With kith and kin…

Having just read an intriguing article by Stuart Thyson Smith (Smith 2013), I would like to share some thoughts about the inhabitants of Egyptian sites in Nubia during the New Kingdom.

Talking about the range of people typically present in fortresses, Smith rightly states (2013, 269): “Fortress inhabitants usually included both women and children, who are typically neglected in favor of the adult men who performed the more obvious military, political and economic roles associated with these specialized communities.” Data from cemeteries and texts illustrate the presence of women and children in the communities of fortresses and fortified towns. Archaeological evidence from the settlements themselves provides further clues towards understanding the complex composition of the population. Smith presents his careful assessment of the demography, gender and ethnicity at Askut and stresses several aspects of identity issues in archaeology.

Interaction with local peoples is probably attested by the presence of Nubian ceramics at the major Egyptian sites – especially by Nubian cooking ware which could be connected with Nubian women. However, pottery and the coexistence of Egyptian and Nubian types and wares are not straightforward to explain but could reflect various aspects, e.g. a temporary or local fashion or indeed the cultural identity of their users. It becomes even more challenging to find traces of children in the archaeological record. Smith (2013, 274-275) has stressed useful ethnographic parallels and mentions gaming pieces as possible children’s toys and several productive activities like pottery making where children were probably involved.

Very much in line with Smith’s work, AcrossBorders is currently testing the potential of the analysis of material culture to inform for the question of a ‘Nubian’ or ‘Egyptian’ lifestyle within a New Kingdom fortified town like Sai. The identity of the occupants is central to this investigation and must include the complete population which was much more complex and dynamic than just adult men sent from Egypt.

Besides the archaeological finds like pottery and small finds from settlements, a group of inscribed door lintels and door jambs from Egyptian houses provides valuable information. Female persons are mentioned by names and titles on these monuments, indicating their real presence at the specific sites (Budka 2001, 74-75). One door jamb discovered during the 32nd season of the joint mission of the German Archaeological Institute Cairo and the Swiss Institute Cairo at Elephantine is particularly interesting: It belongs to a Ramesside official with the name of Hori (Budka and von Pilgrim 2008). His wife Nofret-irj is mentioned on another door jamb from Elephantine and a seated double statue of the couple is now kept in the Louvre, Paris (A 68).

Statue of Hori & Nofret-irj, Louvre A68.

Statue of Hori & Nofret-irj, Louvre A68.

In this particular case we know, that Hori was coming from Thebes and lived in Elephantine for a certain time span. Common sense tells us that it is unlikely that officials like Hori went to their short-term contracts outside of their hometown without their families: They would have brought already existing wives and children with them. This is also supported by numerous rock inscriptions and stelae in the area of the First Cataract and in Nubia. At Sai Island, a Ramesside door lintel shows a seated couple as house owners; names and titles of wives of officials during the 18th Dynasty are still lacking from this kind of monument but might be unearthed in the future.

In conclusion, besides the very likely fact that Egyptian officials sent to Nubia in the New Kingdom found new partners (including indigenous Nubians) there and started a family in towns like Sai, we should not forget the possibility that men on duty were also accompanied by their already existing family. Individual choices whether an Egyptian wife and children came along on a short-term mission are likely and might become more visible with further work on the complete set of data from settlement sites.

References

Budka 2001 = J. Budka, Der König an der Haustür, Die Rolle des ägyptischen Herrschers an dekorierten Türgewänden von Beamten im Neuen Reich, Vienna 2001.

Budka and von Pilgrim 2008 = J. Budka and B. von Pilgrim 2008. V. Bauteile des Wohnsitzes einer thebanischen Beamtenfamilie in Elephantine, in: G. Dreyer et al., Stadt und Tempel von Elephantine. 33./34./35. Grabungsbericht, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 64, 2008, 88–97.

Smith 2013 = St. T. Smith, The Garrison and Inhabitants: A View from Askut, in: F. Jesse and C. Vogel (eds.), The Power of Walls – Fortifications in Ancient Northeastern Africa, Köln 2013, 269–291

Research on the New Kingdom settlement on Sai Island prior to AcrossBorders

Back in the summer of 2012, a joint paper by Florence Doyen and me was submitted to Egypt & Levant (Vienna), focusing on recent excavations on Sai Island within the area of the New Kingdom town.FotoÄ-L22-23

We are very happy that this paper has now been published, being part of a major double-volume of the peer-reviewed journal, covering reports from Tell el-Daba and other Nile delta sites as well as various chronological studies and research concentrating on the archaeology of the Levant.

