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The Palatial Precinct at the Nile Branch (Area H)

by Manfred Bietak
  • The Late Hyksos Period, Ph. D/2 (Str. e/2-f)
  • The Beginning of the New Kingdom, ph. D/1 (str. e/1)
  • The Palace District of the Tuthmoside Period, Ph. C3-2 (Str. d-c)
  • The Minoan Wall-Paintings
  • A hiatus, the fortress of Horemheb and Ramesside cemeteries

At the western edge of ancient Avaris was a site where from the late Hyksos Period till the reign of Amenophis II and, after an interlude, from the time of Amenophis III till the Ramesside period a stratigraphy of palatial and partly fortified precincts was uncovered in excavations from 1990 until 2007 (Fig. 1). There seems to have been some sort of local tradition of palatial structures, which bridged the late Hyksos Period, the 18th Dynasty and the Ramesside Period (Fig. 2). This site offered the best opportunity to understand the development of the town from Avaris, the capital of the Hyksos, to Pi-Ramesse, the Delta capital of the Ramessides. In the late Hyksos Period and the 18th Dynasty the site fulfilled the situation of a royal residence, which in Egypt is mostly situated to the north of the town and near the river. The usual northerly winds provided clean air without smoke and odours of a town.

Fig. 1   Fig. 2

The Late Hyksos Period, Ph. D/2 (Str. e/2-f)ˆ

An important precinct, probably a palatial compound, was built on low, newly accumulated sediments at the eastern edge of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. Considerable soil and sand deposits were dumped there in the late Hyksos Period to create a dry building ground. Before that, the prime amenities consisted of settlement refuse and remains of some flimsy domestic constructions of the middle to late Hyksos Period (ph. D/3-2 = str. g). Reed huts erected in systematic fashion under and within the artificial deposits probably served to accommodate labourers for what seems to be a palace project
           This precinct of the late Hyksos Period (ph. D/2) thus far excavated consists of the following elements (Fig. 1):
           1. Remains of a substantial fortification wall (A) along the banks of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. It was constructed of mud-brick, 6.20 m (12 cubits) wide, and had buttresses set at regular intervals of 35 cubits. The long and straight continuation of this wall several hundred metres to the north-east was revealed by a geophysical survey in 1999.
           2. Gardens (B) from the same period behind this wall. Preserved are tree pits and a series of flower-pots, sunk into the ground at regular intervals (Fig. 2). The system of the pits is in alignment with the enclosure wall. Other garden remains were found some 200 m to the south-east, outside the enclosure wall of the early 18th Dynasty palace in area H/III.
           3. A monumental building on a low-level platform in area H/III (C). It is a kind of casemate construction filled with debris, which was originally at least 31.5 x 27.1 m (c. 60 x 52 cubits), but there is no absolute certainty about its eastern edge (Fig. 3). The building has the same orientation as the fortification wall A and was later enlarged westwards, reaching a length of over 50 m. On top of this addition remains of a pavement and some walls of a building were found. To the north of this compound was found an enclosure wall of more than 3 m width. It is an inner enclosure wall, parallel to the fortified thick outer enclosure wall B. It ends at what seems to be a door tower. The narrow street between this building and the wall was littered with broken pottery from the end of the Hyksos Period (Locus 66). Probably from the same enclosure is a wall at right angles with a parapet and an entrance towards the west.
           4. The main building of the palace of the late Hyksos Period has not yet been found with absolute certainty, but a large water supply system, carefully made of limestone and encased with an insulating layer of loam, leads south from the Nile between the two above-mentioned buildings (Fig. 4A/4B).Probably the palace was to a large extent covered by the modern road to Husseinya and Tanis and destroyed by the construction of the El-Didamûn-canal (called Es-Sama‘ana-canal in the Survey of Egypt maps). For the palace of the first half of the Hyksos Period uncovered in area F/II see below.
           5. A mansion with substantial walls and pavements of mud-brick and a central column base was found during the 2002 season to the southwest (Fig. 5). Wall coating of loam with linear mural paintings with horizontal stripes in blue, red and white along the lower parts of the walls leave the impression that wall carpets have been plagiarised by painting. The upper parts of the walls were covered with yellow. Blue painted fragments of wall plaster seem to have fallen off the ceiling. Fragments, which seem to be parts of hieroglyphic inscriptions, were also found.
           Other evidence, as there is, of Hyksos royal buildings includes the left jamb of a monumental doorway of the hitherto unknown Hyksos Skr-hr = Sikkru-Haddu (“Memory of Hadad” according to Thomas Schneider) (Fig. 6) from a secondary position in an 18th Dynasty stratum. Other objects with Hyksos royal names such as a stela of the Oldest King´s Son Ianassy (son of Khayan) (Fig. 7) and a pseudo-naos of Apophis and his sister Tany were retrieved from a modern water channel, which cuts through the citadel. Settlement remains - separated from the palatial gardens by a large enclosure wall - were found at the western portion of the citadel area H/V.
           The Hyksos citadel must have been constructed towards the end of the Hyksos Period (ph. D/2), as fragments of Cypriot Bichrome Ware have been found in sand dumps deposited in order to raise the land for the construction. It is common knowledge that this kind of pottery only appears for the first time towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age and at Tell el-Dab‘a during the late Hyksos Period (stratum D/2). From the mass of the enclosure wall a sherd of Cypriot Proto White Slip Ware was retrieved which appears in Tell el-Dab‘a – at trhe same time as the early Bichrome Ware – only from stratum D/2 onwards. A thorough ceramic assessment of the latest deposit of this stratum (locus 66), to be dated to the end of the Hyksos Period and the early 18th Dynasty, has been published by P. Fuscaldo.
           In the 2007 season south of the palace precinct in area H/VI-South and H/VII was found a settlement area, which also shows up in the geophysical survey. It was denuded by agricultural activity but from the presence of 18th Dynasty deposits it seems that this settlement continued on into the 18th Dynasty.

