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KAFR HASSAN DAWOOD On-Line

View the Printer Friendly Version of this Page RESEARCH METHODS
Contents:

 
Archaeological excavations
 Bioanthropological investigations
 Conservation
 Artefact analysis
 Spatial analysis of graves and grave goods distribution
Archaeological excavations:

The strategy and field procedure employed at Kafr Hassan Dawood, represent the most appropriate techniques for obtaining data applicable to the overall aims of the project. The aim of the excavation methodology employed at KHD was to optimise data collection with greater control of the application and recording methods. Prior to excavation, a recording system was devised to keep a tight control on the contexts excavated, including the features. The recording system consisted of an excavation manual to explain how the site was to be excavated and recorded, and recording sheets to record the information. (see figure 48).

1) Keep it as efficient as possible and to suit the Nile Delta's excavation conditions.

2) To be able to reconstruct the site in detail using a computer, context by context.

To keep a tighter control on the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the excavation the site was divided into 10 m grid units, with a site datum set at 100 m a.s.l.. After the overburden of aeolian sand was removed by mechanical plant, excavation of the individual contexts was followed; arbitrary 10 cm spits were also used if deemed necessary. Each context, feature and artefact was recorded in situ, by photographic, written and the drawn media. This is so they can be traced to their exact stratigraphic layer within the archaeological matrix. Consolidation of the bones (and artefacts) was undertaken as they were being excavated, in consultation with the site conservator, or block-lifted to be excavated under more controlled conditions in the laboratory. Sediment samples were taken from each context and feature level, and these were graded by texture, Munsell colour number, and consistency. The skeletal material was exposed using soft brushes and bamboo sticks. All excavated materials were screened and examined for microarchaeological remains using flotation and/or dry sieving.

An overall strategy during the past two seasons at Kafr Hassan Dawood has been directed toward achieving certain crucial hypothesis-related aims and objectives, in regard to (a) cost-effectiveness and (b) the constraints of the geography of the site itself. These aims and objectives are:

1) Local social organization and ranking.

2) Political connections with the emerging nation-state.

3) Trade links with Asia and Upper Egypt.

4) Ritual and religious ideology.

5) Diet and health from both social and economic perspectives.

6) Analysis of intra-site organisation, particularly as these relate to site function.

7) Development of a database of the usual sorts of ceramic, epigraphic, architectural, artefactual, technological data. etc., which form the basis of any decent archaeological expedition and excavation.


Figure 36. Excavation and conservation in progress in Square 107.


Figure 37. G. J. Tassie excavating a copper adze in Grave 1041.


Figure 38. Melissa Zabecki and G. J. Tassie finer points of archaeological methodology.


Figure 39. Mustafha Nour El-Dean excavating Grave 1037.


Figure 40. Excavation of Square 106; Hisham El-Sayed Khattab in the foreground and Melissa Zabecki in the background assisted by local workers.


Figure 41. Eric Kansa and Serena Languasco measuring and drawing one of the KHD graves.


Figure 42. Prof. Simon Hillson and Richard Lee recording in the written medium.


Figure 43. Excavating and recording of Grave 1041.


Figure 44. Clearance of the overburden by mechanical plant.


Figure 45. Melissa Zabecki, Nassrallah Fat-hi Kilany and Mustafha Nour El-Dean excavating graves 1001 and 1003.


Figure 46. Hiroshi Hirayama and Eric Kansa dry sieving.


Figure 47. Post-excavation processing of the finds in the Field Archaeology and Research Centre.


Figure 48. The obverse and reverse of the single context recording form used at KHD.


Figure 49. Joanne M. Rowland excavating the pottery coffin in Grave 1025.


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Bioanthropological investigations:

Introduction

Due to the lack of qualified bioarchaeologists working at Kafr Hassan Dawood, and generally throughout the East Delta Inspectorates, Prof. Fekri A. Hassan enlisted the support of Dr Nancy Lovell (
see history of the site) and her team of physical anthropologists (Tracy Prowse and Andrew Johnston) from the University of Alberta for a preliminary season of investigations in 1995 (see 1995 season). This season showed that valuable information on the age at death, sex, health and diet could be retrieved from the fragmentary skeletal remains. In the 1996 Season Dr Teri L. Tucker and Prof. Simon Hillson took over of the examination of the human remains, assisted from 1998 by Melissa Zabecki.

