Circular pits within Building A

As reported some weeks ago, we have several circular pits just west of the eastern wall of Building A. There are two of them in Square 1, the northern of which still featured some collapsed mud bricks at one side. Today we extended work on the third one in Square 2, more or less in line with the two others in Square 1. We still have not reached its bottom, but interestingly, removing the northern baulk of Square 2, we found a lot of mud brick debris at its eastern side.

IMG_1598 smallAs we have experienced with the external walls of Building A themselves, the sandy filling is really a kind of negative impression of former brick work which was completely dismantled. Are our circular features therefore former silos, originally lined with bricks? Or something else, maybe ovens? We are still uncertain about them, at least they seem to be contemporaneous to Building A; excavation in the upcoming week will hopefully answer some of our questions.

Hidden – and almost faded – mudbricks at SAV1E

Given the sloping appearance of square 2, it was only today that we went deeper in the gravel deposit just north of the small bin where we found the in situ 18th Dynasty ceramics (feature 14).  At first appearance, this massive deposit seemed natural and just as a topographical feature. Here is a view of SAV1E with square 2 in the foreground, prior to excavation:

IMG_8988To confirm the hypothesis, we now decided to remove more of the gravel, working very slowly and horizontally. And this proved to be successful: Despite the difficulties recognizing any structures in this massive pebble layer, we managed to trace remains of a new mudbrick structure – a small section of a wall running more or less North-South (to the left in the picture below) and some scarce remains further to the East (to the right in the picture).

Feature 18 detailAlthough just a few centimetres are preserved, this almost lost new feature 18 confirms again early Pharaonic occupation in SAV1E: ceramics associated with it are predominantly (71 %) datable to the early 18th Dynasty; especially relevant is one fragment of a beer jar, still sticking to the remains of what was once a mudbrick.

Prospects at SAV1E

Continuing excavation in both Squares, SAV1E has changed quite a bit in appearance.

P1060386The eastern wall of Building A is very clearly visible, but the southern wall is heavily disturbed. Between the mostly collapsed bricks there was not only 18th Dynasty pottery, but also quite a lot of sherds originating from Medieval times. It is clear that we have already reached the final layer of mud bricks from Building A – although we are able to reconstruct its outline, the architecture is mostly lost due to later destruction work.

But work will of course continue in the next weeks: In particular two mud brick structures (feature 13 in Square 1 and feature 15 in Square 2) are promising, as we still have not yet their complete outlines – both are extending beyond the limits of the squares. Especially feature 15 in the Northwestern corner of Square 2 with a lot of collapsed bricks in its western part is interesting – we will have to remove the baulk between our two squares in order to understand it better.

feature 15Its filling material comprises mixed material – predominating is again the 18th Dynasty, but there is also a large percentage of Post-New Kingdom ceramics. We still don’t know whether structure 15 belongs to Building A or is a later installation.

New Features in Square 2

Mapping our wall and other features in Square 1, we christened the partly exposed major building at SAV1E “Building A”. Today, we discovered a new rectangular structure lined by mud bricks, just in the Northwest corner of Square 2 and thus still within “Building A”.

DSC_1025 scmallThe photo shows the first outline of feature 15 early this morning. In the geophysical survey of 2011, a sub rectangular anomaly was visible at exactly this location. Similar to the circular pits in Square 1, the new feature is filled with soft sandy material – maybe it is some kind of installation for storage. Associated ceramics are again mostly early-mid 18th Dynasty in date.


First field season approaching

In a few days, the first group of team members will travel to Sudan and we will start our initial field season on Sai Island for AcrossBorders. We will work 6 weeks in the field, excavating a new area at the eastern edge of the Pharaonic town. We hope to be able to establish the dating and function of the structures we are going to unearth and add thus important information about the history of Sai Island. Another 3 weeks on Sai will be dedicated to the documentation of finds, ceramics and architectural elementsIMG_1240