Project director

Department of Greece and Rome 

Project curators

Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust
  • Christian Levett and the 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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Fieldwork at Naukratis, 2014

The third British Museum fieldwork season at Naukratis was conducted in April – May 2014. Following on from successful seasons in 2012 and 2013 (read the published report) that had pinpointed the location of the river Nile with its harbour and revealed numerous new structures, including what most likely is the Egyptian temple of Amun Ra, as well as buildings forming part of the Hellenion (a Greek sanctuary complex).

In the 2014 season, we continued our programme of investigations aimed at a better understanding of the layout of this ancient city, its harbour and religious structures. Work concentrated on the geophysical survey – with large parts of the site now mapped through magnetometry – and the geological auger survey, and we began excavations in 6th century BC layers in the northern part of the site, in the area around the Hellenion.

Read the full report 

The Naukratis team worked at the site for four weeks, consisting of field director Ross Thomas, Alexandra Villing and Aurelia Masson-Berghoff (British Museum); Astrid Lindenlauf (Bryn Mawr College); Kris Strutt and Ben Pennington (Southampton University), Mohamed Magdy El Deeb, Mohamed Roshdy Gomaa Soliman and Ashraf Salah El din Mohamed (Beheira MSA Inspectors based in Damanhour). The magnetometry results revealed a large number of previously unknown tower houses and courtyard buildings, extending the eastern limit of the settlement beyond what was previously known. It also revealed structures within the area of the Hellenion, the northern part of which must be preserved to 5 meters of stratigraphy. In the south-western part of the Hellenion the team excavated part of what is presumably the temenos wall, revealing over 4000 artefacts, mostly from undisturbed 6th century BC contexts. Many new insights are emerging that refine our understanding of the city’s topography and history and its development from the 7th century BC to beyond its decline in the 7th century AD.

 

Photograph of our MSA inspectors) For the third fieldwork season, the team was joined by MSA inspectors Mohamed Magdy El deeb, Mohamed Roshdy Gomaa Soliman and Ashraf Salah El din Mohamed.

The British Museum team of Ross Thomas, Alexandra Villing and Aurelia Masson-Berghoff were joined by Astrid Lindenlauf (Bryn Mawr College); Kris Strutt and Ben Pennington (Southampton University).

Our programme of magnetometry, begun in 2012, now covers 26 hectares of the site, improving our knowledge of the layout and extent of the settlement, which must have covered over 60 hectares during its peak.

Three trenches were excavated under the supervision of Ross Thomas, Aurelia Masson and Astrid Lindenlauf, assisted by the MSA inspectors.

Pottery and other objects were identified, quantified and processed in the field; important artefacts were brought back for cleaning, photography, drawing and registration, overseen by Alexandra Villing

An Electronic Resistance Tomography (ERT) section was undertaken using a Tigre ERT device by Kris Strutt, to help define the geological relationship between the river and the settlement and to identify walls and other structures within the settlement. MSA inspectors learned how to use the instruments.

The Tigre provided a nearly 900 meter long and over 15meters deep section running East-West across the southern part of the site (the blue area to the right) and the Canopic branch of the Nile (the red area to the left); further work is needed to interpret this data. The results complement the geological data from the auger survey and provide important depth information to help interpret magnetometry results.

This season has produced significant new data on the layout of ancient Naukratis, its environment and hinterland, as well as important stratigraphic and dating evidence for the earliest phase of the main Greek sanctuary and administrative complex, the Hellenion. Here, in the northern part of the site, over a meter of archaeology is still preserved in places in the area of the dried up lake. The mix of material culture and evidence for religious practices that was excavated here suggest a greater degree of cultural mixing between Greeks and Egyptians than previously thought.

The results highlight the enormous potential this important site holds for research in future seasons.