Our article gives a hopefully useful overview of the history of research on Sai up to 2012, focusing on the recent work by the Sai Island Archaeological Mission (SIAM) of Charles-de-Gaulle – Lille 3 University (UMR 8164 HALMA-IPEL), France.[i] It aims to illustrate the rich potential of the site and its importance for the history of Upper Nubia. The preliminary assessments of the ceramics and architecture from SAV1 North, undertaken in 2011-2012, allow a better understanding of the evolution of the town. As one of the major results of the 2012 SIAM season, the fortified wall in SAV1 North can be dated to the reign of Thutmose III. Until now, there is no enclosure wall attested prior to this king who is well known as being responsible for the heyday of Pharaonic Sai.

SIAM did undertake important steps forward to a closer understanding of Sai Island during the 18th Dynasty – and today, AcrossBorders continues this path with new excavations and detailed assessments, focusing on the material culture and the intriguing mix of life styles at the site.

Full reference of the article:

Julia Budka & Florence Doyen, Living in New Kingdom towns in Upper Nubia – New evidence from recent excavations on Sai Island, Ägypten & Levante 22/23, 2012/2013, 167–208.



[i] Other than stated in the editor’s preface (p. 14-15), the study has nothing to do with my ERC Starting Grant nor the FWF START project – it rather summarizes the status quo from which the new projects were launched.

Looking back on the 3D-Laserscanning Campaign on Sai Island

Even though we have already been back in Vienna for some time, I would like to give some information on the 3D-laserscanning campaign, which was carried out on SAI Island from February 3-10, 2014. Robert Kalasek from the Technical University of Vienna was the main person in charge of the scanning process, providing his know-how and years of practical experience in the field of 3D-laser scanning. My part was to provide technical and scientific assistance, letting the knowledge acquired from last year’s architectural survey flow into the work process.

The main goal of the work was to obtain a complete geometric documentation of the remaining walls and floors of the southern part of the New Kingdom town on Sai Island. 3D-laserscanning seemed to offer the most comprehensive result which could be achieved in a relatively short time.

For the scanning an Image Laser Scanner Riegl VZ-1000 was used, a Nikon D800 camera with a 14 mm lens was mounted on the scanner in order to record the texture. During the scanning process a grid of three dimensional points is automatically measured in the surveyed area by the instrument. So-called 3D point clouds result from this process, including xyz-coordinates and an intensity value depending on the surveyed material.

IMG_1064

Image Laser Scanner Riegl VZ-1000 in front of the ruins

The complete scanning of the remains of the Pharaonic town required 155 different scan positions, whereby the maximum distance of the measured points ranged between 200 and 400 m, according to the angle of incidence and the reflectivity of the material. The result of each scan is a point cloud in a local coordinate system. In a next step, the scans can be joined (registered) with the help of a multitude of reflector points, which were distributed throughout the ruins. Generally, at least five overlapping points are needed in order to put two scans together. These reflector points were also measured with a total station so that the registered scans can be placed into a geo-referenced net. With the help of the intensity information one can encode the three dimensional point clouds with different colors, which is often sufficient to differentiate the various objects.

ansicht_mitte

Scan of part of the storage rooms of the Pharaonic town with different colors for the intensity of the textures

In addition to the standing remains of the Pharaonic town, the newly excavated trenches (SAV1 East and SAV1 West) as well as SAV1 North were also scanned and geo-referenced. In order to collect data for the topographic understanding of the surroundings, four long-range scans (range: 1.2 km) from elevated points were also undertaken. This could maybe help in understanding the general topography of the town and also to clarify questions such as the course of the city wall on the eastern side of the town.

scans_auswahl_aus_allen_projekte_2pt_03_25prozent

Overview of the entire area of the Pharaonic town compiled from selected scans

Looking back on our days on Sai Island, I am happy to say that our campaign proved to be very successful and everything worked out as planned. Luckily, we had very few nimiti-days and the strong winds did not affect the stability of the scans as much as we had feared. The work-flow was very smooth and even though the work load was intense, especially for Robert, who worked on the data acquired during the day every evening until long into the night, we left Sudan with a lot of positive energy.

