31 July, 2003
Today excavation ended in Unit H-15 (Room 8, Building A). We located the lowest floor level within the structure around 5.50 metres above sea level (over 6 metres below the surviving wall tops). The southern end (South baulk) of the lowest chamber contained a second large chunk of slag and bone, which appears to be the refuse from the extraction of calcium in glass production. The presence of some Roman pottery in the disturbed lower levels of an adjacent chamber (Chamber 1, Building A), and the location of refuse pits with glass slag at the top of the structure, suggest that the skeletons in Tebilla's cemeteries were being exploited for calcium during the Roman period.
The space below the mudbrick ceiling (first floor) in Building A yielded a mostly undisturbed burial of a young female (about 10-12 years of age) with an in-situ bracelet and a necklace of cowrie shells and amulets (wadjet eyes). This burial lay alongside the southern wall, in the undisturbed mudbrick debris and pottery (locus 65) that had been missed by the intrusive (Roman) pit cutting to the base of chamber 8. Of note, much of the floor of Chamber A remained intact, concealing a low grey brick wall extending into the chamber from the eastern and southern sides of the room. At the base of this wall we found an earlier walling system lying at a different angle. The exterior walls (Buildings A and D) indicate that at least 3 metres of the building lay above ground (the ancient, exterior ground level will be traced next season). Hence, the mastaba (Building A) had a cellar with a two storey above ground portion with battered wall faces.
29 July, 2003
Laura Chinery completed the excavation of Unit G-14 today. Her trench encompassed a street between two buildings (A and D) and uncovered 17 intact burials (stacked in alternating layers from head to toe) and the remains from 10 other burials. The burials yielded traces of embalming, wrapping, bitumen, and painted decorated casings (blue and white). One body still contained its toe nails. Dr. P. Sheldrik and A. Graver will return in the next season to conduct further analysis on the bodies uncovered in late July. (L. Chinery and A. Burridge have already completed a thorough preliminary assessment of these latter burials, which will be included in a forthcoming report).
The exterior walls of both Buildings A and D have a steep batter, which reduced the street to less than 50 cm at a depth of 3 metres. The exterior walls contain two rows of holes, equally spaced, from wooden beams set into the walls. Some holes contained traces of wood, while one contained a well-preserved beam end. The street area had been filled with successive, dense layers of pottery in-between periods of burial and wind- and water-laid debris.
In the northern two thirds of Chamber 8, we have excavated below the bottom of Building A. Although later pitting (i.e., for burials) had cut through the original floor, the northern wall definitely ends and is underlain by a dense layer of pottery and reddened soil. The Eastern wall lies directly above a wider eastern wall that projects 25 cm into Chamber 8. The western wall awaits further delineation, but appears to bulge outwards, perhaps lying above an earlier wall or being founded deeper. The southern interior section displays a definite horizontal surface line subdividing the underlying broader eastern wall and termination point of the northern wall. The soil below this line contained much yellow and grey dense mudbrick debris, with some red-brown soil and much pottery (large to small sherds) lying at all angles.
An ovoid area (grave pit), containing far fewer bricks, lay in the northern part of this lower mudbrick debris. This pit contained the disarticulated remnants of burials (with bitumen coatings). Some decorated casing fragments lay near the top of the mudbrick debris, along the western side of this area. Tomorrow the southern interior section will be drawn and peeled back stratigraphically to reveal the remaining wall face in Chamber 8. The lowest part (cellar/first floor) of Chamber 8 would appear to have been roofed by a north-south barrel vault; confirmation of this awaits final delineation of the bricks in the southern part of the chamber.
In the fallow field, Trenches I-V (Area NE-1) show that the eastern enclosure wall probably continues beyond the fallow field, measuring up to at least 300 metres. Unfortunately, water seeping in from the adjacent rice fields have made it difficult to identify (beyond reasonable doubt) the enclosure wall in Trenches IV and V. The enclosure wall, however, definitely appears in Trenches I-III.
26 July, 2003
Further news on tracing the enclosure wall. Trench III in Unit NE-1 (fallow field beyond mound edge) has revealed the northern part of the eastern enclosure wall about 272 metres from the southwest corner of this wall. Trenches I and II lie at 260 and 266 metres from the SE corner and should yield further confirmation tomorrow. Trench IV will be started tomorrow to find out whether the enclosure wall turns before the 280 metre mark.
Unfortunately, this wall might continue into innundated rice fields and may leave tracing the NE corner turn to future seasons. Some options include coring, magnetometer survey work, and examining drainage channel banks (along the projected line of the wall). Trench III of NE-1 also yielded potsherds and some walls from structures cut by the enclosure wall's foundation trench.
