellished with delicate painted reliefs.

Those tombs belong to the very rare category of decorated tombs of the Old Kingdom in the Nile Delta of which only a handful of examples is known so far (for example at Mendes).

image

Epigraphic work in the sarcophagus chamber of the tomb of Anchembaset

Since the various sites are situated quite a long walking distance from each other, we adopted the use of walkie talkies which proved to be very useful little helpers in the communication between the work team

image

Eva with the walkie talkie with Nectanebo, our faithful guard

Comments (View)
Nov
14th
Wed
permalink

The end of the Autumn Season - and a surprising discovery

The last days of the season were very busy and moreover, we were cut off the Internet for several days. Therefore this last entry on our excavation blog is a kind of a postscript.

In good news, the postscript deals with a great find which turned up in the so called “Dromos square” (Y/2). The Dromos square is situated on the axis which leads from the temple of Bastet to the city itself. Precisely on this axis, we started to excavate new squares in order to investigate the building history of that area. Assuming that traces of the once-monumental, stone-paved Dromos, doubtless the most important street of the city in the Late Dynastic Period, or of its demolishing process should be hidden here, we excavated huge disturbed layers of mud brought by rainfalls and the inundation as well as windblown sand. The characteristics of those layers and the discovered pottery showed us, that this area lay open as wasteland for a very long period of time, at least from the Early Roman Period onwards.

Completely unexpectedly, the digging revealed suddenly a huge triad statue of pink granite (H: 2.47m; W: 1.9m, D: 0.90m) in the southwestern corner of the square. Firstly, it seemed to be only part of a single seated statue of a king. As we removed layer by layer, more and more features came to light and the statue ‘grew’ daily.

The statue during excavation

Finally, we could see clearly the features of a seated triad statue, showing a male bearded figure in the middle, flanked by a male to its right and a female to its left side; most probably a king accompanied by two deities. In order to fully expose the statue, we had to widen the square to the south. This work took several days of hard work, but the results were fantastic. The statue lay on its dorsal part. Due to the climatic conditions of the Delta, the surface was rather worn, although the features are still very visible.

The statue during excavation, showing the weathering to the front

Sadly no inscriptions survive on the front of the statue, but we were very hopeful of finding an inscription on the back section, which may help us to identify the depicted king. Therefore, after the full exposure and of the statue, I squeezed myself in the small space between the statue and the profile of the square to very carefully clean a part of the back side which lay on a compact layer of very muddy sand, compressed by the weight of the statue during the centuries. After a short while I saw the typical features of a cartouche, revealing the prenomen of Ramses. After the moments of rejoicing, we realized that we are faced with the serious problem to move the statue, which weighs around 5-6 tons, from the excavation area to the new Open Air Museum, where it should be displayed. After a discussion of the problem with our Egyptian colleagues at Tell Basta, namely Tamir Shawki, our Inspector, the solution was to hire a crane from the local electric company.

The statue being lifted

In the very last days of the season, the crane arrived in the afternoon, and in a quite nerve-racking process, which involved the use of a lot of ropes and several attempts, the statue was moved to the Open Air Museum without any incidents. The crane-driver and especially our workers did a remarkable job here! The statue will be studied in the next season and find its entrance into the already voluminous corpus of the statues of Bubastis.

The statue in the Open Air Museum at Tell Basta

Why the statue found its last resting place in the area of the Dromos is still a mystery. It may have been brought there from the temple, but other possibilities do exist, for example, the statue could have been located in front of the temple, e.g. in front of the Pylon, or in a temple annexed to the Great temple of Bastet, which has yet to be discovered. The only thing we can say for sure now, is that the statue was brought to the area of the Dromos as the Dromos was already demolished, at least partly, and laid open for a long period of time. Therefore, the date of the deposition of the statue can be estimated as somewhere between the Roman Period and the Middle Ages.

The statue, showing the seated king, Ramesses II, flanked by two deities

Comments (View)
Oct
29th
Mon
permalink

Pottery Studies at Tell Basta – Lots of Material and new Chronological Horizons

Another week has passed and large quantities of new ceramic material have come to light during current excavation in Area A. This means there is a lot for Mandy to do. Her work on the pottery is progressing well and includes not only material of former seasons but also material from the recent excavation.