Next to the final registration of the scans, the post-processing in Vienna now entails the preparation of the data, e.g. reducing the enormous amount of data and refining the registration. The final output, a geometrically accurate three-dimensional model, can be used in the future to produce scaled plans and sections and a terrain model. It can also serve as a basis for further analyses and the creation of a reconstructed visualization of the Pharaonic town.

Pavements and floors at SAV1 East

View of part of the brick pavement in the governor's residence.

View of part of the brick pavement in the governor’s residence.

Different types of floor coatings, layers and pavements are well known from the southern part of the Pharaonic town of Sai examined by Michel Azim in the 1970ties. For example, the central room of the so-called governor’s residence has a splendid and very nicely preserved brick pavement. Some of the magazines show schist floors of which large pieces are still in place, together with a thick layer of gypsum. Similar schist floors have been recently excavated at Amara West, also within the context of storage rooms in the Rameside town.

Magazine with schist floor still in place.

Magazine with schist floor still in place.

At Sai, SAV1 East with its large building complex, Building A, resembles in some aspects the southern part of the town and especially the area of the governor’s residence. During excavation in 2014 a large amount of schist fragments were found (according to our geologist, Erich Draganits, the correct term for this type of stone is amphibolite). Very often these fragments are still coated with gypsum/plaster – direct evidence that they have been used to cover parts of a building, most likely the floor. The schist fragments came to light from both, directly below the modern surface above remains of mud floors and, in larger numbers, from fillings of large pits cutting into the New Kingdom structures. It is therefore likely that a former schist pavement has been destroyed in antiquity and the plates were broken and dislocated.

Overview of Southern half of Square 3 - note the schist fragments in the southern baulk, within the filling of pit 46.

Overview of southern half of Square 3 – note the schist fragments in the southern baulk, within the filling of pit 46.

All in all, 330 fragments were recovered from the western edge of Square 3 and Square 4 at SAV1 East. They would cover an area of approximately 3 square meters (not calculating spaces between the individual plates), indicating that either just a small area of the entrance rooms of Building A was equipped with this special paving or that much has been lost and we only found a very small percentage.

The first interpretation seems more likely as actually 3 square meters fit perfectly to the area where the highest concentration of schist fragments was discovered: between feature 40, a small interior wall running East-West, and feature 36, the main North-South wall in Squares 3 and 4, running parallel to the Eastern side of Building A as exposed in 2013.

    Southwestern corner of Square 3: between features 40, 36 and 46 the highest concentration of schist plates was found (Digital surface model: M. Fera 2014).

Southwestern corner of Square 3: between features 40, 36 and 46 the highest concentration of schist plates was found (Digital surface model: M. Fera 2014).

Some mud pavement remains have also survived – maybe they originally were the lower bedding for the schist plates; towards the south, pit 46 cuts off the New Kingdom remains.

Even if Building A has been badly damaged and its present state of preservation is largely restricted to the foundations, the elaborate schist floor somewhere in the western part of the structure underlines its high quality of building technique and important status comparable to the governor’s residence.

Painter’s pots from SAV1 West

Ancient Egyptian houses have been quite colourful as we know from well preserved sites like Amarna (cf. e.g. Kemp 2012 with nice colour plates and illustrations) and Amara West – in addition to the common mud plaster coating the mud-brick walls, traces of whitewash and painted wall plaster is documented. Also remains of pigments have frequently been found in ancient settlement contexts, most often on some kind of painting palette in various materials.

A small group of 11 pottery vessels from SAV1 West falls into this category and gives first indications that also the houses in the New Kingdom town of Sai might have been partly painted and decorated: these vessels show all traces of pigments on their interior, mostly yellow, blue and some red. These are the most common colours within domestic contexts (as well as for decorating stone blocks of temple architecture).

Interior of one of the painter's pots from SAV1 West.

Interior of one of the painter’s pots from SAV1 West.

The painter’s pots from SAV1 West have all been found in Square 1, towards the east of the enclosure wall, presumably thus connected with structures from the interior of the town. Some grinding stones and hammer stones with traces of pigments have also been noted, as well as plaster remains and what seems to be gypsum.