The excavation of the interior southwest corner of the enclosure wall has reached a depth of 2.80 metres below the surviving wall top (within the 2002/3 SCA excavation area). The foundation trench begins at the modern surface and is about 1 metre wide. Of interest, the enclosure wall sits on a much wider platform base laid lower down within the foundation trench, filling the one metre wide trench alongside the narrower, upper wall. The wall narrows by 25 cm near the top where the enclosure wall measures 11.50 metres in width.
Sarah Parcak is supervising the excavation crew in removing a small section of the foundational platform within the corner (Unit SW-1) to locate the foundation deposit. SCA test pits within the wall reached the water table at just over 3 metres depth. We will use water pumps in an attempt to reach the foundation deposit in the event that the wall base extends below the water table.
The excavation of the street in Unit G-14 has revealed a distinct batter to the exterior faces of Buildings A and D. Laura Chinery has uncovered a dozen intact burials so far within this street, with the remains from about 10 other burials nearer to the modern surface. The street narrows to about 50 cm at about 3.50 metres depth from the modern surface and wall tops of Buildings A and D. It would seem more likely now that Buildings A and D do represent mastabas rather than non-funerary structures reused for burials. Further excavation within this area will reveal the full nature of Building A.
23 July, 2003
Excavation has begun in the southwestern corner of the enclosure wall, at the base of a 50 cm deep trench placed here by the 2002/3 SCA excavations. Of note, the SW enclosure wall had not been noticed immediately owing to half-a-dozen, regularly placed test-pits placed within the surviving 30 metre walling system (see picture to-follow). However, officials mentioned that these test pits revealed only solid mudbrick, and did not represent chambers (as in the surrounding, excavated mastabas). We will excavate below the 3.30 metre depth of the test pits to locate the base of the foundation wall.
We obtained permission from the landowner to excavate in his fallow field to trace whether the eastern side of the enclosure wall turns at the 235 metre mark, or extends further northwards (as indicated in the 1968 satellite image). We are clearing the surface debris in a 20 by 15 metre area that spans the 235-255 metre point along the north-south wall (30-50 metres beyond the mound edge).
Room 8 in Building A continues to yield interesting results. Today Alwyn Burridge reached a dense layer of chopped-up and burnt human bones. Many of the bones contain coatings of bitumen, which had extended over the breaks in the bones. Cut/chopping marks and other evidence indicate that the bones had been reduced to small pieces (less than 10 cm), possibly being used in a glass manufacturing process. Evidence of glass manufacture was found in pits cutting into the top of Building A; the lower chamber (6.50 metres below the wall tops) was open to this depth at some point (based upon stratigraphic and other evidence).
In the following week we will be completing excavation and recording work, but will continue to pursue locating the NE corner and finding one of the expected foundation deposits. If located, the NE corner would be the most promising since the fallow field lies about 4 metres below the nearby mound edge.
New information reveals that the Ramesside and many other limestone and granite blocks (found during the construction of the water plant) are more likely to represent Ramesside construction at Tebilla rather than a re-use of Ramesside blocks. Officials and construction workers clarified that the blocks all came from a level 6 metres below the base of the lower mound level (the surface associated with the Dynasty 26 mastabas). Hence, the temple blocks came from an area 8 metres below the western edge of the mound, well below the ancient surface associated with the 235 by 280-352+? metre enclosure wall.
The temple block of Sheshonq I (noted by Chaban in 1908) lay on the surface of the mound, but its exact find spot remains unknown. It would seem likely that the Dynasty 22 temple lay somewhere within the northwestern part of the mound, in an area that would have been sacred. In addition, the placement of the enclosure wall in the northwest part of the mound implies that this area remained the most important part of the town. Hopefully evidence will emerge to support the current notion that the enclosure wall dates to Nectanebo I or II's fortress and temple building program.
21 July, 2003
Exciting news! The southwest corner of the enclosure wall has been located at the northwestern edge of the SCA 2002/3 excavation area of the southern end of Tebilla. Although 115 metres of the southern enclosure wall (visible in a 1968 satellite image) has been cut in the construction zone associated with the modern water filtration plant, 30 metres survive in the western part of the mound. The southern wall measures 235 metres in length.
