Rizwan Safir, archaeologist and Vera Michel, Egyptologist, University of Heidelberg
The waiting has ended and the inevitable has occurred: two ovens surfaced right at the back of our large building earlier this week. They emerged somewhat unintentionally – two familiar ceramic circles – as we began cleaning the external walls to allow Rizwan’s architectural plan to be completed.
We’re now into week four and following the removal of vast quantities of sand and rubble the opportunity to excavate some of the smaller rooms has come about, as well as revealing ancient occupation surfaces. Another hearth has emerged to the north of the building in a small suite of two rooms added to the large central courtyard – perhaps in response to the needs of a growing community? Oddly for an Egyptian villa, there is a large staircase located inside the main door, providing access to the roof (or upper storey) above these two rooms.
A space we dubbed the ‘silo’ room is currently being excavated and three, or possibly four, distinct round structures have emerged.
The size of these silos suggests use for storing grain, perhaps for more than one household – a number of smaller houses are visible west of our villa. Such storage containers have not been noted elsewhere at Amara West, where rectangular storage bins are common.
Between the silo room and the ovens is a space we started excavating on Wednesday – somewhere we might expect to see grain-grinding emplacements.
The emergence of the floor within the large central courtyard was particularly satisfying considering the depth and quantity of sand removed within this space, although conditions have proven particularly challenging of late.
For example, having reached the floors of the smaller rooms to the north of the building, a day of strong and relentless wind on Monday served to refill these rooms almost back to their original state!
Nonetheless, we soldier on, rewarded by a gradually more coherent plan of the building, populated by hearths, silos and, of course, ovens.
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