The vessels are mostly small flat based simple dishes and so-called flower pots – the latter are well known as painter’s pots from tomb context in New Kingdom Egypt (see, e.g. Brack/Brack 1977, 80) and temple sites (for example from the pyramid complex of king Ahmose at South Abydos; personal observation, still unpublished material from Stephen Harvey’s excavation).

One of the "flower pots" from SAV1 West with yellow pigment inside.

One of the “flower pots” from SAV1 West with yellow pigment inside.

Insha’allah we will be able to investigate the pigments, plaster and gypsum left on ceramic sherds and stone tools next year in more detail – possibly with exporting some samples with the permission of the National Corporation for Antiquities & Museums in Sudan for analyses here in Vienna. As yet, the painter’s pots from SAV1 West give small hints that the furnishings in people’s houses of Sai were maybe following similar standards like in Egypt, where light and colour had quite important functions (cf. Kemp 2012, 188-190).

References:

Brack/Brack 1977 = A. Brack and A. Brack, Das Grab des Tjanuni. Theben Nr. 74, AV 19, Mainz am Rhein 1977.

Kemp 2012 = B. J. Kemp, The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Amarna and its people, Cairo 2012.

The New Kingdom town wall at SAV1 West

During the 2014 season we successfully located the 18th Dynasty enclosure wall of the Pharaonic town of Sai in both of our new trenches at SAV1 West. We can hereby confirm the reconstruction of our French colleagues which was based on a surface survey, the general outline of the town and the location of the Western city gate.

The western edge of the Pharaonic town of Sai: looking across the Western city gate towards the new squares.

The western edge of the Pharaonic town of Sai: looking across the Western city gate towards the new squares in the North. To the right, the Northwestern tower of the Ottoman fortress, built above Pharaonic remains, is visible.

We were also able to identify some later additions and Post-Pharaonic construction work in our new trenches. During excavations, it was not very clear whether the later wall in Square 1W was located above a bastion and if the “front wall” we found could be of New Kingdom date after all.

SAI_6467Both questions have been answered in the meantime: There is no tower attached to the enclosure wall in the area of Square 1, and the “front wall” post-dates clearly the 18th Dynasty city wall. The situation in trench 2 seems to be very similar – the outline of the 18th Dynasty wall is now understandable, despite of the deep Post-New Kingdom pits within the brickwork, and it corresponds nicely to the presumed line drawn from the Western city gate towards the North.

Among the most important results of this season is the discovery of floor levels and occupation deposits on the inner side of the enclosure wall, both at Square 1 and trench 2 – all was covered by sand and mixed debris, but now there are really remains waiting for us which seem to be undisturbed! There are several floor levels visible, having been cut by the later pits – suggesting subsequent phases of Pharaonic presence at the site. Thus, SAV1 West will potentially add a lot of information about the inner structure, evolution and layout of the town – and will keep us busy in the next years.

The enclosure wall in Square 1 - almost completly destroyed in the northern part, damaged in the southern area but note the promising deposits towards the East.

The enclosure wall in Square 1 – almost completly destroyed in the northern part, damaged in the southern area but note the promising deposits towards the East.

End of week 4 of fieldwork at Sai Island, New Kingdom Town

During this week, we made good progress at both sites currently under investigation of the Pharaonic town of Sai, at SAV1 West and SAV1 East.

SAI_7663a

Work in progress at SAV1 West, 30/01/2014.

The brick work at SAV1 West was cleaned of the loose debris – we now have the substantial remains of the New Kingdom fortification exposed. The subsidiary, secondary adjacent wall was also found as proceeding further towards the North – as was the so-called “front wall”. Of the latter, we just cleaned today debris towards the west – the dismantled mud bricks are presumably lying on the natural slope of the western edge of the town; giving us much hope that we will be able to clarify its date and phases of use in the upcoming week!

Overview of SAV1 West; view towards Northeast. Debris at top of western slope in foreground.

Overview of SAV1 West; view towards Northeast. Debris at top of western slope in foreground.

I am especially excited about work at SAV1 East – we were aiming to clarify the western extension of our Building A, a possible large administrative building of Thutmoside date.

Cleaning of western part of Square 3, SAV1 East,

Cleaning of western part of Square 3, SAV1 East.

In the last days, Jördis worked with her team in the very difficult deposit of Square 3: within backfilling of late pits and disturbances, they were able to trace the foundations of a very large mud brick wall! Its alignment matches our East wall of Building A’s courtyard – and it is in line with the main North-South street of the town, running from the Southern gate, the Governor’s residence and Temple A towards our area SAV1 East.

