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, 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.

SCA inspectors being trained by Ross Thomas
  • 1

    SCA inspectors were trained in the theory, methods, use, maintenance and data processing of the survey equipment that we used.

  • 2

    The objective of this first season was primarily to test the effectiveness of survey methods, concentrating on the survey of different areas of the ancient city, and to assess the potential for a longer season planned for next year. The areas targeted were, based on our archival research, thought likely to provide worthwhile interim results.

  • 3

    Geophysical prospection was carried out in order to identify structures and geological features preserved under the fields, both within and outside areas previously excavated, in order to identify and to investigate the full extent of the city, the Canopic branch of the Nile, canals (Alexandria and Sais canals) and harbour installations.

  • 4

    GPS survey was used to create a topographic map of the whole site, including extant archaeological features and the location of recent sondages excavated for the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) by Mohammed Ali Hakim. This work will produce an accurate map of the site of Naukratis for the first time. Overall, 49,000 topographic measurements were taken.

  • 5

    Collection of surface survey pottery helps date the features and areas surveyed. Individual finds were located as single GPS points, while elsewhere collections were made of material from specific magnetometry grids, which will allow for a comparison of pottery dates with any architectural features picked up by the magnetometer. About 300 sherds were recorded and photographed, then stored by the SCA for future study by the team.



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.

For more detailed information, see R.I Thomas and A. Villing, 'Naukratis Revisited 2012: Integrating New Fieldwork and Old Research', BMSAES 20 (2013) 81-125.