This time, Mandy’s studies have changed focus from the examination of the fabric of selected groups of ceramics from Tell Basta, which was the main focus of last season’s work, to the documentation of the excavated pottery from spring 2012, which continues through classification, drawing, and photographing the remaining objects from relevant contexts. Additionally, we have been able to reassemble and document two fragmentary amphorae of torpedo type, that had been found in a room in grid square Y/5 and were lifted at the end of last season. One torpedo jar is an import from Phoenicia, the other one a copy in Egyptian Marl clay. They date between the 4th  and 3rd centuries BC; this dating is also supported by associated pottery from the same context.

Reassembled amphorae of torpedo type, found in spring season 2012

With the help of Rabea, a new team member, recording of pottery has increased, allowing us to document more ceramic material from the recent excavation. While Rabea is occupied with drawing potsherds, Mandy prepares the selections for further studies and continues her classification. She’s monitoring the pottery that comes to light every day, enabling her to give preliminary results about the broader context. These ceramics derive from several rooms and construction fillings within the mud brick buildings that were recovered in grid squares Y/6 and Z/5.

Rabea drawing potsherds

Compared to the pottery previously excavated, the ceramics discovered at Y/6 are of a different nature. The building discovered here provides slightly older material, dating to the Late Period and Early Ptolemaic Period, mainly the 4th century BC. Ptolemaic fine wares  and cooking wares have hardly been discovered in any layers, instead older material was more frequent there. The majority of pottery from this building is made from Egyptian alluvial clays and of a rather coarse nature. Imports are mainly restricted to amphorae, which are either of Greek or of Phoenician origin.

Mandy sorting excavated ceramics from grid square Y/6

A different situation appears in grid square Z/5. There, the pottery is more similar to previously excavated material and reflects rather Ptolemaic than Late Period contexts. Fine wares, cooking wares and amphorae of typical Ptolemaic types are common and suggest a later date than this of the building in Y/6.

Apart from the documentation of previously and currently excavated material, Mandy  is already busy preparing next season’s ceramic work. A collaborative examination of ceramics from Tell Basta is planned in cooperation with the CeramAlex-Project http://goo.gl/nOG5u and http://goo.gl/iI2DX in spring 2013. Niton/XRF analysis of selected types and fabrics will help to clarify whether the ceramics were produced locally in ancient Bubastis. 

Comments (View)
Oct
16th
Tue
permalink

3D scanning - day and night

Five days of extensive 3D scanning lie behind us and we have managed to document all areas and fragments from the temple as planned. Our surveyors, Thomas and Mark, left this morning, quite tired after working day and night!

During the day they were busy in the Old Kingdom necropolis and the Middle Kingdom palace, using a 3D laser scanner.

3D-scanning the Old Kingdom necropolis using a laser scanner

This special scanner is particularly employed for large site scans and offers a high accuracy of measurement for ancient structures. In a first step, the survey points of the scanner were calibrated with a total station, then the actual scanning took place, creating a point cloud. During only four days Thomas and Mark generated a detailed map of the whole necropolis and palace, that will be transferred into CAD plans shortly.

3D scan of the Old Kingdom necropolis

3D scan of the Middle Kingdom Palace

At night, it was Daniela’s and Theresa’s turn! Various statue and shrine fragments still lying in the temple of Bastet were recorded in three dimensions. Theresa needs these scans for her PhD thesis about the Ramesside statues in the temple of Bastet, while Daniela is about to publish her thesis on the building erected by Nekhthorheb that includes numerous shrines/ shrine fragments. For the documentation of these blocks a white light scanner was used, that is mainly applied for measuring smaller objects up to 5m in size. While Mark was positioning the scanner in front of the statue/shrine fragment, Thomas operated the laptop.

Mark positioning the scanner

Thomas and Daniela in front of the laptop

Altogether more than 800 single scans have been produced, providing the raw data for reconstructing the architecture of the pieces.