Foundations of substantial mud brick wall at SAV1 East.

Foundations of substantial mud brick wall at SAV1 East.

Despite the pitting, we do have traces of the floor levels preserved and some smaller East-West walls, possibly of entrance rooms similar to the ones in the Governor’s residence SAF2. The challenge will be to reconstruct the complete outline of our building from these largely destroyed and dismanteled remains!

Overview of western part of Square 3, 30/01/2014: the main North-South wall, remains of pavements and a smaller East-West wall

Overview of western part of Square 3, 30/01/2014: the main North-South wall, remains of pavements and a smaller East-West wall.

As yet, both the New Kingdom ceramics from SAV1 West and SAV1 East associated with our mud brick structures do not predate the reign of Thutmose III – stressing that we are currently working in areas which belong to the main building phase of the Upper Nubian temple town at Sai which flourished during the time of Thutmose III and Amenhotep II.

An Update: The Enclosure Wall at SAV1 West

It is a well-established fact that the Pharaonic town of Sai with its fortified town, temple and administrative buildings falls into the category of so-called Egyptian “temple towns”, built during the New Kingdom in Nubia. The substantial mud brick enclosure wall of Sai with a width of more than 4.20 m has been investigated by the late Michel Azim (Azim 1975) in the South and Florence Doyen in the North (cf. Doyen 2009). As was confirmed in both sectors, the wall is equipped with bastions in regular distances. Our current work at SAV1 West aims to deepen the understanding of the layout, outline and construction of the enclosure wall as well as its building phases and periods of destruction.

At the moment – and this is all work in progress! – we were able to expose the outline of the western enclosure wall in the trenches 1 and 2. Its location fits perfectly to what Azim reconstructed as the western border of the Pharaonic town. However, there are still a lot of open questions – especially because of later disturbances and pits, but also due to several building phases within the brick work. In trench 2 we might have encountered a late sub-circular structure of possible Ottoman date, set into the 18th Dynasty enclosure wall. We will try to clarify this next week.

Western half of Square 1 (left) and Square 1W (right) at SAV1 West - overview towards South (Photo: Martin Fera).

Western half of Square 1 (left) and Square 1W (right) at SAV1 West – overview towards South (Photo: Martin Fera).

In the southwestern corner of Square 1, the upper part of the enclosure wall as we exposed it so far is still covered with debris; a large pit filled with mostly Christian pottery was cutting into this area. Similar holes have been dug into the brick work of the enclosure wall at SAV1 North (see Doyen 2009). As was already observed by Azim in the 1970s, the Sai New Kingdom fortification suffered from several destructions, but also restoration phases during its use-life (Azim 1975, 122). A good example of a restoration is the tower construction N2 at SAV1 North which is maybe of Ramesside date (Doyen 2009).

View of the enclosure wall at SAV1West in the front; the other brick walls in the back (looking West).

View of the enclosure wall at SAV1West in the front; other brick walls in the back (looking West).

A later addition to the western outline of the 18th Dynasty wall is now also traceable with our extension towards the west, Square 1W. Within this trench we also located a possible “front wall”, of which we as yet only reached the upper part. It seems as if a secondary construction was set between the New Kingdom brick work – spanning the area from the presumed front wall and the enclosure wall. A layer holding much organic material, charcoal and pottery of a domestic character may indicate that we have found here a small occupation spot, maybe a modest hut or shelter. Its date remains to be established but the pottery points to a Late Christian origin. However, it is intriguing that we also have some Ramesside sherds coming from Square 1W and the western half of Square 1 – comparing nicely to the findings around the tower at SAV1 North. At present, we cannot rule out that our squares are set above one of the bastions of the enclosure wall, maybe following complex building phases – all of this remains to be investigated during the upcoming three weeks of fieldwork at SAV1 West.

References:

Azim 1975 = M. Azim, Quatre campagnes de fouilles sur la Forteresse de Saï, 1970-1973. 1ère partie: l’installation pharaonique, CRIPEL  3, 1975, 1–125.

Doyen 2009 = F. Doyen, The New Kingdom Town on Sai Island (Northern Sudan), Sudan & Nubia 13, 2009, 17–20.