The surviving wall measures 11.50 metres in width, continues along the same line as the 90 metre stretch of the southern enclosure wall 115 metres to the east, and its foundation trench cuts through earlier mastaba walls that have a distinctly different orientation from the enclosure walls. The enclosure wall turns northwards and will be traced for the 35 metres remaining between its southwest exterior corner and the wall of the water plant. A domestic building with an oven --(postdating the mastabas)-- lies directly west of the enclosure wall's corner and foundation trench. Since the southern edge of the mound is scheduled for imminent removal as farmland (later this fall?), we are mounting a salvage operation to excavate down to the sand foundations in the inner SW-corner of the enclosure wall to locate the SW foundation deposit under the interior brickwork (postulated through parallel foundation deposits for fortification and temple enclosure
The north-south (eastern) enclosure wall measures 205 metres to the mound edge. We will examine the fallow field beyond the mound edge to see whether the wall turns at the 257 metre point (i.e., indicating a square enclosure), or continues for a substantial distance within the fallow field. Should the enclosure wall be square in plan, we would search for the NE foundation deposit, which would be more easily reached. Hopefully, Tebilla's 11.50 metre wide enclosure wall will not have foundation walls extending to a depth of 12 metres as at Tel Qedwa (Dynasty 26 fort in Northwest Sinai).
The street area in Unit G-14 (northeast mound) has yielded a few more burials. 11 burials lie in the eastern part of the street, with several layers of stacking. Laura Chinery and Alwyn Burridge have been working long hours to record and remove each burial completely; the remainder of the osteological team, Dr. P. Sheldrik and A. Graver, will return for future work on these and other burials for future seasons at Tell Tebilla.
Room 8 of Building A continues to be excavated. We are finding an increasing concentration of faunal remains, such as many bird bones (adult and infant) and bones from over a dozen mice. In addition, the brick fall debris contained a large chunk of slag mixed with burnt human bones (similar to chunks found at Mendes in the eastern part of the mound). We believe we are approaching the floor of the chamber since we will soon be 2 metres below the ceiling top (lining the sides of the room).
Maureen Rode is currently preparing digital images to be sent to the webmaster for posting on the website.
20 July, 2003
The southern wall top and edge has been cleaned up for photography and planning. During the delineation of the enclosure wall's inner and outer edges (within the top of the foundation trench), we discovered a large bronze figurine of Horus. The figurine measures about 25 cm high and represents a seated Horus figure with finger-to-mouth and an Atef crown headdress. It lay within the northern, interior foundation trench area (in Unit X-10), about 15 metres to the west of the interior corner.
Further scraping of the southern wall area and its environs reveals a possible gateway installation. The interior area contains a massive foundation wall perpendicular to the east-west enclosure wall and additional buttressing along the exterior wall. These features are sufficiently different from the rest of the enclosure wall and suggest that a gateway may have lain in this area. In addition, this area yielded much limestone debris along the interior wall area, including a limestone block lying along the interior wall edge.
Although the water plant foundation area has cut much of the southern enclosure wall, we will scrape down the surviving patch of mound to the west to trace the wall here. In a subsequent season, we will investigate selected areas in the fields to the north and west of the mound to trace the southwest and northeast corners in the deep foundation wall. The wall does not appear to have been accompanied by an external moat, but the western mound edge will be examined more closely to see whether any moat lay along the exterior wall. A nine metre area separates the exterior wall from the earlier structures, suggesting a broader disturbance than the 50 cm to one metre wide strip of foundation trench evident beside the inner wall face.
19 July, 2003
We have completed excavating Room 8 in Building A (Unit H-15) to the 6 metre ASL (above sea level) point --5.60 metres below the preserved wall tops. It would appear that we have approximately another metre to excavate to the floor level based upon the location of the lower brick "shelf" projecting out from each side of the chamber. A. Burridge (Unit H-15 site supervisor) has suggested a domed cellar, which appears to be the most likely explanation. The "ledge" ("dome") definitely projects outwards from each wall face of the chamber, being underlain by softer, burnt soil and larger potsherds.
The vertical walls, brick debris, and potsherds underlying the lower shelf/ledge in Room 8 had a later deposit of soft silt against them, forming a definite interface between the pit wall (cutting through the ledge/dome) and the brick debris filling the chamber. Half a dozen large chunks of baked brick debris lay just above the 6 m. ASL-level in chamber 8, lying within thicker, grey clay. This area also yielded numerous skeletons of mice.
The pottery from the multiple layers of debris in Room 8 date from Dynasty 26 through the Persian period (Late Period). The uppermost levels of Room 8 did produce some Late Period to early Greco-Roman period sherds, suggesting that the period of disturbance probably post-dates the postulated 343 B.C. destruction of Artaxerxes III. Radio-carbon dating and further study of the pottery sequence from the stratified street area (Unit G-14), and elsewhere, may assist in dating the different events evident within Room 8.