Shrine fragment D/5.6 in situ

Subsequently all single scans were linked together, again creating a point cloud that offers an immensely high information density and allows the computation of a 3D model. If desired, these data can be transferred to a 3D plotter and a 3D printout of the reconstructed statue or shrine can be created. Some shrine fragments of the 30th dynasty naoi still show extremely detailed decoration that can hardly be copied sufficiently by using traditional epigraphical methods. These areas were recorded in high detail, using a very small scanner frame of only 20x20cm.  

Detailed scan of an inscription on shrine fragment C/6.12

Altogether 20 fragments of statues and 17 shrine fragments were scanned over five nights. The statue fragments included pieces of the White Crown of Upper Egypt belonging to a reused statue (probably originally dating to the time of Senusret I), fragments of back pillars (of statues dating back to Ramesses II and Osorkon II), parts of legs, torsi, fragments of a staff-bearer statue and a double statue (both Ramesses II, the latter one maybe reused).

Scanning the first fragment – a huge foot with base, which was excavated for the scan two weeks ago (see our previous post) – took us one hour; during this time our inspector, Tamir, provided us with tea and coffee which we were quite happy about! The foot belongs to a statue that was usurped by Ramesses II and Osorkon II. In the Great Temple of Bastet there are three of these colossal statues. Two of them were erected in the Festival Hall of Osorkon II and the third one apparently in the Central Court, judged by the find spots of all fragments belonging to this sculpture.

Unfortunately, only six fragments of the colossal statue discovered at the Central Court are preserved today and they are all in a bad state of preservation. The head with the White Crown is broken in two pieces, the eye sockets are empty and clearly were originally inlaid. The back pillar shows traces of the cartouches of Ramesses II and Osorkon II.

The last statue fragment we scanned was a huge quartzite torso of a large scale statue representing a king. The fragments are situated in the Peristyle Court and show traces of the king’s kilt and the inscription given on the back pillar. The latter one mentions Osorkon II, but shows traces of reworking. This statue is probably one of a pair, representing a Ramesside queen (nowadays in the Open Air Museum, made of granite) and this Ramesside king.

Statue fragment of a Ramesside king

Most of these fragments are badly weathered, making it difficult to take exact measurements and produce accurate drawings of these pieces. Thus the 3D scans provided a big help for Theresa to reconstruct these statues.

Altogether, 17 shrine fragments were three-dimensionally scanned. Three blocks belong to the main naos of Bastet, that was originally erected in the centre of the Late Period building. Some fragments of this shrine are at the British Museum today and the 3D scans of the blocks still in situ at Tell Basta clearly prove that they join directly to the BM fragments. The same holds true for five more shrine fragments still on site today, that once belonged to a second naos for Bastet (probably a barque shrine). Putting their 3D scans together, it is possible to reconstruct almost the whole inner niche of this monument.

Reconstruction of the barque shrine of Bastet, including pieces still in the temple at Tell Basta and at the British Museum

The only part missing is the middle section of its left wall, which luckily is also held by the British Museum today. Obviously, a three-dimensional recording of this block (EA 1106) would be highly desirable and could help to generate a 3D model of the whole inner niche of this unique piece of art. Nine more shrine fragments belong to naoi for the secondary gods and goddesses worshipped at ancient Bubastis.

3D image of shrine fragment C/5.17 dedicated to a secondary deity of Bubastis

Their decoration is not equally detailed but they show a high variety in certain architectural elements (different types of roofs, freezes of uraei, inner niches etc). The documentation of these blocks with 3D scans represents a very precious help for producing technical drawings of these monuments.

So, five exhausting but very productive days came to an end, today – Friday – is our day off and tomorrow our new work week starts. More updates from the Tell Basta team soon!

Comments (View)
Oct
12th
Fri
permalink

Small Finds at Tell Basta

Today’s blog post is written by Jens, one of the Tell Basta Team:

Hi. My name is Jens. I am 25 years old and I have studied Egyptology in Göttingen/ Germany. I am glad to get the chance to write a little bit about my work in Tell Basta. I’m here in Egypt for the second time. During my first campaign with the Tell Basta Project I was able to look into the different parts of the excavation work. Because of my final thesis „The Ptolemaic temple in the Egyptian economic system“ I am very interested in transferring my theoretical knowledge into practical usage. Therefore I chose the small finds to get more information about the ancient Egyptian economic system of the temple of Bastet. The origin of the small finds tells us something about the relationships of the different trade-partners. Including numerous coins, around 400 pieces have been found, indicating the wealth of the temple and the size of the trades. They are an important help for dating the different phases of the temple.