In 1996 Tucker and Hillson conducted an investigation of the burials excavated prior to 1995, which had been left in situ. Although not all 921 graves previously excavated were still available, the western, earliest section of the excavations had been backfilled, hundreds of graves with their skeletal remains and associated grave goods still remained, exposed to the elements. About 200 graves had been enclosed in a metal structure covered with plastic in an attempt to create an on-site museum (see history section). The fluctuating climatic conditions of the Nile Delta, with high summer temperatures and where the mid to high winter day-time temperature gets rapidly cooler in the night, sometimes falling below freezing, combined with high, fluctuating water-table and sporadic winter showers led to the exceedingly poor condition the skeletal material left open to the elements. The skeletal remains (and grave goods) in the tent-like structure had faired no better, for there was no climatic control and the micro-climate that was created meant that the day-time temperature was increased by the structure, which also created condensation that rained down on the graves. As many of the skeletons and grave goods were on pedestals capillary action brought water to them, resulting in thick salt encrustations and the bones becoming very fragmentary, many turning to dust. Out of the hundreds of graves still left in situ, valuable information was obtained by Tucker and Hillson from no more than 33 of the skeletons.

Therefore, because of the lack of bioarchaeologists in the East Delta Inspectorate, a major part of the research at KHD has been an intensive physical anthropology training programme for the Egyptian Inspectors and international students. This programme included hands-on training in field methodology and laboratory techniques, followed-up by a series of lectures.

Research Design

The research strategy for KHD incorporated key topics regarding how bioarchaeological methods can be employed in discerning taphonomic processes, diet reconstruction, and quality of life from skeletal remains. These questions were used to construct a research strategy which served to anchor and direct the field investigations. The following objectives were consistently addressed:

A) Training of Egyptian personnel in the methods of bioarchaeology.
    The development of a protocol for excavation, conservation and lab methods.

B) Specific bioarchaeological analyses to employ:

    1) Mortality: Age and sex of sample

    2) Quality of life
        a) the collection of age-specific pathology
        b) the collection of degenerative joint disease indicators
        c) the collection of trauma frequency
        d) the collection of data relating to infection, whether metabolic, systemic or local, active or remodelled
        e) the collection of childhood stress indicators

   3) Diet reconstruction
        a) dental wear, samples for enamel microwear, caries frequency
        b) presence of porotic hyperostosis/cribra orbitalia
        c) samples collected for carbon isotope/ collagen, trace elements, diagenesis, Pb Sr/c analyses
        d) the incidence and location of calculus

   4) Population affiliation
        a) collection of samples for ancient DNA analysis
        b) collection of dental morphological traits for comparison with other Predynastic populations
        c) collection of metric and discrete traits for comparison with other relevant skeletal populations

C) Taphonomy
    Construction of a model of taphonomic processes

D) Burial Patterns
    How does mortuary distribution reflect cultural, regional, and environmental use?

Each of these questions and objectives as related to the bioarchaeological fieldwork were addressed in the various seasons and some of the results are presented on the following pages of this report, although a fuller account must wait until the final report/monographs.

Bioarchaeology Field Methodology

For each grave that was uncovered (a distinction is here made between a grave, which includes the substructure, superstructure, grave goods and skeletal remains and a burial, which is just the human remains and grave goods) a bioarchaeologist was present, often complimented by a conservator. These two specialists, along with the field supervisor decided on the best means of excavating the grave to retrieve as much information as possible regarding the: grave cut, grave fill, and/or substructure and superstructure, grave goods and human remains. This means that each grave was given individual attention in relation to its own unique situation. Sometimes, it was deemed necessary to block-lift the skeletal remains (and/or grave goods) for excavation in controlled laboratory conditions.

Each grave feature was excavated following the natural grave cut, carefully removing the grave fill sediment, slowly exposing the grave goods and skeletal remains within, thus leaving the shape of the grave as it was originally cut. The burial matrix - grave fill, was dry sieved to retrieve any bone fragments, teeth or small artefacts that may otherwise be missed. The excavation of the actual skeletal remains was conducted with wooden bamboo skewers (see figures 52 & 54).

