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Skull and pottery storage jar, square J51, unit [11314]

South Tombs Cemetery 2006

 

Contents

Report on the excavation
Detailed descriptions of the excavated contexts
Surface structural remains
Index of small finds
The limestone stelae
Report on the human remains

Report on the excavation

Lindsay Ambridge and Mary Shepperson
The 2006 season of the South Tombs cemetery excavation ran from 1 March to 16 April. This cemetery, located on the slopes of a wadi that cuts through the group of South Tombs, was the subject of a systematic survey during the 2005 season, and this year saw the commencement of excavation. Area supervisors Mary Shepperson and Lindsay Ambridge oversaw the excavation of an area totaling 175 square metres.

The 2005 survey had identified the presence of a cemetery, based on surface scatters of human bone and ceramics, on the eastern slope of the wadi. Additional exploration of the wadi during the 2006 season revealed that the cemetery likely extends further than previously noted. Walking south-east, crossing from the low desert plain of Amarna into the mouth of the wadi, one can see surface material on both slopes of the valley, though the surface remains on the western side do not appear to extend as far south into the wadi as do those on the eastern side. An area on this eastern slope was chosen for excavation and a grid of 5-metre squares, given letter and number designations, was established. (Of the local excavation grids used at Amarna over the years, this one is number 14.) Four squares running west to east were opened initially; a further three squares were added to create a continuous excavation trench of 5 by 35 metres.

The topography of the eastern side of the wadi is characterized by a gently sloping deposit of gravely sand and limestone debris, leading to a steeper descent, of a few metres, to the wadi floor. This descending slope, composed of very loose and clean sand, formed not only the western boundary of our area of excavation but was also partially incorporated into the westernmost grid square. The eastern edge of the excavation began just a few metres down from where the loose sand deposit gave way to bedrock. The excavated strip thus covers almost the full slope of the deposit, from the bedrock of the desert plateau down to the wadi floor. The southern boundary of our grid was also determined by the natural topography, as a small channel, or subsidiary wadi, cut through the desert plain running roughly perpendicular to the main wadi. This channel lay at a distance of several metres from the line of excavated squares.

The seven squares comprising the 2006 excavation were not oriented to magnetic north; rather, they were oriented to the local topography such that the wadi bisecting the cemetery formed a baseline from which the squares proceeded upslope. Thus, the line of the wadi became our north-south axis. All directional notations in this report, with the exception of those for in situ burials, are in reference to this ‘site north’, rather than magnetic north.

A network of water channels running downslope towards the wadi bed covered the surface prior to excavation. These runnels were indicated by very shallow depressions in the gravely sand and they suggest fluvial action throughout this landscape. Other surface features of note included a circular depression, probably representing the most recent phase of robbing, adjacent to the excavated squares, as well as a scatter of mud bricks on the descent leading to the wadi floor.

It soon became apparent that there would be little, if any, stratigraphy to guide us here in the low desert, as the loose sand deposit was largely unchanging in composition. After a single trowel spit we did encounter, in all seven squares, swathes of harder, more compacted sand, most of which corresponded to the positions of the runnels that had been visible on the surface. This deposit of compacted sand – further indication of fluvial activity – was a mere crust; when removed with the trowel it revealed an expanse of loose sand with small gravely inclusions. Baulks, and therefore profiles, could be maintained on only the north and east sides of the 5 by 35 m strip. Occasionally a deposit of sand with a denser concentration of gravely inclusions would appear, but as these gravel lenses did not correspond strongly with any cultural material, they did not aid in stratigraphic interpretation. Of all the burials that were excavated during the season, not a single grave cut could be discerned in the sandy deposit.

Towards the end of the season it became clear that the bulk of the cultural material belonged to two levels – levels that could not be seen stratigraphically but which were defined by the nature of the human remains. The final distribution map plots the human remains according to these two levels. The upper level (Level III) is the context of disturbed material which could not, when excavated, be associated with an in situ burial deposit. The level directly beneath (Level IV) corresponds to the context in which in situ burials appeared. On the distribution map, the human remains are classified into two categories: bone cluster, and in situ burial deposit. The position of each skull is also indicated. It is important to note that the difference between an in situ burial deposit and a bone cluster (which may comprise a single coherent individual and include some articulated components) is the degree of disruption of the remains and the certainty with which the deposit could be said to be in its original depositional location. If the original attitude and orientation of the body could be discerned (as in the case of fully articulated legs), then the remains were considered an in situ burial deposit. If the bones were so disturbed and disarticulated such that the original position of the body was impossible to determine and its original depositional location uncertain (see for example Figure 2), then the remains were considered a bone cluster. As will be shown below, in most cases the distinction between a bone cluster and an in situ burial deposit was clear.