Fig. 1   Fig. 2   Fig. 3   Fig. 4a   Fig. 4b
Fig. 5   Fig. 6   Fig. 7

The Beginning of the New Kingdom, ph. D/1 (str. e/1)ˆ

Between the citadel of the Hyksos Period and the palace district of the Tuthmoside Period remains of at least two strata were found which should be thought of in terms of relative and absolute chronology. Both date right back to the very early 18th Dynasty.
           The first of the two strata (ph. D/1.2 = str. e/1.2) was found in area H/III and in H/VI-South (Fig. 1). It consists of a big enclosure wall in its south, which remained intact for more than a century till the end of the 15th century till the reign of Amenophis II. North of this enclosure wall the remains of a palace appeared which was equipped with a large paved hall. It was difficult to follow in the excavations due to its destruction by later walls and its position deep under the subsoil water table. Beside the palace were remains of round silos. At the northern section of our excavations, the platform C of the late Hyksos Period had been taken down during the early 18th Dynasty and a storage compound set up on top of it. It consisted of at least 30 round grain silos and other silos were found beside the Palace in the south and at other places. Each silo was about 5.25 m (10 cubits) in diameter. The silos were renewed up to four times which would speak in favour of a long time span. This amenity was used to store enormous quantities of grain and probably other foodstuff for a considerable number of people. It could have been a makeshift military facility for supplying troops.
           Of importance to the chronology may be a foundation deposit under a wall of this compound (L 1057). It contained a bowl and clay model items of pottery, such as hoes, baskets, mortars, sieves, a loaf of bread and especially a chunk of meat with a hieratic ink inscription (Reg. 8741). Unfortunately we have so far been unable to decipher this inscription because of its very faded condition. No traces of wall plaster or wall paintings were found within this stratum. In another foundation deposit under a wall of another magazine were found three skulls and three right hands of men. Other offering pits of the same phase were filled with broken pottery such as bowls, cups, beakers and charred animal bones, mostly of bulls. They remind one of offering pits found from the Hyksos Period and are thought to originate from ritual meals, perhaps funerary repasts.
            Proof positive that this phase dates to early in the time of the 18th Dynasty – and after the conquest of Avaris (ca. 1532-1530 BC) by Ahmose - was provided by ceramic examination. The re-appearance of Theban flint tools and of Marl A vessels –products of Upper Egypt which had disappeared almost completely during the Second Intermediate Period  –  is a convincing indicator of a united economy as re-established during the early 18th Dynasty.
           The second intermediary phase (D/1.1 = str. e/1.1) consists of pit graves with one exception without any offerings (Fig. 2, 3). They were found within a compound and cut into walls and other remains of the Hyksos Period (ph. D/2) as well as into the earlier intermediary phase D/1.2 (see above). Other types of graves were only found outside of the compound. They consisted of single and multiple burials lying on their chests or in haphazard positions. Also four pits with horse and mule burials appeared within the compound. They were identified as stallions, most probably military transport and chariot animals. More single human burials in pits without any offerings were found along the southern enclosure wall of the above-mentioned palatial compound in area H/VI.
           It is difficult, at this stage, to interpret this context. The majority of the burials were young men – soldiers in all likelihood – some of them show signs of injury. The burials had not all been synchronous, and had been found interred into a layer of post-Hyksos deposits, dating from the beginning of the 18th Dynasty. Therefore they should be looked upon as the result of epidemics and of executions in a big military camp nearby. Of special interest in this respect is a round pit with two skeletons of males at its base, lying on their stomachs (Fig. 4). On top of them were about 300 smashed pots and limestone fragments. Without doubt this is the evidence of an execration ritual.
           Some of the skeletons show physical features which most probably identifies them as southern Nubians. Such a conclusion can be corroborated by finds of Kerma beakers and cooking pots as well as missiles of Kerma type within the next stratum ph. C/3 (= str. d) which dates to the Tuthmoside Period, indicative that Kerma people were engaged as soldiers, more especially as archers, in the Egyptian army.