The street area being excavated by L. Chinery has produced eight bodies (infants to adults) and the disarticulated remains of other human burials. One infant was buried with a string of beads. In addition, the exterior wall of Building A contains the top of a squared opening. The exterior bricks had fallen from this opening, but it may represent a doorway(?), a window(?), or possibly a robber's entrance into the burials (L. Chinery suggested the latter idea). Further investigation should reveal the true nature of this opening into the southern wall in the street.
The wall top continues to be cleaned up for photography and reveals regular exterior buttresses, with matching zigzags along the interior wall face. The bronze items in the wall corner contain many items from figurines, such as divine beards of varying sizes, atef crown pieces, flails, etc.
12 July, 2003
The enclosure wall along the western part of the mound has been fully exposed now, revealing a surviving 90 metre long east-west section (to the exterior corner) and about 200 metres north-south. The exterior side displays regular buttresses extending about 50 cm beyond the main wall line, while the interior side contains some buttressing. The foundation trench line runs about 1 metre alongside either side of the wall top.
Dr. Pavlish has completed a more detailed topographic map of the western side of the mound, and has placed the enclosure wall within this new map. In addition, he has conducted a new magnetometer survey of the wall top and its surroundings along the mound top for comparison with his initial, less intensive magnetometer survey of this area. We hope to extend the magnetometer survey into the lower, fallow fields to the north of the mound to see whether the wall can be traced in this region.
The project began excavations (supervised by Sarah Parcak) within the interior corner beside the enclosure wall foundation and found the top of a probable foundation deposit. The foundation deposit consists of a partly circular pit placed within the main foundation trench, and lies against the wall's interior corner. Excavations within the upper part of the pit have revealed reddened soil, burnt animal bones, bronze figurines (e.g., a flail, a cow ear fitting, an arrowhead, an amulet, and other pieces), and numerous flecks of gilding (from wooden figurines?). It is hoped that the following days will reveal the cartouches of the king responsible for building this enclosure wall.
The SCA has provided a conservator (Mr. Maher) who has cleaned many of our bronze pieces today; his restoration revealed fine details on a bull figurine, an atef crown fragment, a cow ear fitting, and other pieces. Maureen Rode has made impressions of all the seals in modelling plastic (Fimo) and has taken digital images of these impressions (for addition to the website).
The street (excavated by Laura Chinery) to the north of Building A (Units H-14 and H-15) has yielded at least four bodies lying on top of one another, and traces of a blue and white decorated mummy case against the exterior wall of Building A. Project osteologists, Dr. Peter Sheldrik and Alison Graver, will be removing these bodies for further assessment in the field.
Alwyn Burridge continues to supervise the excavation of the layers of debris in the northeast room (no.8) in Building A. We have the impression that we are now in a basement. The walls have become wider than the upper walls and do not display the intense burning found in the floor above. However, this "basement" room still contains some burn collapse debris (e.g., some reddened wall faces and large baked brick pieces).
The western ledge, immediately below the second storey doorway, has yielded a disarticulated and intensely burnt body (blue and white bones): it consists of the remains of toe bones, a pelvis, ribs, and a skull stretched out along the ledge. Chamber 8 continues to represent somewhat of a mystery, but we hope that the discovery of the floor and future excavation of the entire structure will clarify the full nature of this building and its later use for burials.
Rexine Hummel and Lyla Pinch Brock departed for England on Friday, leaving Kei Yamamoto to direct the pottery team (Fran Cahill and Maureen Rode). Lyla will return in two weeks to resume her assistance in drawing the pottery. Shakira Christadoulou (registrar) and Patrick Carstens (photographer) continue to process all the materials from this season.
10 July, 2003
The surface scraping along the mid-western part of the mound top has yielded the lower walls and floors of domestic dwellings with ovens visible in several structures. This would seem to represent an intervening phase between the mastaba cemetery (Third Intermediate Period to Dynasty 26) and the intrusive enclosure wall (Nectanebo fortress). More investigations are needed in this area.
Room 8 in Building A (Unit H-15) has revealed multiple phases of use: (1) It was burnt down (perhaps in ca.343 BC by Artaxerxes III), (2) it was filled with debris after the conflagration and weathering, (3) a wall of yellow brick was placed within the upper fill, creating a new chamber for burials, (4) further burials were placed in the chamber, cutting down through part of the yellow wall, (5) this area was robbed out to a depth of about 2 metres, cutting out most of the fill beside the burials, and (6) the remnants of the disturbed burials were dispersed down debris slopes as the chamber re-filled with mudbrick debris.