(Fig.2) A collection of disarticulate human bones (bone cluster (11341)) in square H51
(Fig.2) A collection of disarticulate human bones (bone cluster (11341)) in square H51

Level III material

The finds from this level totalled twenty skulls, twenty-one bone clusters (five of which were semi-articulated, coherent individuals), and two limestone stelae. The distribution of the human remains was uneven throughout the excavated area, as more than half of the skulls and all five semi-articulated individuals derived from square L51, whereas square H51 was devoid of any Level III material. Many of the isolated skulls showed evidence of moderate to severe weathering due to exposure on the ancient surface (see Figure 3), yet they also provided evidence indicating that they had not been displaced very far from their original depositional locations. For example, several of the cervical vertebrae were still articulated to one of the skulls; another had almost all of the teeth intact with plaited hair still adhering to the skull [photo 6723]; and yet another was found in association with a lower mandible (articulated lower mandibles were rare in both levels III and IV). One of the three bone clusters in J51 represented a significant deposit of human remains and was the first indication of the nature of the in situ burials that were to follow in the next level. In this cluster, the mix of disarticulated and articulated bones were separated by layers of reed matting and fabric that clearly underlay a variety of long bones, indicating that more than one individual was represented here. Disturbed and mixed by robbing in antiquity, this cluster was characteristic of the remains from Level III, as it contained some wholly articulated appendages (e.g. an articulated foot) while other bones in this same cluster showed evidence of exposure and disruption on the ancient surface.

(Fig.3) Isolated skull in the western margin of square I51. The bone is weathered, from a period of past exposure on the surface of the cemetery
(Fig.3) Isolated skull in the western margin of square I51. The bone is weathered, from a period of past exposure on the surface of the cemetery

(Fig.4) A well preserved skull exposed in square G51, part of bone cluster (11294), with both teeth and plaited hair remaining
(Fig.4) A well preserved skull exposed in square G51, part of bone cluster (11294), with both teeth and plaited hair remaining

Square L51 proved to be the most informative at Level III, as it yielded one of the most interesting deposits of the season: a heap, in the western half of the square, of five articulated torsos, eleven skulls, and a cluster of disarticulated bones. All five torsos were face-down, four of the five were oriented with heads downslope (figuratively speaking, as no skulls were articulated) and lying one above the other (see Figure 5). They consisted of articulated vertebrae, ribs, pelvic bones and one femur each (except for the uppermost body, which retained both femurs). The eleven skulls were scattered throughout this deep deposit and could not be associated with any particular torso. One of the skulls was completely blackened from charring, as was part of the fabric attached to the skull (Figure 6). This deposit also illustrated that some of the bodies buried in this cemetery were wrapped in a variety of fabrics. A coarse, knotted fabric (Figure 7) was found draped over the surface of a femur and a second type of fabric was also found in this deposit – a much more finely woven cloth which adhered to the surface of some of the bones (Figure 8).

(Fig.5) A heap of articulated torsos in the western part of square L51, probably piled here by grave-robbers
(Fig.5) A heap of articulated torsos in the western part of square L51, probably piled here by grave-robbers

(Fig.6) One of the skulls from the pile of human remains in square L51. It is blackened from charring, as is some of the fabric attached to it
(Fig.6) One of the skulls from the pile of human remains in square L51. It is blackened from charring, as is some of the fabric attached to it


(Fig.7) Coarse knotted fabric from the pile of human remains in square L51. (Fig.7) Coarse knotted fabric from the pile of human remains in square L51.

