Back to the
Cracow Conference
Main Page
International Conference
Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt

(Cracow, Poland: 28th August - 1st September 2002)
Back to
Early Dynastic Egypt
Main Page


Excavations at the Central Kom of Tell el-Farkha, 1990-2002


Muzeum Archeologiczne, Poznan (Poland)


         Four trial trenches were delineated on the central kom. The first of these was situated on the kom's southern slope, in an area which had been partly damaged by sebakhim and sand extraction. The second trench was also located in the southern section of the kom, where geophysical surveying had revealed the presence of anomalies with a distinctive magnetic signature. A sondage of the same size was located between the central and western koms. The fourth trench was marked out on the northern slope of the central kom. The site's general stratigraphy was confirmed in all of these sondages, though stratigraphic sequences vary between individual trenches and not all settlement phases are represented in each trench. The last two trenches were located in an area directly related to an alluvial zone. The settlement only extended this far during the phase attributable to the Lower Egyptian culture, riverside middens being the only features encountered here in later periods.
        At the top of the hill, in a place where in 1990 the Italian mission had excavated, was located the fifth and biggest trench. Our excavations there include levels of phases 4-6 of the settlement. Remains of phase 7 were mostly excavated by the Italians.

Phase 1. Settlements traces dating from this phase were recorded in all of the sondages. In the trenches the evidence of settlement is limited to small pits and postholes, rarely remains of shelters. In the areas close to the alluvial zone they are separated from the overlying strata by a distinct horizon of virtually sterile silt. Evidence of the Lower Egyptian culture settlement is best represented in trenches on the southern slope of the kom. Here, gezira sands occur at a much higher level. An earlier phase in these trenches is denoted by oval pits, sometimes lined with silt. A complete vessel was found among the pottery sherds with zig-zag decoration. The upper layers within this phase yielded evidence of a network of furrows and small pits.

Phase 2. There was no evidence for this phase on the northern slope of the tell. No mudbrick buildings were recorded in this level. The most notable feature comprised a round shelter of c. 3.5 m in diameter, which had been sunk to a depth of 40-50 cm, and had a hearth inside. A storage pit of about 1 m in diameter, and sunk to a similar depth, was found alongside the shelter. Lower Egyptian pottery is still present in the archaeological record of these features, though Naqada material also starts to make its appearance.

Phase 3. Rubbish dump layers probably begin to accumulate during this phase on the northern slope of the tell (these continue to build up until phase 6). These deposits are about 2 m thick and contain large amounts of pottery and, in particular, debris from thick-walled vessels. No constructions appeared here until phase 6. This part of the site was probably under greatest threat from flooding, thus no permanent buildings were raised here. On the southern slope a rubble deposit consisting of D-shaped bricks was located. During this phase mud brick buildings were raised for the first time.



Phase 4. The best-preserved building is located in the southern slope and dates from this phase. Its outline was recorded during the geophysical survey. A hearth, evidenced by the presence of an ash layer, was found inside this room, as were four complete, small vessels and several stone hammers. Another construction dating from this period is the relict wall revealed in the NW corner. The further extent of this wall is visible on the geomagnetic map of this area. Exploration of the trench on the top of kom C revealed a compact group of architectural features consisting of a number of small rooms surrounding two courtyards. In the rooms and the courtyards more than 50 stoves and fireplaces of different shape and constructions were found.

Phase 5. During this phase the southern portion of the central kom was probably no longer heavily build up. The only available evidence comes in the form of cuts and levelling layers present in the site's topmost strata. On the top of the kom a large utility site with a spacious courtyard, kiln complex and a large silo was recognised.

Phase 6-7. This phase is probably represented in the trench on the northern slope by a wall consolidating the sides of the kom and by a kind of wall or steps, made partly of mudbrick and partly of compacted silt - possibly the only remnants of riverbank reinforcements or a landing. On the top of the hill only fragments of relic walls and numerous traces of hearths and silo's were recorded.


Back to the Cracow Conference Abstracts
Next Page >>>