We have cleared Room 8 (Building A) to its 2001 excavated depth of 5.60 metres and are now excavating deeper to find the initial floor level in this three (or more) storey structure. Dr. Pavlish will core below the 5.60 metre point to determine how much further the floor lies below the current depth of the excavation in this room. The debris has yielded a scarab, amulet fragments, large pottery jar fragments, slag, chunks from charred beams, and limestone debris.
7 July, 2003
The western mound top continues to be scraped down towards the north, reaching units K-6 and K-7. It would appear that many square and rectangular structures (mastabas) lie along the western side of the mound. However, a scrape down of the surface of Unit K-7 has yielded a row of bases from five circular ovens, indicating a domestic area to the northeast of the cemetery region. This will be explored briefly later next week.
The large "temple" wall has displayed regular buttresses along its exterior, but these buttresses measure no more than 50 cm from the main wall face. This wall lies in a foundation trench that cuts through the square and rectangular structures (mastabas) along the western side of the mound. It is possible that the wall may belong to one of the forts built (by Nectanebo) at the mouth of each delta river branch. (The wall cuts through Saite period structures). The inner corner will be excavated to find a potential foundation deposit.
The structure in the southeastern corner of the "temple" enclosure appears to have been built in two stages. An earlier yellow brick building lies slightly below an upper addition to the first structure. The second (upper) structure utilized foundation trenches to add a southern wall beside (and slightly over) part of the lower structure. It would appear that the earlier structure had fallen into disrepair and had been reused in part and modified in the southern area. The lower surface has yielded a distinct floor with a scatter of pottery and traces of some reed matting (from the roofing).
Another inscribed block was found next to the exterior wall of the water plant during municipal bulldozing and removal of 30 cm of soil beside the modern foundation trench for the water plant enclosure wall.
Excavation continues in the street between the houses in Units G-14 and H-14, yielding much pottery from multiple levels and the bodies of some infants and adults. Room 8 in Building A (Unit H-15) has a southern wall about 2.50 metres to the south of the northern exterior wall. The sloping debris layers are being peeled back stratigraphically from the cross section and have yielded a scarab seal, beads, amulets, slag, disarticulated human and animal bones, and many potsherds.
2 July 2003
The structure (Units X-8, X-9, W-8, and W-9) within the southeast corner of the temple enclosure lies within a narrow foundation trench that is cut from an ancient surface that lay at some point (now lost) above the current ground level. The temple wall, 1 metre to the south, also lies within a foundation trench, but it has also lost the surface from which its foundation trench was cut. The parallel alignment of the southeast building (X-8) and the temple enclosure wall argues for building X-8 postdating the construction of the temple wall (in contrast to the many earlier buildings, with a different alignment, that had been cut by the temple and building X-8).
The osteological team (Dr. P. Sheldrik and A. Graver) reports that one of the bodies (female) from the mastaba tombs excavated along the southern edge of the mound displayed degeneration in the cervical spine and evidence for having lifted heavy loads. This reveals that at least some of the burials in the mastabas to the south of the mound represented a working class. The examination of the burials from the painted case and sarcophagus will form a comparative sample of the health and condition of the elite portion of Tebilla's populace.
The excavation of the eastern half of one room in Building X-8 has revealed a sub-surface room (basement chamber) with a lower floor below the ancient, exterior ground level. This chamber has yielded a deposit of reed matting across the floor top, possibly reflecting a burial or building materials from the collapse of the ceiling (subsequent excavation will yield the answer to this question). The room has yielded beads, a bronze nail, a ceramic token, some animal bones, and a broken vessel along the northern side of the room. There is no evidence for a foundation trench within the inner chamber in contrast to the exterior wall face.
The street area in the northeast part of the mound (Unit G-14/H-14) lies between two large mudbrick buildings. It has yielded multiple, U-shaped deposits of soil and pottery along its length, with evidence for periodic rainfall and pooling of mud along the base of several deposits. The pottery dates from Dynasty 26 into the Persian period, including many storage jars, bowls, platters, and other fragments. The buildings along either side of the street have also yielded the holes left from roofing beams, with charred wood in some holes and one exceptionally well preserved, large end from a beam (unburnt) that will be a key piece for dendrochronological placement and radio-carbon dating (with permission from the SCA).
Work has continued in clearing out the back-fill debris within the northeast chamber (Unit H-14) of the structure (Building A) to the south of the street. This will continue to the 5.40 metre depth attained in 2001, with the southern half of the chamber being excavated stratigraphically as the northern half of the chamber is cleared of back-fill. Tracing the original street level(s) and foundation trenches for the northern and southern buildings, in addition to obtaining stratified pottery sequences, will be crucial in dating the construction of the structures, their destruction period (postulated as 343 B.C.), and fine-tuning the sequence of Late Period pottery.