(Fig.8) Some of the bones in the pile of human remains in L51 had pieces of finely woven cloth adhering
(Fig.8) Some of the bones in the pile of human remains in L51 had pieces of finely woven cloth adhering

One of the most valuable aspects of this deposit is the light it sheds on ancient patterns of grave robbing. The position of the torsos indicates that they were heaped into a pile by robbers, likely dragged from graves located slightly upslope based on the orientation of the bodies. The degree of articulation strongly suggests that these bodies were robbed while they were still in the process of decomposing, and in this analysis we were much aided by the expertise of the expedition’s palaeopathologist, Prof. Jerry Rose. The corpses were perhaps pulled from their graves by the arms; the tenuous cartilage connecting the arms to the torso would have been somewhat decomposed and the arms would have detached from the body, and perhaps been tossed aside, accounting for the complete lack of arm bones in this deposit. The bodies were dragged slightly downslope and piled on top of each other, but the flesh was sufficiently intact such that the vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and femur(s) remained articulated. The absence of articulated lower legs proved to be highly significant, as later in the season we would discover in situ burials in Level IV that sometimes contained only articulated lower legs, likely those belonging to the heap of corpses found in Level III. As with the arms, the decomposing cartilage of the knees or ankles would have detached from the body when it was pulled from the grave, leaving the feet and lower legs behind.

(Fig.9) One of two limestone stelae (obj. 37640) found during the 2006 season, here shown as discovered
(Fig.9) One of two limestone stelae (obj. 37640) found during the 2006 season, here shown as discovered

Other notable finds from Level III include two limestone stelae, found in adjacent squares at a distance of approximately three metres from each other. The first to be recovered was found toppled onto its back; three fragments of mud bricks lay nearby, but otherwise it was not associated with any other material remains (Figure 9). The stela is rectangular (measuring approx. 45 cm long and 25cm wide), with a niche carved on the front side and the upper end carved to represent three triangular projections. The limestone, very pitted and weathered, bears no evidence of an inscription or other decoration although the comparative lack of weathering around the base suggests that the stela originally stood upright in the sand. The second stela is of roughly similar dimensions, though the inner niche is slightly smaller. Rather than having a ‘crenellated’ top, the upper edge comes to a point. It also was found toppled onto its back with a rock fragment resting on top of the pointed end. As with the first stela, it was not associated with any cultural remains and bears no inscription or decoration. Both are discussed further below.

Level IV material

The remains from this level totalled thirteen in situ burials, six bone clusters, and ten skulls; in contrast to the previous level, no skulls were isolated in this level, all being associated with either a bone cluster or in situ burial. An account of the finds will focus on the easternmost – and furthest upslope – square, M51. This square contained the highest quantity of in situ remains (five burials), in contrast to the relatively low density of disturbed material in Level III. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the disturbed material has generally been redeposited downslope of the burials from which they originate; upslope from square M51 there is only bedrock. The burials adhered to a pattern – not only a pattern of deposition but also one of robbing, as no single burial was undisturbed – which would be repeated throughout the rest of the trench. A detailed description of these five burials follows, as this will establish the general trends in the burial and post-burial activity as it has been revealed this season. Each coherent individual uncovered was assigned a sequential number, and these numbers do not correspond to spatial distribution but rather to the order in which they emerged.

(Fig.10) Individual 16 (11403), in squares M51/N51
(Fig.10) Individual 16 (11403), in squares M51/N51

• Individual 16 (Figure 10): an in situ, extended burial oriented NE-SW and consisting of two articulated lower legs and feet, which were completely covered in a collapsed coffin of cylindrical strips of wood woven together with thin rope. One kneecap was in situ, but neither femur was present. The woven coffin was disturbed directly above the kneecap, and the area of the upper legs and pelvis was devoid of bones, though the bottom of the coffin was still in place. The coffin remnants continued upwards, where the only remaining element of the disturbed torso was one articulated arm, a disarticulated hand, a sternum and half of a collapsed rib cage. Based on the position of the lower legs and feet, the body was lying on its left side, feet pointing SW. The leg bones were still stained an orange-brown from decayed cartilage and flesh, with pieces of skin and fabric adhering to the bone surface.