Fig. 1   Fig. 2   Fig. 3   Fig. 4

The Palace District of the Tuthmoside Period, Ph. C3-2  (Str. d-c)ˆ

The early 18th Dynasty palace district apparently covers a part of the same ground as the palace precinct of the late Hyksos Period but has a different orientation. It has been excavated and explored on a large scale by a geophysical survey (Fig. 1). The most prominent elements are a smaller (F) and a bigger palatial structure (G). They were set up parallel to each other and enclose a huge space in between with a breadth of 150 cubits (78.75 m). This space housed a large rectangular artificial lake (Fig. 2).
           Both buildings were constructed on top of over 7 m high platforms and were accessible by ramps at their north-eastern face. Both are surrounded by a common enclosure wall (H), which has, as the geophysical survey revealed, a monumental doorway with pylons in the midst of its north-eastern face, leading directly to the central axis of the court. A second gate through this enclosure wall with a porch of two columns leads directly to the base of the ramp of palace G. There is another palatial building (J) attached to the south of palace G. It is also constructed on a platform and accessible by a ramp.
           Two phases are distinguishable in the use of the palace that could also tie in with neighbouring districts. The early one (ph. C/3 = str. d) consists of the Palaces F, G, J and the enclosure wall H. Wall paintings on lime plaster, associated with Palace F and to some extent with Palace G belong to this phase.
           Palaces F, G and enclosure wall H continued to be used in the second phase C/2 (str. c) after some repair. The wall plaster of lime had come down and was probably replaced by a new wall coating but without paintings. Palace G was given an inner enclosure wall in the north-west and the south-east. Palace J was dismantled in this phase and gave way to a large workshop W2 (Fig. 3) with offices and magazines, which were added to the south-west of Palace G. Another workshop (W1) (Fig. 4)was constructed against the north-eastern enclosure wall H. There, two lumps of arrowheads with a total of over 140 Aegean arrow-tips of bronze were retrieved, showing that the workshops also served military production (Fig. 5A/5B).In all workshops were found pumices, largely from the Minoan eruption of Thera and the floor of Workshop W2 contained more than 10% of pumice abrasion.
           South-west of the medium sized Palace F a complex with magazines (K) was added in which pottery, partly precious imported wares and faience tablets and figurines were kept (area H/V). According to the pottery, the magazines were in use from late in the reign of Tuthmosis III until Amenophis II (c. 1450-1401 B.C.).
           Attached to the north-east of Palace F in Area H/I is a compound (I) comprising numerous buildings, which could be considered as workshops as pumice in large quantities, projectiles and vessels of calcite and inlays of gypsum crystals were found. They are divisible into three subphases (Fig. 6). According to ceramic studies they date back to the time of Tuthmosis III till the reign of Amenophis II (c. second half of the 15th century B.C.).  South-west of the palace precinct the geophysical survey revealed a big cluster of houses (O) which, from their orientation, also seem to date from the time of the New Kingdom. Excavations on a small scale in 2007 revealed domestic buildings of the Hyksos Period, which seemed to have continued in this area into the time of the New Kingdom. More clarification is needed by excavation here. North-east of the palace district there is another enclosed compound (N).