Jens examining a coin

As well as the coins the objects include e. g. bones, metallic objects, various statuettes, weights and amulets. Although objects of terracotta, faience and glass will be analyzed by other members of the Tell Basta Project Team they will be part of my studies.

Jens examining a small find

While older publications only connect ancient receipts with modern economic theories to get a theoretical background about the ancient economic system, I hope to create a more practical connection to these theories.

Because this kind of analysis is a relatively new one, this work is an important step to discovering new information about the ancient Egyptian economic system.

Comments (View)
Oct
8th
Mon
permalink

3-d scanning and the Dromos

We’ve had a busy few days at Tell Basta. The excavation is developing very well; three new grid-squares in the entrance area are now under intensive study. While two of the squares belong to the area of the tower houses in front of the temple, one square is situated directly on the axis of the temple leading to the remains of the Tell of the ancient city of Bubastis in the east. Here, we hope to detect traces of the building history of the so called Dromos, described by Herodotus, a kind of avenue, embellished with fine stones and flanked by tall trees. This street surely represented one of, if not the major streets of the city at least from the Third Intermediate Period onwards. However, work in this area is very difficult because we have to remove thick layers of recent debris, wind-blown sand and mud brought here by old Nile inundations and rainfall as well.

Work in the Tower House area

Most of those layers are documented and removed now, so that the next few days should bring the first results, Insch’allah!

Work in the Dromos area

Also new members have arrived in the last week, starting their various projects connected to the current excavation as well as to some long-term projects. Our surveyor, Thomas Bauer, arrived two days ago and has already begun to build the map of the ancient site which encompasses at least 55 ha. Yesterday afternoon we surveyed of the borders of the southern channel of the so called “Isheru” (the sacred lake), surrounding the temple of Bastet, excavated by our Egyptian colleagues in 2008, in order to reconstruct this very important part of the ancient sacred landscape of Bubastis. The next exciting task for Thomas, who will be joined by his colleague Mark in two days, is the three-dimensional scanning of missing parts of the  monumental statue of Ramses II, which is being restored and reconstructed. He will also three-dimensionally scan some of the other statues and reliefs of the temple. We are especially looking forward to seeing the results of the three dimensional laser-scan which Thomas and Mark will start in the vast necropolis area to the north of the temple, which includes the cemeteries of the Old and Middle Kingdom with massive tomb buildings of mud brick as well as the famous and unparalleled palace of the time of Amenemhet III. Here, within a few days, we will have a perfect three dimensional scale to scale image of the whole landscape.

Also our animal friends from the last season returned, first of all Nectanebo, who came to us as a small puppy one year ago and has now become a grown-up beauty, and  behaves as our guardian dog and tries to chase and bark away any beings, human or animal, which seem potentially dangerous to him. Sometimes he brings his whole family up to the site and we have the pleasure of being surrounded by up to five cheerful dogs!

The dogs of Tell Basta

Comments (View)
Sep
25th
Tue
permalink

The Temple of Bastet and statue fragments

During the first week at Tell Basta work took place at several sites - one of them was the Temple of Bastet. Here, as usual, the so called Halfa-grass had grown up over the summer and had to be cut back, to enable Theresa, who is studying the statues of the Great Temple of Bastet, to continue her work.

Cutting the grass in the temple of Bastet

Cutting the grass in the temple of Bastet

She has reconstructed broken statues from the fragments documented in the last few seasons and reached now the stage of producing drawings of the reconstructed parts. This work is quite difficult and takes a lot of time and patience. Every fragment must be exactly measured and fitted together with the other fragments to provide us with an idea of the statue as it once impressed the visitors to the temple. 

 Reconstruction of a sitting statue from the Peristyle Court of Osorkon I. (Drawing: Theresa Steckel).

Reconstruction of a sitting statue from the Peristyle Court of Osorkon I. (Drawing: Theresa Steckel).