(Fig.11) Individual 17 (11379), in square L51
(Fig.11) Individual 17 (11379), in square L51

• Individual 17 (Figure 11): an extended in situ burial oriented NW-SE, with feet pointing SE. This body was the most complete and least disturbed of all the individuals throughout the excavation area, and as such provides the clearest indication of the full attitude of the interred individual. It consisted of two articulated legs and feet (covered by a woven wooden coffin), including both femurs articulated with a pelvis. The upper body was slightly disturbed but largely articulated, and included arms and hands. The left hand rested on top of the pelvis and the right hand curved around the pelvic bone. The lower legs were crossed and the position of the feet indicated that the body probably lay originally on its right side. Three disarticulated skulls were associated with the body – two lay adjacent to the feet and the third rested directly above the left arm. One of the skulls was particularly well preserved and retained a mass of long braided hair (Figure 12). A disarticulated bone cluster comprising at least two individuals (based on the two sets of semi-articulated vertebrae) was found lying directly on top of this individual’s torso; this cluster is likely the source of two of the three skulls.

(Fig.12) Skull (11391) found beside Individual 17, with well preserved hair braids
(Fig.12) Skull (11391) found beside Individual 17, with well preserved hair braids

(Fig.13) Individual 18, in square M51
(Fig.13) Individual 18, in square M51

• Individual 18 (Figure 13): this burial was badly robbed, with only two disarticulated feet, two vertebrae and one kneecap remaining. The orientation, NE-SW, was provided by the remains of the in situ woven wooden coffin.

(Fig.14) Individual 20, in square M51
(Fig.14) Individual 20, in square M51

• Individual 20 (Figure 14): this individual retained its articulated lower legs but the feet and femurs were missing. The legs were covered in fabric fragments as well as remnants of a collapsed, woven wooden coffin. This was one of the last burials to emerge at the end of the season, and there was not time to open a sondage into the adjoining square to determine whether any of the bones of the torso remained.

(Fig.15) Individual 13 in square M51, buried in a solid wooden coffin
(Fig.15) Individual 13 in square M51, buried in a solid wooden coffin

• Individual 13 (Figures 1 and 15): this burial was unique in that it consisted of a rectangular coffin made of solid wood, rather than a coffin of woven strips that was characteristic for most other burials. OrientedNW-SE, it measured 1.34 m long and 30 cm wide, and was clearly meant for a child or adolescent. Fragments of white plaster adhered to the exterior ends of the coffin and an orange discoloration along the interior and exterior sides suggested the presence of ochre pigment. Contained within was an articulated lower body of feet, legs, and pelvis, lying face-down. The knees were bent such that the feet were propped up on the edge of the coffin; the body had clearly been robbed and flipped over. A skull rested on the right leg. The upper body was jumbled, and included some vertebrae, ribs, two articulated arms, part of one hand, and a scapula. No coffin lid was present, though some collapsed wood fragments inside may have been part of it. A small ceramic vessel containing five nuts or seeds was positioned adjacent to the NE corner of the coffin.

The material remains from square M51 point to a pattern of grave robbing in which the upper body is clearly the focal point. The evidence suggests that the looters, upon reaching the grave, disturbed or tore apart the upper body, perhaps to find amulets or other items of jewellery. The lower body appeared to hold little attraction and in most cases the part of the coffin covering the legs was not disturbed. This pattern was repeated in the adjacent squares L51 and K51. L51 yielded three in situ burials of the type described above: an extended body in a woven, wood coffin. Two of these burials were so heavily disturbed that only the remnants of the coffin indicated the body’s orientation. A faience scarab bead, inscribed on the base with the cartouche of Menkheperre, was found in association with one of these disturbed burials. K51 produced only one in situ grave, much disturbed like those in L51.

Downslope of K51 the next three squares (H–J) were almost entirely devoid of any in situ material, with the exception of a double burial in I51, in which two extended bodies were buried facing each other. Everything above the kneecaps was jumbled such that the bones of the two torsos were completely mixed. Otherwise, this stretch of the trench was barren, which was contrary to expectations since I51 and J51 produced a significant quantity of disturbed material in Level III. However, the most surprising find of the season emerged in G51, close to the wadi floor and far from the concentration of in situ burials upslope. Towards the end of the season, a row of aligned mud bricks appeared in the southern half of the square. They revealed themselves to be the back wall of a vaulted brick tomb running along the south grid line. The excavation of this tomb and its associated features became the focus of the work in this square for the remainder of the season. Recognizing that the tomb would not lie completely within the confines of G51, we extended the square southward by 1.3 m into the area of the unopened G50 square. As we excavated this extension, an in situ burial (Individual 15) was discovered lying above the mud-brick vault (Figure 16). The burial consisted of an articulated lower body, from feet to pelvis, in an extended position and oriented NE-SW. The upper body was disturbed but still semi-articulated, as sections of vertebrae remained articulated, and the collapsed ribs were in their proper location relative to the rest of the body. A skull was positioned near the middle of the jumbled torso. Many fragments of a woven, wood coffin were preserved, some still tied together with rope. Large chunks of fabric were present above, between, and beneath the legs.