Fig. 1   Fig. 2   Fig. 3
Fig. 4   Fig. 5A   Fig. 5B   Fig. 6

The three major elements of the palace district will be described in greater detail:ˆ

           From palace F in area H/I (Fig. 7A/7B) only a platform substructure has been preserved. Its dimensions are 135 x 90 cubits (c. 70.5 x 47 m = ratio 1.5 : 1). The huge mud-brick walls show an inner division in casemate fashion. All they represent is the foundation of a monumental elevated building. The wall compartments were filled with soil and brick material including sherds from the late Hyksos Period. The building cuts into the extended late Hyksos Period fortification wall A and rests there on a sand bed on top of it (H/I-n/25, West section). It was accessible by a ramp c. 6.40 m (12 cubits) wide, which was attached at the north-eastern (locally northern) flank of the platform. This ramp not only cuts into the remains of the Hyksos fortification wall. It must have been constructed within a long breach of this Hyksos wall (A) as, according to the geophysical survey, the eastern enclosure wall of the 18th Dynasty crosses the Hyksos wall. Blocks of a granite doorway of King Amenemhet I, found more than 100 years ago by E. Naville, are likely to have been used afterwards as an entrance gate at the start or at the upper landing of the ramp (Fig. 8A/8B).
           Following the parallel of the "Southern Palace" at Deir el-Ballas (Fig. 9) of 200 x 90 cubits, which still stands about 7 m high, our platform can be identified as an elevated small palace on top of a podium. The peculiar pattern of casemate walls can help in reconstructing the structure resting on top. This task is, however, more difficult than the reconstruction of the other two buildings which have a clearer plan and can thus only be considered in some parts as tentative. The ramp leads via an entrance room into a square courtyard into a series of rooms which may have served as magazines or as a series of ceremonial entrance chambers with indirect access into a square central courtyard. This one was equipped most likely with colonnades at all four sides and led via a vestibule into the back part of the palace. The lattice system of walls there seems confusing at first sight, particularly as the compartments are not all of equal size.
           The riddle could be solved by applying the tripartite central rooms of the big Kahun house on top of the compartments of our palace. In such a way a central throne room with four columns set in a square fashion, a side room with two columns and a unit for a robing room with possibly a bath and toilet could be reconstructed. Two corridors, which are most probably the foundations for stairs at the eastern and western side of the important rooms are very clear. Another such stairway can be recognised at the north-western edge of the building. As the private rooms are missing this palace may be identified as a ceremonial palace. Very special is its furnishing with Minoan paintings which gives scope for the functional and spiritual interpretation treated below.

