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International Conference
Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt

(Cracow, Poland: 28th August - 1st September 2002)
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Tell el-Farkha 2001-2002. Excavations at the Western Kom.

Krzysztof M. CIALOWICZ

Instytut Archeologii, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Kraków (Poland)


During the first seasons (1998-2000) our work on the Western Kom at Tell el-Farkha concentrated on the centre of the kom. In 2001, work on the Western Kom was concentrated on the area adjoining the already explored part to the north and west. A total surface of 505 m2 was opened for excavations. The choice of so big an area for exploration was a result of the previous seasons of research, when important architectural structures had been discovered which extend in these directions.

In 2001 the investigations on the Western Kom concentrated on the latest periods of settlement, that is, phases 5 and 4 of the Tell el-Farkha stratigraphy. Phase 4 is dated to the Naqada IIIa2 and IIIb (IIIA1-IIIB) period, while phase 5, identified in the highest layers, features an assemblage typical of the transition from Naqada IIIb to IIIc1 (late IIIB-IIIC1), that is, the time of dynasty 0 and the beginning of dynasty 1.

A small deposit of figurines and vessels made of faience, clay and stone was discovered just below the surface. Of special interest are the images of baboons and a representation of a prostrate, naked man. Another clay figurine found nearby represents a standing man, longhaired and bearded, and also naked. The style of execution of the latter figurine indicates its predynastic origins. Another group deserving emphasis is a set of five egg- or barrel-shaped clay rattles with engraved decoration.

The deposit was found within the massive walls of a relatively small room that was part of a building of considerable size (at least 25 by 15 m). The structure even continues to the west and south beyond the area explored in 2001. The mudbrick wall survives to a height of over 2 m. The said structure is made up of a series of rooms, which agglutinated over a certain period of time in response to apparently growing needs or were rebuild and further developed after natural disasters with cataclysmic consequences. One such event may have been a fairly mild earthquake, which resulted in the collapse of walls of a part of the rooms lying southeast and northwest of the area where the figurine deposit was discovered. The clearly collapsed debris covered many items, including big storage vessels, thin-walled red bowls and cosmetic palettes of greywacke.

In 2002 the investigations on the Western Kom concentrated on the middle period of settlement, that is, phase 3. This can be connected with the end of the Naqada II period and the beginning of Naqada III. More precisely probably Naqada IId2/IIIa1 - beginning of Naqada IIIa2(?) or the end of IID2 - beginning of IIIA1(?).

This year our main efforts were concentrated on the so-called naqadian residence. During the 2000 season we discovered a 2,5-m wide brick wall crossing the area excavated that season from SW to NE. The remaining part of this big building was hidden beneath the western part of the tell. This season we reached the level of the building. Its main part was covered by a thick layer of Nile silt (from a few to 20 cm thick) and a layer of black and white ashes. This evidently shows that the building was burned at a certain moment and afterwards flooded by the Nile.



The big walls continue also in the area excavated in 2002, dividing the building into many rooms. The rooms are narrow and long. In the southern we found two ovens with pots standing in them. The remains of many other architectural constructions were found on the west, north and south from the mentioned building. This part of the settlement was probably also destroyed by the earthquake.


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