One part of our work at the site is the re-erecting of a royal colossal standing statue of pink granite which was broken into many fragments.  Last March, Theresa found a vital further piece of this statue, which is very important for its reconstruction. The fragment is weathered and its left part was deeply buried in the ground, therefore it was hard to recognize and it needed the trained eye of someone used to dealing with weathered pink granite statues and fragments (quite a rare specialization we like to think!) to identify it. It lies in situ in the Festival Hall of Osorkon II (22nd dynasty). Only the right foot, part of the negative space to the left foot and the base are preserved. One aim of this campaign is to excavate the foot and reunite it with the other fragments of the same monumental statue, which are currently situated beside the Open Air Museum of Tell Basta -  where they were brought last season to be cleaned and prepared for reconstruction by our restorers.

 The fragments of the colossal statue beside the Open Air Museum

The fragments of the colossal statue beside the Open Air Museum

Yesterday we started to excavate the fragment. First our workman removed the earth around the base and then lifted it with a car jack. Thanks to his experience our workman was able to move the foot into its correct position in less than two hours.  So, many thanks to our worker Ala!

The fragment of the foot in situ with Ala working on it..

The fragment of the foot in situ with Ala working on it.. 

But which king does the statue represent and where was it erected? Well, only thirteen fragments of the statue are preserved in total. The king wears a short pleated kilt and the Crown of Upper Egypt. The left side of the statue is destroyed resulting from the fall (probably by an earthquake). The statue was usurped by Ramesses II (19th dynasty) and once again by his successor Osorkon II; the inscriptions on the back pillar show the names of both kings.

But this statue was not originally made for Ramesses II. It likely represents Sesostris I from the Middle Kingdom and was erected in atempleofRamesses IIinMemphis. During the Third Intermediate Period the statue was moved to Bubastis by Osorkon II and set in the Festival Hall of the Great Temple of Bastet (south of the axis of the temple). A second statue, also with the White Crown, was erected north of the axis of the temple.

In a few days we are going to undertake a three dimensional laser scan of the foot. With the data from this scan we will be able to create a new scale to scale model of the statue which is essential for the process of its final reconstruction and re-erection. 

Comments (View)
Sep
20th
Thu
permalink

The ‘Dromos’ and Area A

"It is SO hot!" is the most common phrase at the site now. Cairo welcomed us with high temperatures as usual in autumn, and as usual we need some days to adapt to the temperatures.

Besides struggling with high temperatures, we enjoyed a very smooth start of the season. After fetching our papers from the MSA in Cairo, we went to Zagazig and were able to start work at the site right away: Yesterday was the first day of the season. At the moment only two team members are present (Eva Lange, Theresa Steckel), but our fellow team members are following very soon.

We found Tell Basta safe and sound and started with a cheerful reunion with our Egyptian colleagues in the Inspectorate as well as with our workers who were already waiting for us. After discussing our plans for the season we went to the site. There, Theresa supervised the cleaning of a part of the temple from the ubiquitous and pertinacious Halfa-grass, which is covering some of the parts of the statues she has currently been documenting to complete the catalogue of the numerous fragments of royal monumental statues found in the temple of Tell Basta.

At the same time, I went to Area A, the area in front of the temple pylon, which is under investigation for 3 years now. Here we discovered a complex remains of buildings made of mud brick (mostly so-called “tower houses”), presumably belonging to auxiliary buildings of the temple of Bastet. We have made big progress in understanding the layout of the temple precinct in recent years.

Our special interest focuses now on the investigation of part of Area A, where the ancient dromos leading to the temple must once have been situated. This dromos is very famous due to the description given by Herodotus when he talks about the temple and town of Bastet. It seems to have been pretty monumental, very broad and long, neatly  paved with stones, connecting the center of the city with the temple of its goddess.

The completion of the excavation of Area A is a still a main target too because only the excavation of a relatively big area will provide us with reliable information about the character and building history of the buildings in front of the temple entrance.

According to our working schedule we started with the cleaning of grid square Y/2, which is situated directly on the axis of the temple. The dromos must once have crossed exactly that gridsquare. Here we hope to find out more about the building history of the dromos. 

Grid Square Y2

Comments (View)