In general, consolidants were not used if at all possible, as they may enhance the deterioration of the osteological material. In addition, small grains of sand can become glued to the surface of the bone. However, the skeletal material at Kafr Hassan Dawood was brittle and friable due to the high alkaline environment, and often damp, particularly in the northern part of the site. Therefore, as the skeletal material became exposed, consolidant was applied to the osteological material. The substrate would be cleaned as far as possible prior to application, using wooden sticks, hog’s hair and sable brushes. More bone was then exposed, a little at a time, and consolidated in the same manner. Originally, up to 1998, Paraloid B72 had been used to consolidate material in the field. However, once it was established that the vast majority of material in the field was damp, Amanda Sutherland the site conservator in discussion with Teri Tucker and Simon Hillson, introduced a new consolidant for field conservation: Paraloid B72 in acetone being immiscible with water. The new consolidant chosen was Primal WS24 (acrylic colloidal dispersion). This was diluted to a 15% v/v solution in tap water and applied by pipette, syringe or sable brush, whichever was appropriate. For highly fragmentary areas of bone a 20% v/v solution was used to impart greater strength although this was the maximum concentration which could be used to achieve penetration. Only one application can be undertaken with this consolidant (acrylic polymer) since, being a colloidal dispersion, it is insoluble in its application medium (water) once it has dried. The solution was used not only to consolidate weak bone but was also used to consolidate hair-line cracks in damp ceramic or generally for very weak low-fired damp ceramic in the field. The consolidant and substrate would then be allowed to dry.

It was important to keep the skeletal material in the shade during excavation. To facilitate this, a make-shift shade or a beach umbrella was used to provide the necessary protection (see figure 59). When the skeletal remains had to be left in the field during the midday heat, a cover of jute sacks moistened with water proved to be both practical and helpful. Once fully uncovered the grave was planned at a scale of 1:5, colour, black and white and digital photographs taken. The bones were then all measured in situ, noting any pathological lesions (figure 55). Most of the burials consisted of single skeletons, usually laid out in the foetal position, although a number of the graves comprised of multiple disarticulated burials (see figures 52 & 53). The bones were carefully removed from their matrix for further examination in the laboratory. The standard procedure used for recovery of the fragile bones and particularly the long bones was to encompass them with crushed aluminium foil carefully packed against the surfaces to provide additional support (see figure 57). This would be done progressively for some bones whilst they were being exposed and often subsequent to consolidation. However, in areas of particular complexity in the multiple inhumations, where the crania, jaws and upper spinal regions where information retrieval was particularly crucial in terms of recovery of the teeth, which were often cracked, delaminated, fragile, prone to loss and had frequently fallen out, being found within the matrix surrounding jaw bones and faces. In such cases it was decided that blocking-lifting with additional support was a suitable technique to use, thereby enabling more careful excavation in a controlled environment. An added advantage was that block-lifts can be inverted, allowing access to the other side of a deposit. Any such decisions were taken by the conservator in consultation with the project director, field supervisor, bioarchaeologists and those who worked in the excavation area. Deciding factors were the aims of excavation and information retrieval.

After excavation, all human bone material was transported to the osteology laboratory located at the site. All bones were further cleaned in the laboratory using wood and bamboo tools (see figure 58) and were laid out in anatomical order. Broken elements were glued (using HMG cellulose nitrate adhesive) and allowed to dry. The reconstructed skeleton was inventoried using two separate forms which initially were used in the field for recording burial information in situ and then further completed upon laboratory analyses (figure 56). The first form includes a set of three diagrams of the human skeleton, showing anterior, posterior and left lateral views. Bones pictured were shaded to indicate presence or absence. The second form was a listing of specific bones which were numerically scored according to presence and completeness. After all skeletal material was inventoried on paper, it was recorded into the Standardized Osteological Database (SOD) developed in conjunction with the Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains (Buikstra and Ubelaker 1994) before leaving the field. The SOD consists of 12 tables of skeletal information and 11 tables of dental information. The recording of all skeletal material from KHD in the SOD ensured that the maximum amount of skeletal information was obtained in a format that is conducive for comparison with other data for future osteological analyses.

