- Christian Levett (Mougins Museum of Classical Art)
- The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
- Institute of Classical Studies, London
- The British Academy, Reckitt Fund
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About the Naukratis research project
As the main archaeological repository in the UK, the British Museum received a large selection of the finds from Naukratis, particularly from the first two excavation seasons by Petrie and Gardner. It today holds the largest single collection of Naukratis objects, nearly half of over 17,000 known surviving finds from the early excavations.
The dispersal of the finds and their highly limited publication and study are the two main factors that today severely hamper our understanding of Naukratis. The vast majority of the objects have never been properly studied, and the Egyptian and Ptolemaic material in particular requires more attention.
The Naukratis project aims to realise the potential of this nineteenth century archaeological assemblage through a thorough and interdisciplinary re-investigation of the site. For the first time, the entirety of finds from Naukratis will be made accessible to scholars as well as anyone with an interest in the ancient world and its cultures.
In addition, our recent work on Naukratis has also included a restudy of the American fieldwork in the 1970s and 80s, as well as new fieldwork at the site itself. This is crucial to help answer those questions that cannot be answered on the basis of earlier excavations alone - such as the site's topography, relation to the river and development of over time.
The results of the project are being published in an Online research catalogue, reuniting more than 17,000 objects (distributed in over 60 museums worldwide) and painting a vivid picture of the site, its inhabitants, its art and its development over the more than thousand years that it was a crossroads of ancient cultures.
- To achieve a detailed understanding of the site, its topography, and its development;
- To assess the presence and roles played by various ethnic (and social) groups, to analyse their interaction;
- To understand the position of Naukratis in the context of the Egyptian Nile Delta and the Eastern Mediterranean;
- To disseminate the results of the research to scholarly and wider public audiences and to provide a lasting tool for future research.
Key research questions
- Why and by whom was Greek Naukratis established? Was this a virgin foundation or a long-established Egyptian settlement?
- What was the extent of the Egyptian community and administrative presence at Naukratis?
- How did Greeks and Egyptians live and interact here? What role did material culture play in the negotiation of immigrant and Egyptian identities?
- How did Naukratis develop over the centuries? How did the nature and organisation of the settlement and its economic activity evolve?
- What was the scale and organisation of trade and production at the site, and how did this change over time? What role did Phoenicians, Cypriots and Persians play?
- How did religion fit into this ‘international’ context? From the translocal diaspora of Mediterranean traders to Naukratite citizens – what was the clientele of the Naukratite sanctuaries?
- How does Naukratis fit into the broader picture of interaction between Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Cypriots and Phoenicians? How does it compare to other cultural crossroads sites in Egypt and elsewhere?