Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt

Alexandra Villing, Marianne Bergeron, Giorgos Bourogiannis, Alan Johnston, François Leclère, Aurélia Masson and Ross Thomas

With Daniel von Recklinghausen, Jeffrey Spencer, Valerie Smallwood, Virginia Webb and Susan Woodford

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Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Shelby White - Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
  • Christian Levett and the Mougins Museum of Classical Art
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Foundation deposits


Aurélia Masson

The construction of sacred monuments, notably divine or funerary temples, was preceded in ancient Egypt by a complex foundation ceremony known to us through some rare textual and more abundant iconographic testimonies. This complex ritual also left behind a wealth of material evidence consisting of groups of objects and other elements buried below significant architectural points of the planned structure. Altogether votive, commemorative and performative in nature, foundation deposits are a tradition which goes back in Egypt as far as the Early Dynastic period.

The first excavation season in Naukratis under Petrie unveiled six deposits in the foundations of the Ptolemy II gateway of the Great Temenos. These deposits were the first to be scientifically excavated in Egypt and recognized for what they were. Their discovery, content and significance are discussed in the present study. The issue related to the orientation of the monument, which was usually determined during the foundation ceremony, is also briefly addressed.