Landscape Archaeology and Networks of Settlements
The area covered by the survey is in the northern region of the western Delta, in the governorate of Kafr esh-Shaikh (fig.1). The survey area surrounds the city of Buto up until a distance of approximately 15 km. The northern border of the area is about 30 km south of the coast of the Mediterranean sea and about 15 km south of the Burullus Lake. In the first phase in spring 2010 a section east of Buto was investigated.
The northern central Delta has received very little archaeological attention. Apart from a few short studies from the first half of the 20th century, this zone remained largely outside of Egyptological interest. Connected to the excavations at Buto, some surveys have been undertaken in the vicinity of the city. (fig. 2)
The northern central Delta, south of the coastal lagoons and between the Nile branches of Rosette and Damiette, has received very little archaeological attention. Apart from a few short studies from the first half of the 20th century (Hogarth 1904; Edgar 1911; Daressy 1926), this zone remained largely outside of Egyptological interest. Since the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, the area has, thanks to the efforts of the Delta-Survey of the Egypt Exploration Society (http://www.deltasurvey.ees.ac.uk/DSintro.html) and the projects connected with it (Spencer 1992; Wilson und Grigoropoulos 2009) returned to the focus of the scientific community. The city of Buto, due to its importance in antiquity and the extensive archaeological work undertaken there by the German Archaeological Institute, Cairo (see information on Buto), holds a unique position in the western part of this northern region. Connected to the excavations at Buto, surveys have been undertaken in the vicinity of the city (von der Way 1984; Ballet und von der Way 1993; Wunderlich 1989).
The aim of the survey is to investigate the region surrounding the city of Buto. Both the history of settlements in this area and the reconstructions of the ancient landscape and its changes over time are topics of investigation (fig.3).
The link between these two aspects manifests itself in the Delta in many ways. Changes in the courses of the branches of the Nile have crucial consequences for the distribution of settlements. Water-ways constitute the vital connections. Existence, importance, new foundations and abandonment of settlements are to a high degree linked to these conditions. But also massive human interventions into the landscape, such as the draining of wide swaths of land and the construction of new routes of transport are observable in this zone of the Delta. These phenomena are not only discernable for the modern age, but also for antiquity. The mapping of sites will form the basis for reconstructing the network of settlements in this region. One of the issues to be clarified is the relationship between the diachronic changes in the network of settlements and the settlement history of the central city Buto. This question is especially of interest against the background of the remarkable gap in the settlement at Buto in the late 3rd and 2nd millennium BC.
Based on the study of maps (e.g. Description de l’Egypte, Survey of Egypt, Atlas by Daressy) and satellite images sites are charted. These sites are then surveyed on the surface. Their preservation is documented, monuments are recorded and surface pottery is collected. Some find spots are mapped with a total-station. Selected sites are further investigated by drill coring. The drilling serves to clarify the stratigraphy and the ground, on which the settlement was erected. Next to individual drill cores, drill core lines (a series of drill cores on the same axis) are employed. With the help of the latter, a profile through the Tell can be gained.
In spring 2010 the first season took place. 11 sites were visited in an area to the east of Buto. Of those sites, four settlement mounds, Kom el-Asfar, Kom Saleh, Kom el-Gir and Kom Sidi Salem (fig 6) were investigated more thoroughly by auger coring.
In spring 2010 the first season took place. 11 sites were visited in an area to the east of Buto. Of those sites, four settlement mounds, Kom el-Asfar (31°13’04.59’’ N/30°48’18.11’’ E), Kom Saleh (31°12’07.12’’ N/30°49’00.62’’ E), Kom el-Gir (31°13’27.15’’ N/30°46’29.81’’ E) and Kom Sidi Salem (31°16’06.13’’ N/30°49’32.63’’ E) (fig.6) were investigated more thoroughly by auger coring. Kom el-Asfar, based on preliminary results, dates back to the Third Intermediate Period, making it the oldest site in the investigated area. The settlement was founded on a gezira (Arabic: island; geologically it refers to sandy mounds above the flood level).
The most intense occupation of the area seems to be in the Roman period, with a strong emphasis on late antiquity. Kom Saleh has entirely disappeared above ground, and below the present surface only a very thin settlement layer remains. The settlement was also founded on a gezira. Kom el-Gir was erected on an alluvial levee. In the western part of Kom el-Gir orthogonally laid out settlement structures are clearly visible. At Kom Sidi Salem an auger core of 16 m depth was achieved; thus, the ground beneath the settlement layers could be reached. As Roman pottery was retrieved from the lowest settlement layers, this is suggested as the period, when the site was founded.
Dr. Ulrich Hartung, DAI Cairo
Dr. Pascale Ballet, Université de Poitiers, France
Dr. Janine Bourriau, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, GB
Prof. Dr. Joanne Rowland, Freie Universität Berlin
Dr. Penelope Wilson, Dept. of Archaeology, Durham University, GB
P. BALLET und TH. VON DER WAY, Exploration archéologique de Bouto et de sa region (époques romaine et byzantine), MDAIK 49, 1993, 1-22.
G. DARESSY, Recherches Géographiques, ASAE 26, 1926, 246-272.
C.C. EDGAR, Notes from the Delta, ASAE 11, 1911, 87-96.
D.G. HOGARTH, Three North Delta Nomes, Journal of Hellenic Studies 24, 1904, 1-19.
A.J. SPENCER, Roman Sites in the Northwest Delta, in: Festschrift L. Kakosy, Studia Aegyptiaca 14, Budapest 1992, 535-539.
T. VON DER WAY, Untersuchungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Kairo im nördlichen Delta zwischen Disûq und Tida, MDAIK 40, 1984, 297 – 328.
P. WILSON and D. GRIGOROPOULOS, The West Delta Regional Survey, Beheira and Kafr esh-Sheikh Provinces, EES EM 86, Oxford 2009.
J. WUNDERLICH, Untersuchungen zur Entwicklung des westlichen Nildeltas im Holozän, Marburger Geographische Schriften 114, 1989.