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Area A/V

by Irmgard Hein
  Area A/V is located at the north-eastern edge of the mound of Tell el–Dabca, approx. 500 m northeast of area A/I and A/II.

There is evidence of former archaeological investigations in this area. Small pits are widespread throughout the area, the average size of one being 1.5–2.0 ms x 0.7 ms, suggesting the work of a single digger. Such specific pits are likeliest to be the relics of E. Naville’s investigations from 1885, being labelled "Naville-pits" as a result. Naville (1887, 21) described the on-the-ground activities as follows: "I worked for more than a month with about a hundred labourers in the area of the enclosure and especially towards the western side, and went down as far as the water allowed."

In 1987 a geological survey of the geomorphologic conditions, using methods of investigating soil out of drill cores, was conducted by J. Dorner (Dorner 1989). This went to prove that area A/V was located at the southern fringe of a turtle back of sand (gezira). As has been recently demonstrable in the geomagnetic survey (see Forstner-Müller and others, 2004), (>>geomagnetic plan/survey).

A/V is part of a larger settlement area which had been separated from the main Tell by a channel of water. The features of the sherdage from the Dorner survey anticipate settlement remains from the Late SIP period, in particular ones tying in with Str. D/3 and D/2 (>>strata).

Due to the landlord’s intended agricultural use of the area, the EAS suggested an investigation of the plot which went on to be conducted by C. Hölzl, then followed up by I. Hein under the auspices of M. Bietak and J. Dorner. Mohammed Taher and Ibrahim Soliman attended as representatives from the Egyptian Antiquities Authorities. An area of 1800 m2 in 18 squares by 9.0 x 9.0 ms was excavated down to two to three levels, all of them containing material from the Late Hyksos Period. Only one square was tested on down to level 5, but work had to stop because of rising groundwater. The material has been published by I. Hein and P. Jánosi in the volume Tell el-Dabca XI.
Deep-level probes of square p/19 showed up layers tying in with strata E/1 (shortly after inception of the Hyksos Period) as far as Str. D/2 (final phase of the Hyksos Period) on upper levels (>>chronology strata). Later material was also found either in pits cutting into these layers - albeit without adjacent horizon - or at several spots just below the surface, such as at Locus 145, bearing witness to activities from later periods (str. post D/2, str. C, str. B). No buildings from these late phases were traceable.

This material is proof that settlement activities started relatively late in this eastern part of the Auaris/ Tell el–Dabca town district, as opposed to areas A/II, A/IV, F/I or cEzbet Rushdi where the earliest traces go back to the 12th Dynasty.
  The earliest levels from area A/V
In one square, A/V-p/19, the layers were explored as deeply as possible, down to a depth of 3.60 m/NN. Because of the high water table, it was not possible to delve further.
The lowest level contained settlement relics from the early Hyksos Period tying in with str. E/1- E/2 (>>chronology strata).
It was from this phase that we found a house spanning several building layers. Test drills NW of the square showed, going down another 30 cms, the presence of settlements starting to be built on the gezira. The initiation of settlement activity can be linked to population growth at the beginning of the Hyksos Period (15th Dynasty, approx. 1,620 B.C.). The apparently rapid increase in population would have led to a shortage of space in the old town, as can be interpreted from the situation in area A/II. The result was expansion into inhabited zones and the adjacent Gezira hill in the East.
  The Hyksos Period (str. E/1-D/2)
The settlement remains show houses loosely scattered around the site, including only a few tombs within the area inhabited (pic.1 - map of area A/V). The dwelling units show courtyards as well as farming utensils and equipment, such as vessel stands, kilns, silos etc. (pic.2).
pic. 1   pic. 2

Tombs in the area
All the tombs have been looted. We found different kinds of burials - single burials with offering deposits, being common during the late Hyksos Period (pic. 3, pic. 4, pic.5, pic.6 and pic.7). A large tomb construction with a tomb chamber was also discovered (pic. 8, pic. 9 and pic. 10).

This tomb, containing multiple burials, was built parallel to the street and to the houses around. The rooms added south and west of the area may possibly be another part of the tomb structure. The burials had been constantly plundered, leaving disjointed skeletal remains. The chamber was paved with mud bricks overlaid by a thin rubble layer which acted as the burial ground.

pic. 3   pic. 4   pic.5   pic. 6   pic. 7
pic. 8   pic. 9   pic.10
  Children were usually buried in large pottery containers, such as amphorae (pic. 11), within the housing confines, whilst a group of multiple child burials dotted around a chamber tomb was detected on square A/V-p/19 (pic. 12 und pic. 13).  
pic. 11   pic. 12   pic. 13
The pottery from area A/V offers a rich collection of household and daily life pottery, in particular from the end of the Hyksos Period. Some scarabs also date to this period (pic. 14 and pic. 15).
pic. 14  pic. 15
  A destruction level at the end of the occupation phase, widely assumed to coincide with the end of the Hyksos Period, failed to be detected. We can therefore assume that the structures remained intact into the 18th Dynasty. Objects datable from the early 18th Dynasty were found in pits and disturbed areas, such as a bulky storage jar (Zir) which presumably dates to the early 18th Dynasty (pic. 16).  
pic. 16
  Ramesside Period (str. B)
A complete change in the settlement structures was traceable from the end of the 18th Dynasty/early Ramesside Period onwards when small pits started being regularly laid out in rows, over the site, probably being the remnants of a garden or a vineyard on that very spot (pic. 17 - garden leve and pic. 18).
pic. 17   pic. 18
Bietak, M.
1991 Tell el-Dabca V, 19–26.
Dorner, J.
1989 Grabungsbericht Tell Tell el-Dabca, Ägypten, ÖJh, 4
1994 Bericht über die Geländesondagen, Ä&L 4, 11–15.
1999 Bericht über die Geländesondagen, Ä&L 9, 82.
Hein, I.
1992 Two Excavation Areas from Tell el-Dabca, in: Sesto Congresso Internazionale di Egittologia, Atti, Vol. 1, Turin, 1992, 249 – 253.
Hein, I. and Jánosi, P.
2004 Tell el-Dabca XI. Areal A/V, Siedlungsrelikte der Späten Hyksoszeit,. Verlag Österr. Akademie der Wissenschaften, UZK XXI, Wien 2004. Mit Beiträgen von: K. Großschmidt, K. Kopetzky, L. Maguire, C. Mlinar, G. Philip, U. Thanheiser, A. Tillmann.
Jánosi, P.
1992 Hausanlagen der späten Hyksoszeit und der 18. Dynastie in Tell el-Dabca und cEzbet Helmi. In: Haus und Palast im Alten Ägypten. Intenationales Symposium 8.-11. April 1992 in Kairo. ÖAW. Wien. 85-92.
Maguire, L. C.
1995 Tell el-Dabca, The Cypriot Connection, in: Egypt, the Aegean and the Levant, London, BMP, 54 – 65
Naville, E.
1887 The Shrine of Saft el Henneh and the Land of Goshen. EEF Mem. 5. London.