No destructive techniques were employed. Only data obtained from macro-observations of gross pathology were collected for study. Specific skeletal data collected include: demographic characters (age, sex, ancestry), gross skeletal lesions (e.g., cribra orbitalia, infections), adult stature, sexual dimorphism, discrete traits, enamel defects (linear enamel hypoplasia), dental pathologies, dental morphology, calculus frequency, dental asymmetry, dental wear, evidence of trauma, metabolic disease, cranial deformation and trephination. Unfortunately, due to dioagenetic processes, the bones do not contain enough organic material for either DNA of Stable Isotope Analysis to be conducted.

Space was provided on the inventory forms for designating pathological lesions (infection, degeneration, nutritional disorders, and trauma), anomalies, and antemortem and postmortem modifications. Special consideration was given to determining primary reactions as opposed to secondary or healing lesions. Initial observations were made during the inventory process and subsequent discoveries were noted and added during later phases of analysis. Pathological diagnosis was made by gross observation. However, the poor preservation of most of the skeletal remains at KHD resulted in little information relating to pathologies.

Sex determination was not attempted for subadults. Sex for adults was determined by standards of overall robusticity, as well as observations of cranial and pelvic morphology (when preservation allows). The greatest emphasis was placed on pelvic morphology when preservation allowed, while secondary sex traits received lower weightings. Adult age was estimated primarily from metamorphic changes in the pubic symphysis. Subadult ages were derived primarily from dental development. Once all individuals were aged by these methods they were seriated and again aged to control for biasing and promote cross-referencing among all skeletal indicators of age.

Following sex and age estimation, 34 cranial and mandibular measurements and 44 post-cranial measurements were attempted. These are comparable to most traditionally taken on Egyptian skeletal material. However, most of the cranial and post cranial material at KHD was not conducive to taking measurements. When applicable, skeletal measurements (in millimetres) were taken using spreading callipers, sliding callipers, an osteometric board, and a vinyl tape measure. Long bone measurements were used to calculate sexual dimorphism and were used in conjunction with dental ages to calculate growth rates.

Due to the limits of the preservation of the skeletal material at KHD, most of the data obtained for initial analyses were focused on the dentition. Dental recording includes set (deciduous or permanent) and presence/absence information, tooth eruption, alveolar resorbtion, calculus deposits scored by degree, presence and location of all caries and abscesses, dental wear and abrasion.

Just as photographic documentation in the field is crucial, so is photographic documentation in the laboratory. During laboratory analyses, systematic black and white (35mm) photographs were taken of all skeletal material as a visual archive. Colour slides were taken of features that may be difficult to discern in black and white or where there is any unusual or recurrent pathology. In addition, all complete crania were photographed from the anterior, lateral, superior, and basal aspects. Close-up photographs were taken on any skeletal element used in determination of sex or age. For example, in the estimation of sex, cranial features such as mastoid process, nuchal ridge, glabella, etc. were photographed in black and white film.

Close-up photos were also employed for inventorying the dentition. All dental arcades, as well as isolated teeth, were photographed from the labia/buccal, lingual and occlussal aspect. In addition, all teeth scored as pathological or useful in the reconstruction of diet (such as dental wear patterns) were caste. Casting provides a permanent record that can be used for future observations and analyses in diet reconstruction and estimating childhood health. Moulds were made from the selected teeth using a lightbody polysiloxane impression material and were then caste with epoxy resins.

After all skeletal material had been cleaned, analysed, documented, and photographed (or casted); it was packed for temporary curation in the KHD on-site archive. Ideally, all skeletal material should be placed in a well-labelled, acid-free carton, cushioned by inert polyfoam, and stored in an environmentally controlled facility. Permanent markers, not ball-point pens were used for labelling all containers used for curation and storage.

Skeletal Remains from the Excavations Prior to 1995

As stated above, information from 33 skeletons was recovered from the 921 graves excavated prior to the presence of a physical anthropologist on site. Therefore, one of the essential objectives of the 1996 season was to evaluate the previously excavated graves, to salvage as much biological information as possible. These 33 graves examined consisted of 31 Predynastic to Early Dynastic and 2 Late Period to Ptolemaic. Much of the diagnostic skeletal evidence for these burials had been lost due to poor preservation, while other evidence was hidden by copious amounts of resin which could not be removed. However, information regarding the age of 23 burials and sex of 15 burials was salvaged.

