KAFR HASSAN DAWOOD
THE 1999 SURVEY OF THE SITE
Initially a programme of field walking was conducted in the South and West of the concession. In the West of the concession were found many Predynastic potsherds, however, the majority were found in the modern cemetery. Presumably these potsherds had been thrown up during the digging of the modern graves. One of the most prominent of these potsherds was that from an Early Dynastic pottery coffin. Although no visible traces of past human activity were found in the South of the concession, a huge depression was noted amongst the huge sand dunes, which in places reach up to 5 metres high. This depression was adjudged to be in the area of the palaeo-water channel trajectory. Field walking was also conducted in Gezira Hadra (Green Island), but no evidence of past human behaviour was found. This area was also found to have a much higher water table than KHD.
This field walking was followed up by talking to the village elders about their memories of the site. One of the major findings to come from these talks was that there were two distinct modern cemeteries in the vicinity, one for the five villages to the West, and another for the five villages to the East. There was also a Christian graveyard in the eastern area as well. The Western cemetery graves in many places are still visible on the surface, and form a straight line North – South in the trajectory of Square 105. The eastern cemetery graves have been totally covered up by aeolian sand, and are not visible on the surface. Also learnt in these talks was the fact that the farmer to the South of the concession is planning on planting fields right up to the road that marks the boundary between the two areas.
A programme of test pits (TP) was formulated by Dr. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman and G. J. Tassie to complement the surveying of the site already conducted in previous seasons. The first test pits, TP 31 and TP 32 (2 x 2 m) were sunk just to the West of the modern cemetery. However, no traces of past human activity were found in them.
Another area for test potting was chosen to the North of the present northerly extent of the Predynastic cemetery. At a distance of 75 metres from Square 105, TP 33 (3 x 2 m) was sunk. This test pit revealed the floodplain, and was dug to a depth of 1 m below datum to get a good idea of the different flood levels stratigraphy, no past human activity was revealed. The next test pit, TP 34 (3 x 2 m), was placed 30 m to the North of squares 105 / 106. At 1 m below datum this test pit revealed a Predynastic grave in its eastern half going into the baulk, and a modern grave in its western half. This placement of graves complied with the hypothesis formulated earlier, that there was a line of modern graves stopping along the western side of the northern trajectory of Square 106. To verify this TP 35 (3 x 2 m) was sunk 53 m directly to the North of Square 106. At a depth of 1 m below datum, three Predynastic graves became apparent, one in the South, one in the West and another in the north-east of the pit. Twenty metres to the East of TP 35, TP 36 was sunk, this as hypothesised, revealed two modern graves at 50 cm below datum. These test pits were all backfilled to protect the graves.
Operations were then moved to the South of the concession, where the depression had been noted during the field walking exercise. At 100 m South of Square 99, on the southward trajectory of the palaeo-water channel, a 10 m East-West by 3 m North-South test pit was sunk, TP 37. At 1 m below datum a gravel and silt layer was noted, in this layer was found many potsherds and evidence of a hearth, containing mollusc shells and charcoal in the West of the pit. Two features were visible in the East of the pit, one a dark brown stain in the shape of a semi-circle, and the other a small round dark brown stain. These were interpreted as possible evidence of a post-hole and edge of a house. At 100 m to the North of TP 37 (2 x 3 m), was sunk TP 38, along side the road that marks the concession boundary. This test pit revealed only aeolian sand and water at a depth of 2 m below datum. The final test pit in the South of the concession, TP 39 (2 x 2 m), was sunk 20 metres East of TP 37, this revealed the gravel and silt layer at 2 m below datum, but with no other features in it.
The test pit programme was then switched to the North of the sit again, and at a distance of 20 m West of TP 35 was sunk TP 40, however, this revealed only a modern grave. Test Pit 41 was sunk 10 metres to the North of TP 35, this was a trench 10 m North-South by 3 m East-West. This trench proved to be the most exciting of all the trenches placed in the North, for it revealed the edge of the floodplain, and a metre away from the floodplain three Predynastic graves became visible at 110 cm below datum. The largest of these graves was 160 cm North-South by 90 cm East-West, and ovoid in shape. These three graves were very close to one another, and may indicate a denser population of graves in this area of the cemetery.
In the 1999 Survey and Study Season, a way through the two modern cemeteries that lie directly to the North of the excavations was found. To explore this area, which is probably the earliest part of the cemetery lying adjacent to the floodplain, a 60 x 20 metre trench has been laid out. This trench will form the core of next season’s excavations.