Fig. 7A   Fig. 7B   Fig. 8A   Fig. 8B   Fig. 9
             ˆ2. The far bigger palace G in area H/II-III and H/VI measures 320 x 150 cubits (168 x 78.75 m) (Fig. 10)It is nearly completely excavated and has been extensively surveyed by geophysical methods. It shows similarities to parts of the “Northern Palace” at Deir el-Ballas. This is apparent, not only from the similar size, but also the system of long foundation rooms, which are arranged in groups in opposite fashion, in a north-south and east-west direction. What is preserved of our palace are only the lower parts of very sturdy mud-brick walls (5, 8 and 10 bricks = 2.15 - 4.30 m wide) which leave only narrow compartments filled with soil, debris and mud bricks. The thickness of the walls is most likely explicable by the enormous weight of the construction on the upper floor.
           Some of the rooms of the ground floor were magazines, accommodated in the south-eastern strip of the building. Most likely vaults would have covered them. The representation-rooms must have been on the upper storey, which is no longer preserved. The existence of an upper floor can also be concluded from other evidence. At the north-eastern (locally northern) edge of the palace we see a ramp, which leads to an open terrace. As no floor was found within the terrace but only soil filling, it must have been filled till the upper floor. There is also an inner narrow corridor leading upwards. Most of the ground-floor rooms have only a poorly defined, un-compacted floor. According to remains of storage jars, and arrow tips of bronze and flint some of them were used as magazines. Others had no clear traces of floors at all.
           The building can be reconstructed according to its foundations by identifying the thick walls as carrier walls and the thinner walls as guidelines for finding the foundation of columns (Fig. 11A/11B). Helpful in the reconstruction is also the room configuration of known palaces in Egypt (Fig. 9/12). A ramp leads up to the palace proper, passing a bathroom at its base. With a gradient of 1:5 the length of the ramp of 70 cubits the height of the platform could be calculated to 7,35m (14 cubits). Just before the base of the ramp a secondary entrance with a narrow ascending corridor led into the left side of the building. It was obviously for the servants of the palace and repeats the left side narrow corridors in the Kahun House of the Middle Kingdom.
           The room programme starts off with a huge square courtyard, opening up north-east (entrance side) and flanked on its sides by colonnades. At its rear there used to be a portico, three rows of columns deep, leading through a very heavy wall into a broad transverse vestibule with two rows of columns. There follows a bipartition of the building into a square hall (c. 55 x 55 cubits) with four rows of columns in the south-eastern part and a room configuration of equal size in the north-western half. The room to the left was surely the throne room; the other element on the right has the same configuration as the typical temples of the Tuthmosis III Period. Its entrance wall was doubled by a second wall behind which, according to the magnetic properties of the surveyed brick features in all likelihood contained a stairway leading from the throne room upwards to another floor or a roof. This gives an appearance of a pylon-like structure. Behind it one finds a tripartite element of long narrow rooms, which must have been accessed by the middle room or theoretically by the western room because of the position of the stairs. The easternmost room was the widest and, if we take the Tuthmoside temples as a model, would have led to a transverse room in the rear of this element. If our reading of the foundations is correct it must have been the hidden sanctuary in the back of the Tuthmoside temples (Fig. 13).
Fig. 10   Fig. 11A   Fig. 11B   Fig. 12   Fig. 13
              ˆThe temple integrated in the palace would make sense as it is very strange to have the throne room on the left, which means on the minor side, of the palace. But giving the god priority over the king would explain the arrangement of the room program. Having temples integrated into palaces is a feature thus far not known in Egypt, but it is well known in Mesopotamia and northern Syria. It means that the god lives with the king. In our case it could be that with many Near Eastern features surviving at this site into the New Kingdom also religious architectural ideas were transformed into Egypian architectural ideas. That the idea of the divine and royal/human residence side by side was present in Egypt can be shown in the architecture of the big mansions at Tell el-‘Amarna (Fig. 14A/14B) nwhich were constructed repeatedly side by side with solar chapels which gained in some examples the dimensions of temples.
           Behind the throne room the sizeable private part of the palace with the residential quarters was blocked off by the thickest wall of the whole structure. This part was most probably accessible via the throne room and from a side entrance leading into an ascending corridor into the first floor. Under this residential part there were cellars in which remains of weapons were found. The cellars were accessible from the side entrance and from the residence via a staircase. Behind the supposed temple a hall with columns leading into a tripartite shrine was found. It seems that also the divine part of the palace continued into an intimate residential quarter for the god, who was most likely Amun, the major god of the 18th Dynasty.
           It is most interesting that the major access ramp of the palace and also the side entrance in the east passed bath rooms (Fig. 15A/15B), equipped with stone basins, the bathroom at the side entrance leading to the residential quarters also contained jugs of Cypriot Bichrome Wheelmade Ware, considered a luxury ware in the eastern Mediterranean at that time (Fig. 16A/16B).It seems that everybody who entered the palace had to undergo a bath or a cleaning ritual.
Fig. 14A   Fig. 14B   Fig. 15A   Fig. 15B
Fig. 16A   Fig. 16B
              ˆ3. The smaller Palace (J) follows a very similar pattern with a ramp leading to a square courtyard with colonnades at two adjoining sides (Fig. 10/11A). One is the porch leading into the palace proper. After a transverse vestibule follows the reception room, behind which is the private section of the palace, consisting of a private reception room, a bath- and a sleeping room. Behind this could be reconstructed a loggia and a terrace. This building also had a side entrance passing a washing installation, which not only served as a bath but also to wash dishes.  Numerous pots were found there still in situ.
           4. East of Palace G a public building (L) with palatial outfit was excavated in 2005 and 2007 (Fig. 17). It was connected with a special door to the private side entrance of Palace G. The major part of this building was used in the ground floor and had a paved floor with a lime coating. In its south there was a big courtyard or hall of a size of ca. 30 x 25 m. This part was surrounded by a double wall, perhaps a filling wall, and had an official entrance from the east. North of the large room was a bathroom and a smaller room with a round podium, covered by lime plaster. A corridor leads to the north. To its east magazines were accommodated. The northern part of the building is for the time being difficult to reconstruct and it is possible that the building continued on a higher level on top of filled casemate compartments as the other palaces. It is likely that this building was administrative and served for the superintendent of this town. One also gets the impression that the whole palatial precinct was a replica of the main palatial compound in the residence with the quarters of the vizier included in the royal quarter as reconstructed by van .????
           The plan of the palace district of the 18th Dynasty shows clearly that the smaller palatial structure (F) and the big palace (G) were conceived at the same time within one and the same system. Both not only face the same way (see above), but have been built at an exact distance of 150 cubits from each other and enclose a common courtyard. The same enclosure wall also surrounds them. Also, from a purely stratigraphic point of view, structure (F) was built at the same time as the palace (G)