The results of this analysis indicate that both males and females are represented; ten males, five females and 18 of unknown sex. Out of the 31 Predynastic to Early Dynastic graves examined, 13 were associated with grave goods and 18 were not. At this point, no overall pattern was discerned regarding status associated with sex. In some instances, males and females were associated with grave goods, while in other examples both males and females lacked burial items. However, five of the graves examined consisted of multiple burials. Except for one multiple grave representing two females (aged 25-35); none of the multiple graves were associated with burial items. In addition, none of the subadults (n=3) were associated with burial goods.

It was possible to assign 24 graves with exact burial positions. Usually, the bodies were interred in a flexed position, resting on the left side, with head north and face east (n=13). However, five burials were interred with head south and face east and the other six burials were either part of multiple burials or individuals buried in different positions. Unfortunately, the poor state of preservation coupled with the masking of osteological material by preservative resins made the observance of pathologies impossible.

It is interesting to note that none of the subadults and four out of five multiple burials were not associated with burial items. In addition, multiple burials were not presented in the 'typical' burial position with head north and face east. Although this might imply that status was achieved, or that multiple burials may be indicative of social differentiation, it cannot be generalised for the entire community. However, these data stimulated questions and created working hypothesis which helped to direct the subsequent field investigations.

Synthesis

The total number of graves now excavated is 1062, 745 of which date to the late Predynastic to Early Dynastic periods; of this 745 graves 302 originally held skeletal remains, containing a total of 333 individuals. From this total of 745 graves, 87, including three multiple burials, have been excavated since 1995 and of this total 45 have been found to contain skeletal remains. Seven more Predynastic graves were found in the 1999 season, these were not fully excavated and are not included in these statistics. Combined with the information gleaned from the 31 Predynastic skeletons from the pre-1995 excavations, information from 81 individuals has been examined.

Many of the burials were tightly flexed: implying that they had been bound before interment, possibly not before the flesh had desiccated. Only 2% of the burials were found loosely flexed. The conclusion is that the KHD burials were bound and left to naturally mummify before being interred in their graves. The most frequent burial position was head north, face east, buried on the left side (n=117), although head south, face east was also encountered (n=15), with 152 in various burial positions and 49 not be discernable. If the multiple burials (n=20) are excluded from these figures, then 109 individuals were buried head north, face east, on their left side, 15 head south, face west, on their left side, 132 in various positions and 35 not being discernable. Information on the burial position of the graves excavated prior to 1995 was gleaned from the photographs, plans and written description of the graves kindly provided by Mr Mohammed Salem El-Hangouri.

Although the majority of the early graves were primary single burials, multiple and secondary burials were also recorded. Three graves excavated since 1995 contained multiple disarticulated burials, with all but one being located in the north of the site. This northern area of the site is the oldest part of the site, and contained one of the largest multiple disarticulated graves (1015), which contained a minimum number of 4 individuals. This grave was dug on top of two other graves, 1027, which contained 2 individuals: a male aged 25-35 years, a female aged 25-35 years and Grave 1028, which contained a male aged 17-25 years. The digging of the later grave, 1015 had disturbed the earlier graves, displacing some of the bones from 1027. It seems likely that these disarticulated bones interred in Grave 1015 were from other graves disturbed by the original excavation of a later Early Dynastic burial, possibly the large mud-filled grave 1041, which lies 27 m to the west of 1015. The burials in this part of the site were so closely packed, and date to the late Predynastic, that it would have been impossible for a large (2.2 m x 1.43 m) Early Dynastic mud-filled grave to have been dug/constructed without disturbing earlier Predynastic graves, which surely were located in this prime area of the cemetery. In conclusion it seems that the bones from these earlier Predynastic graves, 3 possibly 4, were gathered up by the Early Dynastic people constructing the new grave, 1041, and placed in an oval pit 27 m to the east in a semi-orderly, but still commingled arrangement. Why this Early Dynastic mud-filled grave was not located in the south of the site with the rest of the large mud-filled graves, such as 913, 955, 956, and 970, can only be the cause of speculation. However, as it did not contain as much grave wealth as the other large mud-filled graves, and seems to be one of the last graves interred at KHD, it seems likely that there was a desire to be interred in possibly what was seen as the most sacred or holy part of the cemetery - with the ancestors.

