Amara West project blog

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Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2013: excavating house E13.5

View over house E13.5, with front room to leftSarah Doherty, Cardiff University and Shadia Abdu Rabo, National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums

House E13.5 is located just north of the official residence of the Deputy of Kush (E13.2), excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society in 1947-50. It is the eastern-most visible in a run of four small dwellings facing onto a narrow alley. The walls had been planned by Mary Shepperson in 2010, showing five rooms, but excavation of these rooms only began this Saturday, under our supervision.

View over house E13.5, with front room to left

View over house E13.5, with front room to left

At the front of the house Shadia excavated windblown sand mixed with mudbrick rubble, which contained many fragments of mud bearing the impressions of the wood, grass and matting used to construct a roof over the space. The excavation can seem futile, as our 6-10 workmen remove windblown sand only to see the north wind bring in yet more of it!

AW_2013_shadia_544

Shadia recording brick rubble around the front door of house E13.5

The front door to the house had partly collapsed, with remnants of brickwork and stone doorjambs scattered nearby. The last floor in use within the room, probably just over 3,000 years old, was very well preserved: a smooth clay surface, with a circular hearth in the centre, and a pottery stand set into the ground to one side.

Detail of inscribed jamb, re-used as a threshold stone, bearing the name Horhotep

Detail of inscribed jamb, re-used as a threshold stone,
bearing the name Horhotep

Meanwhile, Sarah started the business of clearing the middle and rear of the house, including a room fitted with a low brick bench (mastaba). Remnants of three stone doors were revealed in this part of the house, and all three employed stonework recycled from an earlier building, perhaps also a house.

These include an inscribed doorjamb giving the titles of a man named Horhotep, and an inscribed door lintel; both were re-used as threshold stones. The builders of house E13.5 were clearly not particularly interested in the old inscriptions – in one doorway, two old inscribed doorjambs had been erected upside down. Perhaps these had then been plastered and painted, but any such decoration has been eroded away.

There is certainly a lot happening in this intriguing part of inner Amara West. After clearing the staircase room, we’ll soon be busy documenting the house (plans, drawings, photographs) before we remove the floors to reveal an earlier phase of occupation.

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