At Tell el-Dabʿa, written and pictorial sources are the great exception. Therefore, in order to gain insight into former cult practices, only archaeological relics can be studied. Extensive deposits have been preserved in the large sacred area in Area A/II, which will be examined more closely in this project and allow important insights into cultic practices.
A sacred district of the Second Intermediate Period (late 18th to mid-16th century BC) was discovered in Area A/II at the beginning of the OeAI excavations at Tell el-Dabʿa/Avaris under the direction of Manfred Bietak from 1966. It comprises two Syrian-Palestinian temples, two Egyptian temples and a house for ritual meals (for their architecture see M. Bietak’s projects). The temples thus reflect a typical mixed population, with their respective religious practices, at Tell el-Dabʿa/Avaris, the capital of the Hyksos. The analysis of the sacrificial pits in the forecourts of the temples (Dissertation V. Müller 1996, Publication 2008) revealed cult activities that continued into the early New Kingdom (2nd half of the 15th century BC). They demonstrate that even after the conquest of Avaris by the Upper Egyptian Thebes, old Levantine cult practices continued at this place.
The Egyptian temples are always connected to a cemetery, which most probably associates them to the cult of the dead. The Syrian-Palestinian temples in contrast seem to have been mainly reserved for the worship of the gods. Only the walls of the Egyptian Temple I were preserved high enough so that the former temple inventory was encountered in the form of ceramic vessels. This area was covered in an extensive publication (Tell el-Dabʿa V) by Manfred Bietak in 1991. The other temples could only be documented in part through their foundation walls, so nothing more can be said about their former inventory. The forecourts of the temples, however, revealed built altars and extensive layers containing pottery and animal bones that allow insights into the ritual practices and cults.
Joris Peters (LMU Munich)