Of the burials excavated since 1995, 37 were aged from the dentition, 10 from the long bone length and 13 could not be aged at all. Sex has been determined for only 19 individuals, 11 as female and 8 as male. Because of the small number of aged and sexed individuals, it would be premature to suggest that they were a representative sample of the burial population. However, it can be said that the use of the cemetery was not restricted as to age or sex. Moreover, 94% of the Predynastic to Early Dynastic graves with skeletal material excavated since 1995 have been aged and 38% have been sexed and 38% have been both aged and sexed. If these percentages are transposed on the entire Predynastic to Early Dynastic KHD population so far excavated, it is probable that 313 individuals would have been aged, 127 sexed and 127 both aged and sexed, which would have been a more viable population sample to estimate the demographic structure and help illuminate the social complexity of the site. Therefore, this demonstrates the necessity of having a physical anthropologist on site from the very beginnings of the excavations.

In conclusion, the burials belong to children, juveniles, adults, and old adults of both sexes and were gracile in build. Other than evidence of nutritional stress during childhood, there was no high frequency of diseases. However, although the majority of the KHD population appear to have enjoyed good health, the majority died at between 17-35 years old, although individuals of 50+ have been found. No evidence exists for violent accidents or warfare. Some burials were disturbed by later grave digging in the Late Period or Ptolemaic era. It was noted that individuals interred in simple oval pits exhibited more childhood indicators of stress than individuals from larger and ‘richer’ graves. The presence of calculus and the lack of caries in the skeletal sample of KHD suggest a diet lacking or very low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Diet indicators, such as unusual dental wear patterns, suggest that a substantial part of the subsistence strategy at KHD was fishing, mollusc collecting, fowling and herding of sheep and cattle, possibly supplemented by the small-scale cultivation of cereals. However, just before and during the reign of Narmer, the local elite of KHD were enjoying the sophisticated foodstuffs of wine, beer and bread and possibly milk products, as proven by the large amount of wine jars, beer jars, jar stands, and bread moulds found in the richer graves, such as 890, 913, 956 and 970. However, skeletal material was only retrieved from 956, and that was in a very poor and fragmentary condition, so the dental records from these elite graves cannot corroborate the artefactual evidence.

Applying the bioarchaeological model outlined for this research, the hypothesis that the political and cultural transformation of Egypt was initiated by a change in subsistence strategy, a gradual increase in sedentism and a change in social structure and organisation was tested using data from KHD. Biological diet indicators, such as calculus deposits and dental wear patterns, in addition to the archaeological material record of bone harpoon tips and potmarks of fish, suggest that a major part of the subsistence strategy at KHD was focused on fishing. Although, current archaeological evidence indicates that the emergence of the Egyptian state was enabled by the development of an agriculture-based subsistence strategy, at KHD there is no evidence to indicate that cereals were the mainstay of the diet. In addition, there were no skeletal pathologies consistent with changes in infectious diseases and mortality patterns associated with increased population size or population contact. However the mortuary evidence clearly indicates a change in social differentiation and associated health. Thus, the bioarchaeological evidence at KHD seems to suggest that the community was exploiting regional resources and experiencing a change in social structure and organisation. These data can be interpreted as signifying a temporal trend in declining health possibly associated with the political transformation of local polities in the Delta to a centralised and unified nation state.


Figure 52. Joris van Wetering excavating Grave 1015.


Figure 53. The multiple disarticulated burial in Grave 1015, the targets are for accurate positioning of the plans and photographs to enable an isometric reconstruction of the feature.


Figure 54. The multiple disarticulated burial in Grave 1015.


Figure 55. Dr, Teri Tucker and Bram Calcoen excavating Grave 964.


Figure 56. Dr. Teri Tucker measuring the skeletal remains in Grave 958 in situ, Neil Robson is recording the details.


Figure 57. Dr. Teri Tucker in the Osteology Laboratory measuring bones.


Figure 58. Joris van Wetering excavating Grave 1015 with a bamboo skewer.


Figure 59. Melissa Zabecki cleaning skeletal material in the Osteology Laboratory.


Figure 60. Dr. Teri Tucker, Ahmed Obeid and Bram Calcoen excavating a grave in the baulk in Square 95.


Hassan, F. A., Tucker, T. L., Hillson, S., Rowland, J. M. & Tassie, G. J.

