Project team member Rose Ferraby undertaking magnetometry survey
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    Project team member Rose Ferraby undertaking magnetometry survey

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    Ceramicist Marie Millet viewing artefacts found at the town

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    View over Ramesside houses inside the walled town

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    The expedition house on the island of Ernetta

Following eight years of British Museum excavation at Kom Firin, Egypt (a settlement near Alexandria in the Egyptian Nile Delta founded around 1300 BC), a visit to Amara West in 2006 showed that it had similarities: a walled town found in the early Ramesside Period, but with much better archaeological preservation.

A lot was known about the site through the Egypt Exploration Society excavations, but large areas remained unexcavated and modern archaeological methods offered the potential to find out a lot more about what life was like in the ancient town.

The British Museum funded a short season in January 2008 to assess the potential for a larger project, but also to learn about logistical issues: where could a team live, where would equipment come from, how much does excavation labour cost?

The archaeological element of the season included a topographical survey of the site. This kind of survey is the starting point for any excavation as it provides the base map for the whole site and any future work. It was also an opportunity to walk across every bit of the site, learning about characteristics of different areas.

At the same time, Sophie Hay and Leonie Pett from the British School at Rome and Archaeological Prospection Services (University of Southampton) conducted a magnetometry survey. This revealed the plan of many buildings in the town, and the discovery of the western suburb of large villas.

After the season, a series of research objectives was established, and project funding sought. The British Museum has continued to fund the project, but the scope of the research has required external funding.

Specific aspects have been funded by the British Academy and the Fondation Michela Schiff Giorgini, and a large project entitled Health and diet in occupied Nubia through political and climate change will run from 2010-2014, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. As of 2014, the project is also supported by the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project.