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View the Printer Friendly Version of this Page THE 1996 EXCAVATION SEASON
The third UCL-SCA co-operative season was the excavation of the site in July. Before the season started a special recording system was developed to help with the clear, precise and standardised recording of the archaeological material and to aid the analysis and interpretation. The main objectives of this season were:
  1. The full excavation of the South of the Western Cemetery.
  2. The recording by photographic, drawn, and written mediums of the artefacts from the graves.
  3. The excavation and analysis of the skeletal material.
  4. Analysis of the ceramics and other artefacts.
  5. The teaching of excavation methodology and practice to students.
  6. To formulate a strategy for the next excavation season in Spring 1998.

Figure 12. General view of the southern trenches in with G. J. Tassie and Bram Calcoen in the foreground.

This season 41 graves were excavated, 22 Terminal Predynastic to Early Dynastic and 19 Late Period to Ptolemaic. The main objective of the project is to look at the social dynamics of the area during the transitional period of unification c. 3000 BC. Focusing particularly on the trade links between Egypt and Southern Canaan. Great emphasis is placed on examining the biological and cultural indicators, finding any correlates between the two, in respect of status and gender. The investigation of the diet and health of the KHD population is one of the project's main goals, and to this end special human remains excavation and recording techniques have been developed.

Figure 13. Dr, Mohammed Abdul-Rahman Hamden and G. J. Tassie discussing the planning of Grave 970

Most of the early burials were of the simple inhumation type with the burial position being tightly flexed on the left-side with the head to the north facing east, interred in simple oval graves. Three rectangular compact mud-lined graves were also excavated: one was particularly rich in grave goods, including a slate bowl, numerous calcite vessels, and a variety of fine and coarse wares. The most exciting find of the season was that of a large Early Dynastic mud-filled tomb (970), with three ante-chambers or Late Period to Ptolemaic graves cutting it. This large tomb lies to the South of the other large mud-filled tomb (913), found in the 94/5 season by the SCA, and in which was found a pottery jar with the serekh of Narmer inscribed on it. This area has been proposed as an Early Dynastic mortuary complex antedating the pyramid mortuary complexes of both Giza and Saqqara. Archaeological clues have so far led to the conclusion that the subterranean tomb was surmounted by a mound of sand with a shrine on its eastern side, and a ramp of mud leading to the mound from the South. Just West of grave 970 was found a linear feature 10m across running North - South. This feature consisted of grey aeolian sand in its western half, with gravel containing fish bones and teeth and freshwater mollusc remains in its eastern side.

Figure 14. Maybeline Gormley and Prof. Simon Hillson excavating the pottery coffin in Grave 962

A test-pit was started in the North of the site after potsherds from the settlement were discerned at 4 - 5 meters below the surface when drilling augers penetrated the top part of the edge of the floodplain of the Wadi. The Nile flood deposits have been averaged as accumulating at approximately 10 cm per century, burying one of Egypt’s earliest farming communities.
 All material © Copyright of Fekri A. Hassan 2003.
 Last Updated: 17th August 2003