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View the Printer Friendly Version of this Page THE 1998/9 FIELD SEASON
The team, headed by Prof. Fekri A. Hassan, resumed work from 14th December 1998 to 17th January 1999, with an enlarged fieldschool and team of archaeologists. The objectives of the fifth season of the UCL-SCA co-operative project were:
  1. To define the full extent of the Predynastic cemetery.
  2. To finish excavation in the most northerly extent of the cemetery that was started last season.
  3. The recording by photographic, drawn, and written mediums of the artefacts from the graves.
  4. The excavation and analysis of the skeletal material.
  5. Analysis of the ceramics and other artefacts.
  6. The teaching of excavation methodology and practice to students.
  7. To formulate a strategy for the next excavation season in Autumn 1999.
This season 43 graves were excavated, 25 Predynastic graves and 18 Late Period to Ptolemaic graves. However, due to the poor preservation of the osteological material, only 14 of the 25 Predynastic graves had surviving remains of burials. Of the 18 Late Period to Ptolemaic graves discovered, only 2 were fully excavated, and both were found to contain poorly preserved skeletal remains. All the Late Period to Ptolemaic burials were found in the South of the site. Of the 4 Predynastic graves found in the South of the site, one of them contained a pottery coffin, grave 1025. The palaeo-water channel was also fully uncovered in the South of the site. This channel is 10 meters wide and consists of grits and gravel rich in fish bones and freshwater bivalves. Overlaying this layer in the Western part of the channel is a covering of cereal phytoliths and aeolian sand. This palaeo-water channel pre-dates the early cemetery, possibly by 2000 years or more.

Figure 17. Pottery coffin found in Grave 1025 situated in the southern part of the Western Cemetery.

The North of the site proved to have a high density of Predynastic burials, six of which deserve special mention. Many pieces of jewellery were found in this area, consisting of semi-previous stone beads, shells and faience. However, the most impressive finds of this season were a make-up palette with inlays and traces of gold, another broken copper chisel and five copper needles. A well preserved skeleton in sq. 108D had four rough ware potsherds placed around the body, but no grave goods. Another grave in 108D, 1037, had no skeletal remains, but 2 large storage containers, 2 pottery vases, and a make-up palette with inlays and traces of gold on it. The largest grave found this season was grave 1041, 220cm North-South by 143cm East-West. It was a mud-filled grave, and contained 9 pottery vases, a wavy-lined decorated storage jar, a large flared rimed bowl, and two un-decorated storage vessels. Also found in this tomb was half of a deliberately broken copper alloy chisel. The most enigmatic burials were 1015, 1027, and 1028, in sq. 106. The disarticulated burial 1015, with 4 skulls in it overlay the two lower primary burials, 1027 and 1028. Grave 1028 was a single inhumation, whereas 1027 seems to have had a male, female and child buried in it. There were fine ware vessels associated with this burial, and jewellery made from beads of semi-precious stones. Also associated with this burial were 5 copper needles, associated with the legs of the woman. Three more potmarks were also found this season, one of them in 1028.

Figure 18. Geoffrey Tassie and Richard Lee excavating grave 1041 assisted by Serena and local girls.
 All material Copyright of Fekri A. Hassan 2003.
 Last Updated: 17th August 2003