Fig. 10   Fig. 11A   Fig. 17

The Minoan Wall-Paintingsˆ

           The most exciting and unexpected discovery in connection with this palace district was the enormous quantity of fragments of wall plaster covered with Minoan paintings. They can now be allocated to the two palaces (F) and (G) of str. d, belonging to the overall phase C/3.
           Two thirds of all the fragments – among them the pieces of the bull-leaping scenes –are associated with Palace F. This can be concluded by the position and the shape of the dumps north-east of the building (Fig. 1/2). The dumps with the paintings must have been thrown from, or carried down, the ramp and a big quantity must also have been deposited along the stump of the old enclosure wall A of the Hyksos Period. No fragment was found within the filling of the compartments of the platform nor within its foundation ditches. Also at the base of the ramp of Palace G were found dumps of wall plaster with paintings. Most of them were carried through a special door through the enclosure wall H, situated near the beginning of the ramp. The fragments were dumped outside the palace precinct. Unfortunately a recent drainage canal passing the doorway destroyed most of the deposited plaster fragments. In comparable position to the fresco-dumps at Palace F at the base of the landing of the ramp leading up to Palace G fragments of paintings on loam coating could be retrieved. They showed Egyptian motives such as a uraeus on a nb-basket. But the colour conventions and possibly motifs also display Minoan influence.
           As both palaces (F and G) were constructed of mud brick on alluvial soil one has to envisage a compaction process of at least 10-15 years. Depending to the time of application of the plaster and the paintings his could have led to a quick flaking off of the non-elastic lime plaster and would explain the deposition of the plaster fragments at the foot of the palaces. The date of the production of the paintings within the phases of Palace F can be assessed by the stratigraphy of buildings/workshops (I) abutting the already heavily weathered ramp. They date already to the second phase C/2 (str.c) of the palace and can be divided themselves into three subphases which date, according to scarabs and pottery, into the second half of the reign of Tuthmosis III and the reign of Amenophis II (c. second half of the 15th century BC).
           The earliest dumps with wall-paintings were found on top of debris covering the earliest parts of those buildings. This means that they were removed latest at the beginning of the second phase of the palace (ph. C/2, str. c) during the later Tuthmoside Period and that they have been most likely applied on the walls before, during the earlier phase of the palace (ph. C/3, str. d, about 1479-1450 B.C.), during the early part of the reign of Tuthmosis III. It is still a matter of pure conjecture whether the wall-painting fragments inside the later settlement, or on top of it, had been carried upwards by the excavation of pits or whether some of the paintings had stayed on the walls longer and flaked off later, in the era of str. c. The former possibility seems more likely.
           The study and reconstruction of the wall paintings is a task which will take a very long time as only about 5 - 8% of the original wall programme is preserved. The technique of the paintings is typically Aegean. The paintings were applied on damp lime plaster largely in fresco technique. The lime plaster was highly compressed by pounding and mixing with crushed murex shells as also the custom at Knossos and Thera. An open-air workshop was found outside the palace compound at the banks of the former river with basins where the mortar was prepared. Patterns were planned with string impressions in gridwork on the still damp surface. Also the colour conventions were purely Minoan such as blue for grey or blue for green. The motives and the style of the paintings were Minoan.

