The goal of the project is to obtain a better understanding of the living conditions of people in ancient Egypt during the late Middle Kingdom (ca. 1800–1700 BC). Whereas relatively many facts are known are about the realm of the dead, many living conditions remain unstudied.

In Egyptian archaeology, comprehensive publications of settlement areas including all details are, as before, extremely seldom. The thorough documentation of thousands of pottery fragments and hundreds of small finds, as well as the already analysed animal bones (J. Boessneck†, A. Von den Driesch†) from the unplanned settlement of the late Middle Kingdom, in Area A/II in the phases H, G/4 and G/3-1 therefore offer the favourable opportunity to publish an ancient Egyptian settlement with many details, thereby making available on the one hand valuable primary data and on the other hand material for comparisons.

These three settlement phases, lying on top of one another, were presumably inhabited by people from lower social levels. This can be concluded from the size of the houses and the preserved house inventories. The project reconstructs the living conditions of people in the marshy delta of Egypt in the late Middle Kingdom. In addition to the mud-brick architecture which is typical for ancient Egyptian residential buildings, round silos for storing grain, hearths, industrial ovens and irregular connecting roads have also been brought to light.

The houses of this settlement are systematically described and, together with the finds, are presented and analysed. Vessels of pottery and stone, stone implements and figurines of faience and objects of hard rock constitute the most common categories of finds. The already published analysis of animal bones has also been included, so that information on the diet of the inhabitants can be given. Imported ceramic vessels from the Levant and Upper Egypt provide insights into the trading networks with these regions.

The type of settlement presented is until now not covered by the known settlements. The arrangement ensued irregularly with individual houses that are uniform neither in size nor in groundplan. Such an arrangement, that one could define as organically evolved, is in contrast to the planned orthogonal settlements that are designated as typical for Egypt and that are known from Lahun or from the Nubian forts. Furthermore, due to the presence of three successive settlement levels, the development of this site can be traced over a period of approximately 100 years.

Already published: Tell el-Dabʿa XXIV. The Late Middle Kingdom Settlement of Area A/II. A Holistic Study of Non-élite Inhabitants of Tell el-Dabʿa – Vol. 1. The Archaeological Report, the Excavations from 1966 to 1969 (Vienna 2020).

The first volume treats the western part of the tell A/II and contains the description of 18 quadrants, A/II-k–o/10–13, ca. 1600 m² in the three phases H, G/4 and G/3-1. The division of the finds into two volumes is based on the history of the excavations. The western part was excavated between 1966 and 1969, whereas the eastern part was studied after 1975. Over the course of time, excavation techniques developed further and also the amount of the archaeological finds which were available for new documentation was far greater for the later periods; for this reason, the finds were divided into two volumes. The book offers an extensive description of the finds and evidence of the residential regions 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 with circumstances of the finds. The special character of this settlement lies in the loose arrangement of irregular residential areas of differing sizes, which as such have no demonstrable parallels either in Egypt or in the Levant during the late Middle Kingdom.

Principal Investigator

Bettina Bader