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Conservation:

The emphasis is on preservation and consolidation of the objects; then once an object was stabilized it was often possible to reconstruct it for typological and other analysis. Once it was established that the vast majority of material in the field was damp, the consolidant chosen was Primal WS24 (acrylic colloidal dispersion). This was diluted to a 15% v/v solution in tap water and applied by pipette, syringe or sable brush, whichever was appropriate. The substrate would be cleaned as far as possible prior to application, using wooden sticks, hog's hair and sable brushes. For highly fragmentary areas of bone a 20% v/v solution was used to impart greater strength although this was the maximum concentration which could be used to achieve penetration. Only one application can be undertaken using the consolidant solution since, being a colloidal dispersion, it is insoluble in its application medium (water) once it has dried. The solution was used not only to consolidate weak bone, but also to consolidate hair-line cracks in damp ceramic or generally for very weak low-fired damp ceramic when in the field. The consolidant and substrate would then be allowed to dry. Where ceramic vessels were intact or almost complete, crepe bandage and open-wove gauze bandages would be used together with cling-film to afford greater support to the pots as these were often too heavy to support their own weight.

The standard procedure used for recovery of the fragile bones and particularly the long bones was to encompass them with crushed aluminium foil carefully packed against the surfaces to provide additional support. This would be done progressively for some bones during the process of being uncovered and often subsequent to consolidation. Some burials and objects were also bloc-lifted. Two of the blocks were prepared using two layers of aluminium foil for protection as a separating layer and polyurethane foam (Isocyanate RM6142H ISO) as a support. The foam was initially tested in the field to assess its behaviour, particularly given acquisition and transport from England in a pressurised hold. Aluminium foil had to be packed into the undercuts and excess dirt removed to reduce the weight of the blocks and a card-board box cut to size and a pre-prepared plywood rectangle were used as the block collars. Undercutting was carried out using brushes, wooden sticks, kitchen knives, trowels and flat plywood and a metal baking tray for support for the Gypsona-wrapped blocks and 2 plywood sheets strapped with ropes and belts for the polyurethane foam blocks. Four blocks were lifted using aluminium foil and Gypsona-plaster bandage:

First aid for finds and consolidation of the artefacts was carried out indoors and recorded on A4 sheets for each artefact, pre-prepared for the site whilst at University College London. Pottery vessels were required to be emptied and the contents stored separately for later analysis.


Figure 61. Amanda Sutherland Lifting a pottery vessel in Square 107.






Figure 62. Amanda Sutherland bloc-lifting the burial in Grave 1035.


Figure 63. Amanda Sutherland reconstructing the fragmented pottery recovered from the site.


Figure 64. Amanda Sutherland aided by G. J. Tassie reconstructing pottery vessels.


Figure 65. Walid Kamil Ali reconstructing a pottery vessel.


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Artefact analysis:

All artefacts were catalogued, studied for form, method and material of manufacture, and placed in the site typology. Petrographic analysis of ceramics and stones used in manufacturing vessels was undertaken to provenance the vessels.






Figure 66. Ashraf El-Senoussi measuring, recording and analysing pottery vessels.


Figure 67. Hisham El-Sayed Khattab, Mustafha Nour El-Dean and Ashraf Kamel Hussein recording pottery vessels.


Figure 68. Group pottery processing.


Figure 69. The Pottery Laboratory with the recorded vessels.


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Documentation and data analysis:

A preliminary report was completed in the field from the recording forms and plans and from the minutes of the daily staff meetings. All objects and features are recorded in the field by both digital and chemical photography. Plans and sections are drawn at 1:20 and 1:10 scales respectively, all artefacts are drawn at a scale of 1:1. The data were entered in a computer database and spatial information entered in the GIS whilst in the field.


Figure 70. Raza, taking photograph of Grave 958 for The National Geographic Magazine.


Figure 71. Ken Walton taking a light reading.


Figure 72. Ken Walton taking a photograph.


Figure 73. Ken Walton taking macro-photographs.


Figure 74. Serena Languasco drawing the copper adze from Grave 1041.


Figure 75. Finished drawing of pottery vessel KHD0070 from Grave 1008.


Figure 76. Joanne M. Rowland and Serena Languasco drawing artefacts.


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Spatial analysis of graves and grave goods distribution:

Application of computer based analysis of social status and seriation of grave goods, is compared and correlated with the bioanthropological results.

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 All material © Copyright of Fekri A. Hassan 2003.
 Last Updated: 17th August 2003