Ready, set, go: The field season 2014

DSC_6538The second field season of AcrossBorders is approaching – tomorrow the first team members will already depart to Khartoum, travelling to Sai Island on December 31!

Our 2014 season is planned as six weeks of excavation and additional two weeks of studying finds and ceramics in the digging house. An international team of twenty scientists will come to Sai Island to investigate aspects of the New Kingdom town, working on various tasks and different areas. We will be supported by an inspector of NCAM – and we’re very happy that we have again the pleasure to work with Huda Magzoub! We will furthermore profit from the experience of our Rais Imad Mohammed Farah who will, like in the last years, supervise our Sudanese workmen.

Compared to the initial season in 2013, we will go much further, in terms of excavation areas, methods and technology: A new excavation site with the name SAV1 West will be opened towards the west of the fortified town. One of the major aims is to test the structure and setting of the enclosure wall there. We hope to be able to provide a dating for the town wall; as yet it is based on the stratigraphical sequence and the corresponding ceramics found at SAV1North only. The question when exactly the Pharaonic site of Sai was surrounded by a mud brick fortification wall is of major importance to understand both the evolution of the site and its character as “temple town.”

Overview of the as yet unexplored western part of the New Kingdom town, north of the Ottoman fortress.

Overview of the as yet unexplored western part of the New Kingdom town, north of the Ottoman fortress.

Of course excavation at SAV1 East will continue – “building A” will be our focus and here especially its western part. Will we be able to confirm our preliminary interpretation of this building as administrative structure comparable to the so-called governor’s residence in the South?

2014 will also serve as testing phase for new documentation techniques – we will in particular use “structure from motion” and 3D applications, including a 3D laser scan of SAV1, thanks to cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology. Robert Kalasek from the Department of Spatial Planning of the Centre for Regional Science will conduct this laser scan, working closely with our architect Ingrid Adenstedt.

In addition, a geoarchaeological survey of the New Kingdom area will be undertaken by geologist Erich Draganits. For the first time, zooarchaeological remains excavated from the town area will be analysed in detail – Konstantina Saliari will focus especially on animals bones from SAV1North. Giulia d’Ercole will continue her studies on the petrography of the New Kingdom ceramics and will select new samples for both thin sections and iNAA. In particular we want to test more of the local, but also of the possibly imported Nile clays of the 18th Dynasty. Documentation of the small finds and tools as well as the pottery will be carried out simultaneously with the excavation. The architectural remains of SAV1 North will be investigated – Florence Doyen is coming for a last on site-check prior to her publication of this site within the New Kingdom town.

Last but not least, this year the “Sai Island Cultural Promotion” funded by the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP) will start its work. First steps towards the planning of a site museum will be undertaken and several French experts will join us for this task.

A busy season is waiting for us – I have no doubts that it will be productive and highly interesting, thanks to all of the support by our Sudanese friends and colleagues and of course due to the joint efforts of all team members!

The so-called temple towns of Nubia in the New Kingdom

Temple towns, also known as fortified towns, are a special phenomenon according to studies dealing with settlement patterns and urbanism in ancient Nubia during the New Kingdom. In most cases the published works in question are general overviews, introductions or entries in encyclopediae concerning the archaeology of ancient Egypt. Following these studies, Egyptian stone temples as well as enclosure walls were major features of New Kingdom settlements in Nubia, like Sai Island. Because of these two major elements such sites are typically called temple towns or fortified towns (e.g. Heidorn 1999; Welsby 2001; Bard 2007; for actual fortresses and military bases in New Kingdom Egypt see Morris 2005).

Presumed layout of the New Kingdom town of Sai after Azim 1975.

Presumed layout of the New Kingdom town of Sai after Azim 1975.

Kemp was one of the very first scholars, who dealt with these special settlement structures and presented the then almost generally accepted model of how a fortified town in Nubia has to look like (Kemp 1972a). The design of the towns is assumed to have been fairly uniform and they were enclosed with a mud brick wall as a rule. The internal structure was basically dominated by three types of building: a stone temple of characteristic Egyptian design as well as domestic and administrative mud brick buildings, including the civil government residence (Kemp 1972a: 653). As references Kemp cited only the settlements at Amara West and Sesebi, reflecting the restricted state of knowledge and publication back in the 1970ties.