Fig. 1   Fig. 2
             There is a long frieze of bull leaping and bull grappling scenes, one part against the background of a maze pattern (Fig. 3). The upper background is red as is customary in the early phase of the Late Palace Period. On the right part one can recognize two blue-speckled bulls and two reddish-yellow speckled bulls with yellow acrobats, there is also one instance of a white acrobat of a bigger size than his counterparts in the Taureador-frieze at Knossos.
           Of special importance is the presence of emblems of the Minoan palace such as the half-rosette frieze at the base of the taureador frieze with the maze pattern. Equally important is the presence of big emblematic griffins (Fig. 4/5) of the same size as in the throne room of Knossos where they flank the throne. Their iconography with the hanging spirals is purely Minoan. As in Knossos they may signify the throne of the “Mistress of Animals”, i.e. the queen, as suggested by eminent Minoan scholars. One may expect the griffins within a throne room of Palace F. This room also seems fitting for a floor painting with a maze pattern (Fig. 8/9).
              The above mentioned palatial royal emblems together with fragments of a more than life-size white lady in a flounced skirt from Palace G (Fig. 10) give rise to the thought that the Minoan installations may have embellished the residence of a Minoan personality of royal rank, and it seems highly probable that a part of this royal palace was the seat of a foreign wife of a Tuthmoside king. The evaluation of the pottery and the seals date the early phase of the palace to the time of the young Tuthmosis III.
              Other motives were hunting scenes with dogs and lions chasing ungulates (Fig. 6A/6B), other friezes show leopards pouncing on prey (Fig. 7A/7B). Such representations reflect the Minoan ideology of the hierarchy in nature. Other motives include ritual scenes in front of house façades and life size figures of males and females. There are, however, also ornamental motives such as running spirals, floral motives, rocky landscape into which compositions such as hunts could be accommodated.
Fig. 3   Fig. 4   Fig. 5   Fig. 6A   Fig. 6B
Fig. 7A   Fig. 7B   Fig. 8   Fig. 9   Fig. 10

A hiatus, the fortress of Horemheb and Ramesside cemeteriesˆ

           After Amenophis II the site seems to have been abandoned. The reasons for this are very unclear. The palaces were torn down most probably for other projects, which we find, however only from the late reign of Amenophis III, the Amarna- and Post-Amarna Period onwards. A fortress was constructed south of the Tuthmoside palaces, which now served as quarries. Horemheb later enlarged this fortress substantially towards the north-east, most likely to secure the harbour basin (Fig. 1). At the same time this king re-constructed the temple of Seth, which had been abandoned, or at least devastated, in the Amarna Period. It is probable that, during the first phase of the late 18th Dynasty fortress, before the constructions of Horemheb, shepherds used the Tuthmoside ruins as a refuge and buried sheep and goats there, which die mostly in their first year. But also adult animals were buried with great care. It seems very likely that those responsible for the animal burials were menmenet-shepherds of a temple, who were obliged to care for those animals, which belonged to a god.
           Nothing is preserved of the interior of the fortress of Horemheb except some dumps with faience tiles. All surface remains were scraped away by agricultural levelling. What escaped to some extent, however, were tombs of the time of the 19th Dynasty, which cut into the ruins of the fortress and the palatial site of the Tuthmosides (Fig. 2/3). The tombs were furnished very differently. There were burials in slipper coffins (Fig. 4) with facial masks, simple burials bundled up in reeds in such a way that the undertakers did not know anymore on which side to bed the bodies. Many were thus buried positioned on their chest. There were also burials without any protection situated in surpine position, oriented  E-W, with the heads to the W or N-S with the heads to the S (Fig. 5). One also found infant burials within pottery containers, normally two handled Ramesside storage jars. The offerings were either not preserved or poor, consisting normally of one or a few pots. Some had personal ornaments. Of particular interest is the fact that scarab seals were in several occasions found within the left hand of the burial. This may be a tradition observed in the burials of the Hyksos Period, which may have persisted in this region with the survivors of the Hyksos Period.
           These cemeteries were already noticed by F. Ll. Griffith in 1895 when the monuments were much better preserved. According to his testimony the cemeteries were large at that region which may signify that the area of ‘Ezbet Helmy was again in ruins which were used as burial ground in the Ramesside Period. The harbour installations must have moved to the other side of the big basin if it was still in use. Probably the harbours moved also to another place in Per-Ramesses. In the Late Period the area of cEzbet Helmy was used as a settlement, from which only the deep pits with the storage vessels of the 27th Dynasty survived.

Fig. 1   Fig. 2   Fig. 3   Fig. 4   Fig. 5
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