François Leclère (PSL Research University Paris / EPHE Sciences religieuses, EA 4519 – Égypte ancienne : archéologie, langue religion)
How Eveha Participates
The season which took place in the spring of 2014 at Tanis (in the northeast of the Nile Delta, Egypt) was the first of a new four-year project focused principally on the organisation of the urban architecture and the hydrological palaeoenvironment of the Roman period town. It also involves Egyptological and epigraphical studies relating to the Tanite inscriptions from the Third Intermediate Period.
Important topographical work was carried out, thanks to the collaboration of Éveha International:
– A general topographical map with contour lines, in local coordinates, was created in 1984-1985, using approximately twenty benchmarks installed on the site. The benchmarks still remaining today were georeferenced and some corrections were made to the original map. A Digital Terrain Model is in the process of being developed.
– A site grid was also installed in the south-western part of the temenos of Amun and in the central part of the tell, based on a grid of rectangles measuring 20 x 40 metres and covering a surface of 25 hectares, in order to carry out magnetic surveys and fieldwalking.
The magnetic survey produced spectacular results, particularly in the vast central plain, where few remains were visible on the surface. This demonstrated the presence of a great number of buildings, divided into several areaseach with very distinct characteristics. Part of the street network around which these areas were organised was also identified, characterised by three main axes oriented east/west, north/south and north-east/south-west. Strongly magnetic anomalies registered in several places correspond to workshop waste and to concentrations of pottery kilns.
The pottery found during fieldwalking begun in the same zone enabled us to suggest dates for these areas: end of the Third Intermediate Period to the north-west, Late and Hellenistic Periods to the south-west, and Romano-Byzantine period to the north-east. It also demonstrated that some of the workshop zones discovered corresponded to pottery kilns dating from the end of the Third Intermediated Period, providing for the first time in Egypt the chance to excavate ceramic production workshops from this period.
The participation of Éveha International also took the form of deep core sampling, conducted using a manual auger, every 100 to 200 metres on a north-south axis, across the middle part of the tell. These samples enabled us to precisely estimate the depth of the anthropic layers and to reconstruct a general stratigraphic profile of the town, up to the surface of the natural sandy mound dating from the Pleistocene – the gezira on which the town developed. The coring also showed the existence of a large body of water, possibly a lagoon, in the northern part of the sites, immediately north of the temenos of Amun. The core sampling, which will be carried out over the whole of the tell during the coming seasons, will give us a precise idea, in three dimensions, of the general morphology of the site and of the underlyinggezira, and will allow us to reconstruct the main phases of occupation of the tell in real space.
Regarding the study of the palaeolandscape of the Roman period city, an initial analysis of maps and old and new satellite imagery demonstrates the evolution of the local hydrography since the end of the 18th century, and forms a starting point for the search for the location of the ancient branch of the Nile close to the site of Tanis. Several resistivity surveys were conducted in the fields to the west of the site, north and south of the modern town of San el-Hagar, on both sites of the current channels. The promising results will be confirmed during the following seasons by a systematic programme of geomorphological core sampling. The analysis will also include the lagoons and former channels near the ancient town.
In relation to the epigraphy and the Egyptology, the first phase of a palaeographic study was conducted in the tomb of Shoshenq III (NRT V), in the context of a general study of the hieroglyphic writing of the Third Intermediate Period based on inscriptions in the royal tombs. A study of the 21st dynasty blocks was also resumed, with the aim of finalising publications (the study of 200 blocks from private tombs of the 21st dynasty, reused in the tomp of Shoshenq III; series of blocks and statues carrying royal inscriptions from the Third Intermediate Period).