At present, we know much more about settlements and towns founded or being reoccupied in the New Kingdom in Nubia – all of which received the designation of a temple town. Most probably the labelling is solely based on the existence of a temple. None of the authors seem to respect the other features postulated by Kemp. Furthermore, from the published works, it is impossible to say how many of these sites have been labelled as a temple town, as the opinions range from only three temple towns (Welsby 2001, Bard 2007) to 28 (Zibelius-Chen 2013)! Another contentious issue is the motivation for its development: was this due to political and religious factors (as proposed, e.g.  by Morkot 1993, 2001; Spence 2004; Bard 2007 and Zibelius-Chen 2013) or to purely economical ones (Trigger 1965; Kemp 1972a, 1972b; Heidorn 1999)?

As one can see there is much potential for a new consideration of the topic of the so-called temple towns starting with a fresh evaluation of Kemps model from 1972 considering the current state of research to the general question how a city or town has to look like for the Egyptians in Egypt and in turn in Nubia (the so-called town problem, e.g. Bietak 1979). Special attention has also to be given to the question whether some or even all of the refurbished and reoccupied Middle Kingdom-fortresses have been taken into account speaking about New Kingdom temple towns, like obviously Zibelius-Chen is doing (Zibelius-Chen 2013).

View of part of the New Kingdom Town SAV1 at Sai.

View of part of the New Kingdom Town SAV1 at Sai.

Especially Sai Island is one of the most interesting settlements among the potential temple towns or fortified towns as it was the first newly established town founded most probably by Ahmose. With all of its strategic advantages, Sai served as a bridgehead during the further expansion into Nubia (Davies 2005). As recent fieldwork has clearly illustrated, we are far away from understanding the complete layout and development of the New Kingdom town of Sai. How did the very early town founded by the Egyptians look like? Was there a predecessor for the Egyptian Amun temple built by Thutmose III? All of these questions are currently investigated by AcrossBorders.

Thus Sai fits perfectly into my envisaged PhD-Thesis at Humboldt-University Berlin briefly summarized here and I am very happy and grateful to Julia Budka, not only for her supervision of my PhD, but also for giving me the great opportunity to work as a PhD-researcher in her fantastic project. I am very pleased to have joined the AcrossBorders team!

References

Bard, Kathryn A. 2007. An introduction to the archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publ.

Bietak, Manfred 1979. Urban archaeology and the ‘town problem’ in ancient Egypt, in: Kent R. Weeks (eds.), Egyptology and the social sciences. 5 studies. Cairo: American Univ. in Cairo Press. 97–144.

Davies, Vivian W. 2005. Egypt and Nubia. Conflict with the Kingdom of Kush, in: Catharine H. Roehrig (ed.), Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh. New York, 49-56

Heidorn, Lisa A. 1999. Nubian towns and temples, in: Kathryn A. Bard & Steven Blake Shubert (eds.), Encyclopedia of the archaeology of ancient Egypt. London, New York: Routledge.   579–583.

Kemp, Barry J. 1972a. Fortified towns in Nubia, in: Peter J. Ucko & Ruth Tringham, et al. (eds.), Man, settlement and urbanism. Proceedings of a meeting of the Research Seminar in Archaeology and Related Subjects held at the Institute of Archaeology, London University. Gloucester. 651–656.

Kemp, Barry J. 1978. Imperialism and Empire in the New Kingdom Egypt (c. 1575-1087 B.C.), in: Peter Garnsey & C. R. Whittaker (eds.), Imperialism in the ancient world. The Cambridge University research seminar in ancient history. Cambridge classical studies. Cambridge [Eng.], New York: Cambridge University Press. 7–57.

Morkot, Robert G. 1993. Economic and cultural exchange between Kush and Egypt. London. Unpublished PhD thesis.

Morkot, Robert G. 2001. Egypt and Nubia, in: Susan E. Alcock (eds.), Empires. Perspectives from archaeology and history. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. 227–251

Morris, Ellen F. 2005. The architecture of imperialism: military bases and the evolution of foreign policy in Egypt’s New Kingdom. Probleme der Ägyptologie 22. Leiden: Brill.

Trigger, Bruce 1965. History and settlement in lower Nubia. Yale University publications in anthropology 69. New Haven: Dept. of Anthropology.

Welsby, Derek A. 2001. Nubia, in: Donald B. Redford (eds.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt 2. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. 551–557.

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