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Egypt & the Pyramids => Egypt: Latest Discoveries => Topic started by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 09:51:41 pm

Title: RARE MUD-BRICK Settlement Uncovered At Edfu
Post by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 09:51:41 pm

                                           Rare Mud-Brick Settlement Uncovered At Edfu

July 2, 2008—
National Geographic

A remarkably intact mud-brick settlement has been partially excavated near the ancient temple at Edfu, archaeologists announced recently.

With layers dating from 2,400 to 280 B.C., the find offers unprecedented insights into the daily religious, commercial, and administrative lives of normal people, a topic previously known mostly from written accounts.

In part, this was because Egypt's famous stone monuments and gold artifacts attracted the bulk of scholarly attention, experts say.

"[Archaeologists] are more and more interested in how settlements were organized and how normal people lived," said Nadine Moeller, who heads the Edfu excavation.

"These towns were all made of mud brick, so that's obviously not as glamorous than stone architecture."

Title: Re: RARE MUD-BRICK Settlement Uncovered in Egypt
Post by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 09:59:31 pm

Title: Re: RARE MUD-BRICK Settlement Uncovered in Egypt
Post by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 10:02:14 pm

The ancient Egyptian town at Tell Edfu was found remarkably intact,
but even its settlement layers show traces of quarrying from farmers
searching for materials to make fertilizers at the turn of the 20th century.

The damage, however, missed much of the large town center, a trade
and government hub containing a number of rectangular mud-brick

Experts say some of the buildings served as storage cellars and were
built with a thick ash layer that helped to deter rodents and insects

Title: Re: RARE MUD-BRICK Settlement Uncovered in Egypt
Post by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 10:06:13 pm

At the Tell Edfu settlement, archaeologists discovered
seal impressions that were discarded on the floor of a
16-columned hall, though their significance remains yet
to be determined.

The experts speculate, however, that the hall may have
been part of a governor's palace built as early as the
12th dynasty, which lasted from 1985 to 1773 B.C.

For generations, the palace would serve as the administra-
tive and commercial center of the settlement, providing
accounting services and a secure location to open sealed
items like papyrus letters, wooden boxes, and baskets.

Title: Re: RARE MUD-BRICK Settlement Uncovered in Egypt
Post by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 10:11:15 pm

This 21-foot-wide (6.5-meter-wide) grain silo—the largest ever found
in an Egyptian town center—was part of an open courtyard of at least
eight storage bins.

Grain was used to pay taxes to governors of provincial towns such as
Edfu, part of a plan by Thebes-based pharaohs to gain influence with
local rulers during ancient Egypt's strife-filled17th dynasty, which
lasted from approximately 1570 to 1540 B.C.

Title: Re: RARE MUD-BRICK Settlement Uncovered in Egypt
Post by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 11:31:15 pm

                                              HOW THE FARAOHS WERE FED

Tuesday, July 01, 2008
by Alan Boyle


N. Moeller / Tell Edfu Project

This view of the excavation at Tell Edfu shows superimposed
settlement layers.

Some of the grain silos from Egypt's 17th Dynasty
were covered by a thick layer of ash.

At a later date, several storage
compartments were built on top of the covered silos.

Egypt's best-known excavations usually focus on the glittering mummies and grand monuments of the pharaohs, but for something completely different, travel up the Nile to Tell Edfu: The archaeologists digging there have uncovered ruins that shed light on the administrative and agricultural foundations of ancient Egypt's riches.
The Tell Edfu site is significant because it preserves about 3,000 years' worth of history in a single mound - and because the ancient settlement served as a key link in the chain connecting Egypt's agricultural society with the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

"The problem has been that my colleagues deal with temples and monumental architecture, and settlements haven't been something that has attracted that level of interest," the dig's director, University of Chicago archaeologist Nadine Moeller, told me. "But they're actually really important for understanding the ancient Egyptian civilization."

Many of ancient Egypt's urban sites have gone by the wayside, obliterated either by farming or by centuries of urban renewal. So little evidence has survived that some scholars question whether Egypt ever had a well-developed urban culture, according to today's report from the University of Chicago about the Tell Edfu dig.


Moeller and her colleagues excavated what amounted to the downtown area in a provincial capital, south of ancient Thebes (modern-day Luxor). Thebes is hundreds of miles upstream on the Nile from the Great Pyramids - but for long stretches of Egypt's history, the city served as a pharaonic capital.

Among the most intriguing structures excavated so far are seven grain bins dating back to the 17th Dynasty (1630-1520 B.C.). Because grain served as a form of currency, this wasn't merely a granary - it was also the ancient equivalent of a bank, essentially managing tax collections for the provincial governor.

"Grain as currency provided the sinews of power for the pharaohs," Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, explained in today's news release.

The administration of that power has been described in ancient Egyptian texts, but there's nothing like seeing the actual places where that power was exercised. The silos measure 18 to 21 feet wide, making them the largest grain bins ever discovered within an ancient Egyptian town center.

Going deeper

Yet another layer of construction predated the silos. Moeller and her colleagues determined that a mud-brick structure with 16 wooden columns was used in the 13th Dynasty (1773-1650 B.C.), based on an analysis of shards of pottery and scarab seals found at the site.   The hall of columns served as a place where scribes did their accounting, opened and sealed containers, and received letters.
Moeller speculated that the hall may have been part of the provincial governor's palace. "It was far more extensive than we expected," she said. "Actually, I still haven't reached the full limit of the whole structure."

For now, the dig has sparked more questions than answers: How much time did the grain spend in the silos? How was it distributed among provincial, priestly and pharaonic officials? What heights did Egypt's urban society reach more than 3,000 years ago? When Moeller returns to the dig in October, she plans to seek the answers to such questions and more.

Tell Edfu may not look as monumental as the Great Pyramids - but the dead city, and other sites like it, are just as important for learning how everyday Egyptians lived. If anything, such sites are more endangered than the pyramids themselves.

"We don't have many of these sites left," Moeller said.

Archaeology News

Title: Re: RARE MUD-BRICK Settlement Uncovered At Edfu
Post by: Bianca on July 02, 2008, 11:48:07 pm

                                  Egyptian Official Building Uncovered in the South

June 18, 2008

Look for Edfu to the south of Luxor on the map – in southern or “Upper” Egypt. It was considered Upper Egypt even though it was to the south because the Nile flows north, so Lower Egypt is the region where we find Cairo and the Delta today.

The Earth Times reports the following:

CAIRO - A US archaeological team uncovered an ancient Egyptian administrative building and silos
dating back to the 17th dynasty (ca. 1665-1569 BC) along with an older columned hall in the southern Egyptian town of Edfu, Egypt’s antiquities department announced Tuesday. With sixteen wooden columns, the layout of the mud-brick hall shows that it might have been part of a governor’s palace,
the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, said.

The hall, which predates the silos, had been used by scribes for accounting, opening and receiving letters, Hawass explained.

Pottery and seals that date back to the 13th dynasty (c. 1786-1665 BC) were discovered in the hall.

“Scarab seals found inside the hall are decorated with spiral patterns and hieroglyphic symbols including the ankh sign, also known as the key of life,” said head of the American mission, Nadine Moeller.

The discovery reflects the Egyptian political situation at the time when the small kingdom of Thebes controlled Upper Egypt, Moeller said.


This is a photo we took when we were in Egypt at the Tomb of Ipuy (TT217) in Deir El-Medineh, the Valley of the Workers. It shows the ankh symbol, which represented “life” to the ancient Egyptians. The symbol is mentioned above as being found on the scarab seals in Edfu.