(Fig.16) Individual 15 in square G50
(Fig.16) Individual 15 in square G50

The tomb itself was not fully cleared until the final day of excavation. It was oriented roughly N-S. It consisted of a rectangular mud-brick chamber with a vaulted roof; the vault and the interior of the walls were plastered with mud to cover the lines of the bricks. The exterior of the walls was unplastered. The two long sides (0.8 m high x 2.3 m long) consisted of six brick courses, with a seventh, uppermost course made from irregularly-shaped limestone chunks embedded in mud plaster. Mud mortar was used between the brick courses. The north end of the tomb consisted of a wall of ten brick courses, measuring 1.1 m high. This wall bore the pressure of the vault, as the vault’s bricks were cantilevered towards the wall. The south end of the tomb was preserved to a height of seven brick courses (0.8 m high), though parts of the wall were damaged and missing. The southern end of the vault was damaged from being smashed open in antiquity; the interior of the tomb was filled to the top with sand. Limestone debris and mud-brick tumble was scattered on the surface of the sand filling the interior. The interior of the tomb was undecorated aside from the mud plaster on the walls, and the floor was sand rather than a paved or plastered surface. Nothing was preserved in place inside the tomb, though disarticulated bones, fragments of a wood coffin and a small fragment of gold leaf were found in the sandy interior deposit. The disarticulated bones likely represent more than one person, as two sternums were found; thus, it is possible that this tomb represents a double burial (Figures 17 and 18).
 
(Fig.17) Brick-vaulted tomb [11397] in G51, facing (from left to right), east, north and north-west
(Fig.17) Brick-vaulted tomb [11397] in G51, facing (from left to right), east, north and north-west

(Fig.18) Plan and elevations of tomb [11397]
(Fig.18) Plan and elevations of tomb [11397]

In reviewing the results of the excavation as a whole, the spatial patterning of the remains raises the question of whether we did not reach the bottom of the archaeological deposit in squares H–K by the end of the season. This is a difficult issue, for two reasons. First, excavation ceased in these squares a few days before the end of the season as no new remains had appeared for several days, and we needed to concentrate our efforts on documenting the already exposed burials in G51 and M51. With more time, we would have continued in H–K to ensure that we had reached the bottom of the deposit. On the other hand, the double burial in I51 and the single burial in K51 indicate that we did indeed reach Level IV in these two squares. Based on spot heights of these burials and the final spot heights taken for the squares at the end of the season, approximately a quarter of a metre of sand was removed after these in situ burials were found. It is also important to note that J51, though it had the densest concentration of Level III disturbed material, yielded absolutely no in situ material whatsoever. Given that most of the Level III material in J51 was found in the eastern half of the square, a provisional theory is that most of this material originated further upslope, in the area of L51 and M51, where there is a significant quantity of in situ burials. The disturbed remains could have been transplanted downslope by looting and erosional post-depositional processes. We would tentatively suggest, therefore, that the absence of burials in H51 and J51, as well as the low density in I51 and K51, illustrates the patterning of burials in this area of the cemetery rather than to the possibility that the end of the deposit was not reached. Nevertheless, this is an issue that can only be clarified by further work in adjacent areas.

Detailed descriptions of the excavated contexts

Lindsay Ambridge

Section 1. Unit index

Note that directional notations for in situ burials are in reference to magnetic north.

Unit 11276: J51
Surface level, 5m x 5m: gravely sand; subtle indication of water channel on surface.
 
Unit 11277: I51
Surface level, 5m x 5m: gravely sand; faint indication of water channel in NE corner; cluster of small rocks in SW quadrant.

Unit 11278: H51
Surface level, 5m x 5m: gravely sand; two isolated rocks on surface (one in NE corner, other near SW corner); pot sherd on surface in SW corner.
 