The pottery team (R. Hummel, L. Pinch-Brock, K. Yamamoto, and F. Cahill) has finished drawing and describing all the diagnostics from the 2001 season and has begun on the 2003 season. Every diagnostic sherd from the excavation has been drawn and described; the pottery will be published fully on a CD with the range of types illustrated in plates in the forthcoming volume for Tebilla.
30 June 2003
Work continues on exposing the north-south extension of the temple enclosure wall and structures to the immediate west. It would appear that several earlier structures lie immediately to the west of the temple wall, oriented differently than the temple wall. These walls and structures had been cut by the temple wall, paralleling the situation for buildings beside the interior north-south wall within the temple enclosure.
A preliminary conclusion is that the earlier structures (at least some of which contain burials) represent mastaba tombs, while the adjacent temple walls are actually only the foundations for the temple enclosure, lying below the ancient temple ground level. The temple may have been preserved above its floor level in the southeast corner, where a structure lies beside the temple wall. Excavation in this area (by S. Parcak and M. Rode) should reveal the stratigraphic relationship between the temple wall and interior structures.
It is suspected that the Late Period temple walls at Tebilla were removed to gound level after the Persian invasion (temp Artaxerxes III) of 343 B.C.. The destruction of fortification walls was used commonly --in antiquity-- to reduce the ability of conquered peoples to rebel successfully and to hold out against future campaigns of conquest. Since the foundation walls of many Late Period enclosures and major structures extend as deep as 12 metres, it will still be possible to trace major structures within the eastern side of the temple enclosure.
The northeastern part of the mound has yielded various infant burials in the debris-filled street (Unit H-14) between two buildings. Several large virtually intact vessels were also found in this area.
28 June 2003
Further clearance within the temple enclosure revealed more structures to the north of the "house" in the southeast corner of the enclosure wall. The artefacts from the surface scraping included grinding stones, alabaster vessel fragments, bronze fittings, bronze nails, beads (bronze and faience), amulets (Bes; Sakhmet; Wadjet eyes), vessels (faience bowls; faience New Year's flask fragments), and pottery (Late Period to Greco-Roman period).
The northeastern part of the mound (Unit H-14) yielded the remains from two children, other human remains, pottery vessels, alabaster vessels, limestone grinding stone; faience bowls with lotus patterns), and beads.
26 June 2003
The osteological team (Dr. Peter Sheldrik and Alison Graver) arrived this week to examine the human remains from Tell Tebilla. They will be processing the materials from the 2000-2001 and 2003 seasons (with further assistance from Alwyn Burridge and others).
Excavation began in the area of housing in the northeast area of the mound (Unit H-14). Laura Chinery and Alwyn Burridge are excavating the street area to the north of a large structure (Building A from 2001) to locate the ancient ground level and foundation trench associated with the southern and northern structures. The 2001 excavation in the southern building had revealed massive burnt walls extending at least 5.40 metres, but the floor had remained unlocated below the 5.40 metre point. This season will include excavating further down below the 5.40 metre point inside the building.
The general surface area has already yielded some alabaster (calcite) vessel fragments, bronze pieces, and much pottery. A skull fragment was found in the sub-surface debris in the street, indicating the extensive placement of burials (Late Period to Greco-Roman period) within the abandoned, debris filled streets and chambers in this part of the ancient town. At this point it is conjectured that the town was destroyed by Artaxerxes III in 343 BC, near the end of the Late Period.
At the southern end of the temple wall excavation began near the mound edge, inside the temple enclosure area. It would appear that a large wall (2.50 metres wide) was placed alongside the enclosure wall, with a cross wall creating a chamber between it and the temple enclosure wall. To the immediate east lies a massive north-south wall that appears to have subdivided part of the temple enclosure into an eastern and western section. Unfortunately, much of this north-south wall extends beyond the surviving upper mound. Some (earlier?) buildings lie to the west of this wide wall, but have different angles to the massive temple walls and appear to have been cut by the north-south interior temple wall.
The southeast, exterior temple enclosure corner has now been defined, lying over 80 metres to the east of the mound edge. It appears that an open street extends northward beside the exterior of the north-south temple wall. The southeastern interior temple area contains a large structure (about 20 by 20 metres) with narrow walls (house?), which will be investigated at the beginning of next week. Several later furnaces and hearths intrude into this structure.
