- The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
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Fieldwork at Naukratis, 2012
The first British Museum fieldwork season at Naukratis was conducted in October 2012.
New fieldwork complements the project’s restudy of the early excavations, allowing for the clarification of results from previous excavations and the contextualisation of artefacts found there. It is also advancing our knowledge of the site, particularly our understanding of the full extent of the city, its geomorphology, harbour, structures and development over time.
The wealth of data collected requires careful processing before results can be interpreted and published, but preliminary results are extremely encouraging for future investigations of the site. Magnetometry data is currently being processed with the assistance of Kris Strutt of Southampton University, but some conclusions can already be drawn based on the plentiful surface pottery that dates from the Late Period to at least the seventh century AD.
Agricultural activity in many parts of the site has revealed pottery useful for dating certain areas and charting the site’s development. In the north-east of the site, Classical Greek and Hellenistic pottery probably reflects activities related to Greek sanctuaries. To the south-east, some Late Period Egyptian, but mainly Ptolemaic material could be observed within the Egyptian temple temenos area. The east of the site adjacent to Kom Hadid revealed pottery of the Late Period, but mainly of mid-late Ptolemaic date (late third to early first century BC, including Thasian transport amphorae) and evidence of industrial activity in the form of kiln wasters, fired brick and burnt earth. To the west of the site, material of both Ptolemaic (third - first century BC) and Late Roman (fifth - seventh century AD) periods were found.
Most of the pottery collected was locally produced, but numerous Rhodian, Knidian and Koan amphora sherds of Ptolemaic date and Cypriot/Cilician amphora fragments of Roman date were also observed, alongside early Roman terra sigillata from Syria. It is likely that the surface pottery reflects changing patterns of occupation, with the site contracting around the harbour in the Late Roman period.
The team was directed in the field by Ross Thomas, assisted by SCA inspector Tarik Sayed Ahmed Abdellah (Beheira SCA, Damanhour). Other team members included Alexandra Villing, Marianne Bergeron and local archaeologists Hani Farouk Abd El-Azeez Shalash and Doaa Ferieg Ali (Beheira SCA, Damanhour).
With their assistance, and that of the guards at Kom Geif and the farmers in the villages around Naukratis, we were able to achieve far more than we thought possible in this short season. We are most grateful for their assistance and look forward to further expanding our work at the site and our collaboration with local archaeologists.