Landscape archaeology and regional settlement networks around Buto
Since 2010 the region around the ancient city of Buto (Tell el-Farain) in the northwest Nile Delta is being investigated by a survey, supported by the Thyssen-foundation. The focus lies on the regional study of the settlement history and the changes of the landscape. The dates of the settlements which have been archaeologically documented range from the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070-664 BC) to the Middle Ages.

Landscape archaeology and regional settlement networks around the site of Tell el-Fara’in (Buto)

While the Nile Delta represents over 50% of the ancient inhabitable and cultivable Egyptian land, its settlement history has to date only been investigated at a few larger settlements and by some extensive surveys. The Delta was characterized by a dynamic landscape. The number and courses of the branches of the Nile kept changing fundamentally over the course of time. The reduction to two large branches, as it still exists today, only came into existence around 1000 AD. It had been preceded by a long process during which new branches were formed, and existing ones shifted their course and silted up. Due to the annual flood, settlements could only be founded on ground above the level of inundation. This dynamic alluvial landscape kept creating new conditions with direct consequences for settled areas. It is this relationship between the changing natural landscape and the developments of settlements which are the center of the study of this region. The intensive survey has a focus both on landscape archaeology and settlement history.
The very important ancient city of Buto (Tell el-Farain) lies at the heart of this survey. This site is of particular religious significance and has a very long settlement history, from the 5th millennium BC to the late antique period. A remarkable gap in the settlement is evident for the period from the end of the Old Kingdom (c. 2300 BC) to the end of the New Kingdom (ca. 1070 BC).
The investigated area is 22 x 25 km large and lies north, east and south of Buto. Within this region remains of settlements from the following periods were documented: The earliest evidence dates to the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070-664 BC), while the majority of settlements clearly fall into the Roman and Late Roman periods (1st to 7th c AD). The early Islamic period (8th-10th c) and the Middle Ages (11th -15th c) are also documented.


Robert Schiestl
Abteilung Kairo
Hohenzollerndamm 150-151
Haus 2
14199 Berlin
+49 (0)30 187711-257

Managing Department