25 June 2003
Today we traced the beginning of a turn in the temple wall heading northwards, which showed that at least 75 metres of the southern enclosure wall has been preserved. The western part of the southern enclosure wall may survive as a foundation wall in the low ground composing the construction area for the modern water plant; this remains to be investigated. Further scraping near the mound edge revealed another north-south wall, but most of it had been cut at the western edge of the mound.
23 June 2003
The scraping down of the mound top has continued for 71 metres to the east of the mound edge in which the enclosure wall section appears. The southern side of the temple enclosure wall continues eastwards without evidence for the corner yet. In the next few days we should find the southeast corner of the temple enclosure following the evidence displayed in the 1968 satellite image. Reddened soil and burn debris appears alongside the eastern extent of the southern enclosure wall, while it continues to maintain a top width of 11.50 metres. The mound edge reveals, however, that the lower part of the enclosure wall is a little wider (up to 50 cm) since the surviving wall top edge has been eroded a little (reducing its true width).
The extension of excavation units and surface soil scraping to the north of the southern enclosure wall has revealed a multi-chambered structure about two metres to the north of the interior wall face. At this point surface scraping revealed some amulets, copper fragments, faience vessel sherds, and pottery. The multi-chambered structure had several later furnaces intruding into several rooms, while some Late Period to Greco-Roman period pottery was found in the surface topsoil.
G. Mumford and L. Pinch-Brock went to the SCA magazine at Mendes to draw the 11 blocks found in the environs of the temple at Tebilla. We drew the scenes found on 10 of the blocks (the 11th block was devoid of decoration), using transparent plastic sheeting to trace the decoration and hieroglyphs at the same scale; we will later coallate the drawings with the black and white photographs, slides, and digital images. The scenes included an offering table, a royal smiting scene, the upper part of a deity, parts of several cartouches, a sun-disk flanked by uraei, and the upper part of a head with an uraeus on the brow.
Dr. L. Pavlish arrived a few days ago with his magnetometer. The project will attempt to trace the extent of the southern and eastern enclosure walls into the fields, beyond the areas visible in the 1968 photograph. It is hoped that we can locate the western and northern walls of the temple below the fields to determine the original dimensions of the temple enclosure. L. Pavlish will also conduct coring across the site to investigate various geological and archaeological features.
18 June 2003
Scraping along the surface of the southern end of the mound has revealed an open area (street) of about 8-10 metres along the southern, exterior side of the temple enclosure wall. To the south of this open area (in Unit BB-6) the upper part of a structure appeared: the sub-surface debris has yielded a small bronze figurine of an Apis Bull (with a tenon for fitting into a base), a white faience, cylindrical kohl vessel (papyrus-column), several fragments from two faience bowls, and copper pieces (nail fragments and other items). Other finds include the feet from a faience figure, the head from an amulet of Montu, a fragment from a glazed, faience shawabti (uninscribed), and much iron slag.
The director (G. Mumford), P. Carstens, and S. Parcak went to the SCA magazine at Mendes to photograph items from the SCA 1988 findings from Tell Tebilla for a joint SCA-Toronto publication of the materials from this site. The discoveries included 11 small limestone blocks, which bore Ramesside cartouches, figures of a king, deities, and fragmentary inscriptions (found in the vicinitiy of the temple in the northwest corner of the mound). The other items came from limestone sarcophagai (interred within the temple precinct), and include white faience shawabti figurines, amulets (Horus falcon; Bes figure), a copper eye inlay (presumably from a wooden coffin), numerous beads from several necklaces, a small alabaster ointment jar, a limestone head (Hapy) from a canopic jar, and over a dozen intact pottery vessels (including a Phoenician storage jar).
16 June, 2003
Over the course of the past week, the southeast corner and the eastern and southern parts of the north-south and east-west lengths of the temple enclosure wall have been defined at Tell Tebilla. Several structures remain within the interior corner of the temple enclosure; these structures stand at least 3.50 metres above a surface between the enclosure wall and an interior building's wall. Most of the walls from the interior structures have a different alignment from the temple enclosure wall, and some eastern walls appear to have been cut by the enclosure wall. Excavation is required to assess the stratigraphic relationship between the enclosure wall and the interior buildings. The interior structures have yielded some evidence for burnt debris.
The scraping down of the mound top around the southern exterior side of the enclosure wall has revealed an open area along the wall, some structures, and evidence of burning in various areas. Patches of limestone debris and some block fragments appear beside and above the enclosure wall's top. Some artefacts from the surface debris include copper lumps, a small faience palmiform column, faience debris, and part of a Dynasty 26 New Year's flask.
