KAFR HASSAN DAWOOD
THEMES, ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES
The Projectís objectives included:
Excavation to provide an accurate archaeological record of all archaeological remains.
Building up a reference collection with maps, survey and excavation reports, other
relevant reference material, and aerial and terrestrial photographs.
Mapping project, including locating the settlement site and exploring the cemeteryís
relationship with the floodplain with remote sensing techniques.
Systematic recording of the site, and computer aided analysis and GIS.
Analysis of biological and cultural indicators.
An examination of the health and subsistence of the population through the osteological
Pottery analysis, with special emphasis on the pottery of the East Delta.
Research into the cultural dynamics of the whole region, focusing on the Early Bronze
Age trade relations.
Creating a topographic map of the site.
Geoarchaeological analysis (including geomorphology, stratigraphy,
microstratigraphy, microarchaeology and sedimentology) and subsurface investigations
to establish environment of deposition and site formation process
Training of Egyptian and Western personnel in excavation and conservation methods
Protection, conservation and presentation of site.
Enlarging the data-base and statistical analysis of the archaeological material and data
and also finishing the GIS for the site.
Extending and improving the facilities of the excavation centre.
Publishing and presenting results in articles and eventually in a monograph series.
PROBLEMS FACED WHEN EXCAVATING IN THE NILE DELTA
Because of the location of the site, the Delta, the water table is just below the surface. In summer in the North of the site it is 80 cm below surface, and in the South of the site 2-3m below surface. The annual fluctuations of the water table through the millennia have led to the site and artefacts having a high percentage of salinisation. To conduct an excavation of the Predynastic settlement site it will be necessary to remove the water whilst excavating, this will involve the use of water pumps to dispel the water.
A large part of the site is still under aeolian sand dunes which requires their removal before excavation can commence in these areas. The larger tombs such as 970 comprises of compact Nile mud, originally with a tumulus covering it. In some cases this has resulted in the artefacts being crushed, and because of the high water table, leading to them being very friable. However, the vast majority of pottery is found either whole, or nearly whole and most of the pieces are still in situ in the cemetery. Although at the Late Period to Ptolemaic settlement vast amounts of potsherds are to be found on the surface, this is also likely to be the case for the Predynastic settlement area.
In the tombs a high percentage of calcareous material is found, and the skeletal material is often very friable. Where possible it is hoped that both the skeletal material and pottery will be lifted whole, especially in the case of pottery, and treated in the lab at a later date. However, once it was established that the vast majority of material in the field was damp, a new consolidant was introduced for field conservation: Paraloid B72 in acetone being immiscible with water. The alternative used 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. The uncovering of the skeletal material is usually done with a bamboo stick, so as not to damage the fragile osteological material.