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View the Printer Friendly Version of this Page THE 1998 FIELD SEASON
In the 1998 season, the forth season of the UCL-SCA co-operative project from 11th April - 17 May 1998, the main objectives were:
  1. Clarify the architecture of the mortuary complex and the contents of the Early Dynastic tomb (970), which was revealed at the end of last season, and is believed to belong to a local ruler.
  2. To investigate further the enigmatic area to the West of grave 970, which was found to be made up of cereal phytoliths and aeolian sand?
  3. To excavate an area at the most northerly extent of the cemetery.
  4. The recording by photographic, drawn, and written mediums of the artefacts from the graves.
  5. The excavation and analysis of the skeletal material.
  6. Analysis of the ceramics and other artefacts.
  7. The teaching of excavation methodology and practice to students.
  8. To formulate a strategy for the next excavation season in Winter 1998.
This season 14 newly exposed graves were excavated and 3 exposed last season had their excavations' completed: a mud filled grave, 974, which was found to contain hundreds of potsherds coming from mainly beer jars, and also some Egyptian alabaster sherds and a broken sandstone quern; a child's burial with a Wadjet-eye amulet, grave 998; and grave 970 (fig, 15).

In the 1996 season grave 970 was thought to contain either 3 ante-chambers, or be cut by three later graves. It was indeed discovered in the 1998 season that all three of these possible ante-chambers were in fact Late Period to Ptolemaic graves, Nos. 1000, 1006 and 1013 each cutting the outside of the large Early Dynastic grave. The final dimensions of this rectangular Early Dynastic grave were 6 m North-South by 4 m East-West. In the South of grave 970 was found a large pottery cache consisting of beer jars, wine jars, and a large storage jar with its lid and pot stand. Many of these vessels were inscribed with pot marks. In the western central area of the grave was found a stone vessel cache consisting of Egyptian alabaster vases and bowls of slate. In the eastern central area was found evidence of a robbers’ trench where the body was expected to lie, and all that was found in this area were a few scattered slate beads, broken slate bracelets, small stone vessel sherds, and a large pot stand. In the northern part of the grave were found a stack of 5 pottery bowls, and 5 pottery plates with associated animal bones on them, and a retouched pressure flaked flint knife.

Figure 15. Excavation of Grave 970.

The enigmatic area to the West of Grave 970 was found to be part of a palaeo-water channel. This channel is 10 meters wide and consists of grits and gravel rich in fish bones and freshwater bivalves, overlaying this in the western part of the channel is a covering of cereal phytoliths and aeolian sand. This palaeo-water channel crosses the whole site in a North-South direction, and possibly pre-dates the early cemetery by a 1000 years or more.

Figure 16. Excavation of Square 105 in the northern part of the Western Cemetery.

A 10 m by 5 m trench was dug in the northern part of the cemetery, the western half of this trench produced 8 burials in 7 small oval graves and one larger double grave, these burials seem to contain mainly children and youths. One of the graves, 1010, contained a very disarticulated skeleton. The eastern side of the trench held 3 small graves and one large ovoid grave, 1008. In grave 1008 were found a slate make-up palette with 8 small faience cones beneath it, also found were a deliberately broken copper chisel, basalt dish, Egyptian alabaster bowl, agate and slate beads and 13 pottery jars. On one of the large (Type III) storage jars with scollop decoration around its shoulder was found a serekh with an early form of the ka sign in the lower compartment indicating the King's name – Horus Ka. However, at this early date it may be better to read the sign as shn (Sekhen), the embracer or protector (of Horus). This jar is comparable to a jar found at Helwan dated to Nagada IIIB. This northerly part of the cemetery seems to be older than the southern part where Grave 970 was found, with the majority of graves dating to Nagada IIIA-B instead of Dynasty I. The bottom of the graves in this area were found to be very damp, and for this reason focus will be placed in this area next season to rescue the archaeology most threatened by the rise in the water table. This season, as with the previous seasons, large rough ware potsherds, probably from cooking potstands, were found associated with the vast majority of the graves, purposely placed near various parts of the body, such as the face, feet or sacrum.
 All material © Copyright of Fekri A. Hassan 2003.
 Last Updated: 17th August 2003