Funerary Culture and Bioarchaeology of Tell Ibrahim Awad II: from the Early Dynastic Period to the Late Old Kingdom
04 / 2011 - 06 / 2013
History of the research Tell Ibrahim Awad is a low settlement mound in the central part of the Eastern Nile Delta in Egypt (see map). It was selected for more detailed research during a survey between 1984 and 1988, supported by NWO. In excavation seasons between 1986 and 2004 in Area A (see the plan) successive temples from ca. 3200 B.C. to the beginning of the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2000 B.C.) came to light, making it one of the oldest temple sites in Egypt, with an almost unparalleled continuity. A large temple deposit with links to other sites all over Egypt testifies to the cultural unity already achieved in Early Dynastic times. The upper layers of a cemetery beside the temple (early Middle Kingdom to Late Old Kingdom), containing so far about 80 burials, were already investigated and published. Some settlement traces came to light as well. Several of these seasons were co-financed by NWO. The lower layers of the cemetery have, so far, eluded proper excavation. This is more than just a pity, since these early layers are arguably even more important than those belonging to the Middle Kingdom. Hardly anything is known of Early Dynastic and Predynastic life in the Delta, though there are many indications that the area played an important role in the formation of the Egyptian state, around 3000 BC. Tell Ibrahim Awad offers a rare chance to study the changes in society throughout these formative periods. Primary aim The primary aim of this project is to complete the investigation of the deeper layers of the cemeteries in Area A and B, from the Late Old Kingdom down to (at least) the Early Dynastic Period, to get a clearer and more complete diachronic picture of the inhabitants of the settlement concerning their health, age and mortality, among other indicators. The Early Middle Kingdom and First Intermediate Period layers have been investigated earlier. As stated above, this is important, for very little is known of the earliest communities in the Egyptian Nile Delta (as opposed to those in the Nile Valley). To some extent, the cemetery reflects the various social strata of the local community and its perception of death and the Hereafter. Understanding the layout and hierarchy of the graves in the cemetery will significantly add to our understanding of the early society in the Delta. Secondary aim Only disparate parts of the settlement itself have come to light so far, beside the temple and the cemetery. To gain a better insight in the cohesion and extension of the settlement (and the extension of the cemetery as well) a magnetic survey is planned. This will in all probability result in limited soundings on spots selected in this process.