Five new team-members arrived on Friday and have been enlisted to help the pottery team catch-up the backlog of pottery from the 2001 season. Excavation will begin in one week's time once the backlog of pottery has been completed or virtually reduced. The pottery team was provided with a new mobile shelving system (with 32 basket-trays) for improving the system for pottery processing.
The SCA in el-Mansoura has begun providing access to some of the 1991-92 finds from Tebilla for their publication in conjunction with the University of Toronto project findings. One item included a small seated and inscribed, limestone statuette (Late Period). Other items included six pottery vessels and a small basalt tortoise-style dish (found in a southern part of the mound between the current southern edge and a modern, small cemetery).
10 June, 2003
The continuation of the removal of debris along the western side of the mound of Tebilla revealed at least two parallel, barrel-vaulted structures inside the southeast corner of the temple enclosure wall. The barrel vaults remain intact and contain the remnants of burials. The mudbrick structure containing these parallel, rectilinear rooms probably originally represented the temple storerooms before being used for burials. The storeroom/burial structure lies 1.50 metres inside (north of) the 18.50 metre wide, southern enclosure wall. In the next few days we will delineate the mudbricks exposed in the section, dig deeper to find the original floor level below the modern ground surface in front of the exposed vaults, and excavate the chamber roof tops and their interiors.
The Cairo and el-Mansoura offices have provided permission today for a joint publication of the Toronto and SCA materials in a single volume. We will begin examining SCA finds next Sunday with scholars from the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
9 June, 2003
The removal of further debris from the west side of the eastern mound, and additional scraping, have revealed that the southern enclosure wall measures 18.50 metres in width and extends at least three to four metres in height. There are mud brick debris layers on the southern (exterior) and northern (interior) sides of the temple enclosure wall, with some limestone chips and a block fragment above and beside the preserved top of this enclosure wall. Excavation of the 5-10 cm layer of topsoil covering the southern extension of the enclosure wall has yielded a headdress fragment from a ceramic Bes figurine and a scarab.
The pottery team is continuing to catch up on the backlog of pottery from the 2001 season, ahd is awaiting the arrival of the remaining team members next week. It may not be possible to obtain access to the SCA findings from the last season at Tebilla (2002-2003), but the Cairo office of the SCA is currently processing our access to previous materials found by the SCA for a joint publication.
Ground-truthing in the Daqileyah Province has commenced with visits in the region north of El-Simbellawein. Though 5 sites have been lost beneath modern villages or under fields, one site, Tell-el Ahmar, survives. This site was thought to have been destroyed. It measures 150 by 175 metres, and is between 1.5 and 2 metres in height. It dates to the Roman Period, based on surface pottery. Another site to the south of Tebilla, Tell Tanah, is now under cultivation, but the site was relocated with satellite images. The pottery from Tell Tanah extends into the Islamic Period.
3 June 2003
The summer 2003 season at Tell Tebilla has begun this week. We contacted the Supreme Council of Antiquities' office in el-Mansoura, where we received information about a recent six-month excavation by the SCA in the southern part of the mound. The SCA discovered over a dozen square and rectangular Late Period mastaba structures (three metres high) with multiple chambers, skeletal remains, canopic equipment, and other finds. Some of the burials lay in limestone block-lined chambers. The Toronto project will be co-operating with the SCA and Egyptian scholars in a joint publication of this material and Toronto-SCA findings at Tebilla, with drawings, photographs, and a descriptive text in English and Arabic.
Of interest, we have recently identified the southern section of the Late Period temple's enclosure wall in the eastern side of the foundation area for the water plant. The wall is 11.50 metres wide (we have just begun clearing and delineating the debris from the eastern foundation area).
The limestone and granite blocks that had been placed along the southwestern side of the mound have recently been moved to the centre of the mound to allow the SCA's excavation of the southern end of Tebilla. One of the limestone blocks contains the serekh-name and double cartouches of Ramesses II, which, in addition to another fragmentary Ramesside cartouche and New Kingdom pottery found in the water plant grounds, suggest the possibility of a New Kingdom temple at Tebilla. Unfortunately, there is no definite in-situ evidence for a New Kingdom temple and the Ramesside blocks could have been re-used in the well-attested Third Intermediate Period to Late Period temple at Tebilla.
21 May 2003
The 2003 season at Tell Tebilla will concentrate upon several objectives:
3 May 2003
Please note that SEPE will be in Egypt from May 12 to August 12, 2003, excavating at Tell Tebilla. Some project members will be in Toronto to answer queries. Weekly reports on excavation results will be forwarded from Egypt for posting on this bulletin board.