Unit 11279: G51
Surface level, 5m x 5m: gravely sand; edge of plateau in western half drops off into adjacent wadi; cluster of small rocks in SE corner.

Unit 11280: J51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11276: deposit of compacted sand (corresponding to water channel) runs diagonally across northern half of the square; loose, soft sand in southern half; two isolated rocks on surface; partially intact, upside-down vessel in NE quadrant; human pelvis fragment.
 
Unit 11281: I51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11277: deposit of compacted sand (corresponding to water channel) curves through centre of square and also in the NE corner; cluster of rocks and two gravel lenses in southern half of square, to west of water channel; eroded mud brick in NE corner and two mud-brick fragments adjacent to north grid line; several disarticulated bones in NW quadrant (forms part of a swath of disarticulated bones that were washed downslope and which continue into the eastern half of H51); faience beads present in this unit (ring, cylinder, and disc beads, as well as cornflower pendant).

Unit 11282: H51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11278: deposit of compacted sand in NW half of square, deposit of loose sand with fine white inclusions (stone and fossilized shells) in SE half; disarticulated bones (including pelvis fragment, collarbone and mandible fragment with some intact teeth) near east grid line.

Unit 11283: G51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11279: deposit of compacted sand corresponding to the water channel in eastern portion of the square; only eastern half excavated as western half drops off downslope, and removal of the wind-blown sand in the west would destabilize the deposits in the eastern half; no significant small finds.

Unit 11284: J51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11280: arbitrary unit created to maintain stratigraphic control; gravely sand; disarticulated bones and three skulls in eastern half of the square (Units 11290-92, 11300).

Unit 11285: I51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11281: arbitrary unit created to maintain stratigraphic control; gravely sand; spread of disarticulated bones along west grid line (Unit 11288); skull fragment in NE quadrant (Unit 11301); isolated long bone in centre of square; rock clusters throughout square; two scatters of disarticulated bones in eastern half of square.

Unit 11286: H51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11282: arbitrary unit created to maintain stratigraphic control; loose, gravely sand; featureless.

Unit 11287: G51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11283: arbitrary unit created to maintain stratigraphic control; loose, soft sand; excavated only eastern half to prevent collapse of ridge in western half; bone scatter in east-central portion of square (Unit 11293); isolated skull in NE quadrant (Unit 11294); cluster of disarticulated bones and mass of brown fibrous material in SE corner, straddling H51 grid line (Unit 11295); isolated mud brick in centre of square.

Unit 11288: I51
Bone and rock scatter along west grid line; includes long bones, 4 vertebrae, rib, and skull (Unit 11343) with intact teeth; brown debris in vicinity of skull and packed inside skull cavity; curly hair attached to back of skull; face pointing SW and top of head oriented to the NW.

Unit 11289: M51
Surface level, 5m x 5m: loose sand covered in flakes of marine limestone; water channel running W-E across centre of square; circular, shallow depression south of water channel; scattered pot sherds on surface.

Unit 11290: J51
Isolated skull in eastern portion of square, lying on right side, face points NE and top of head oriented to the SE; badly preserved – skull appears to have been bisected down the line of symmetry, as if once exposed and eroded, leaving a cross-section. Brown organic(?) debris inside skull cavity; several vertebrae articulated at base of skull, indicating that it cannot be very far removed from its original depositional location.

Unit 11291: J51
Bone scatter near SE corner; associated brown organic debris.

Unit 11292: J51
Isolated skull in SE quadrant; face down, with top of the head oriented N; associated brown organic debris; hair(?) attached to top of skull.

Unit 11293: G51
Bone scatter in east-central portion of square; includes two long bones and several ribs.

Unit 11294: G51
Isolated skull in NE quadrant; partially face down, face pointing SW and top of head oriented SE; very well preserved with most teeth and nasal bones intact; mass of plaited hair pressed against base of skull; three rocks bracket the skull to the west.

Unit 11295: G51
Bone cluster in SE corner, straddling H51 grid line and continuing into south baulk; includes lower mandible (molars and incisors intact) with brown organic material accumulated in cavity; several disarticulated vertebrae; long bones; several ribs; two collarbones; large quantity of brown fibrous material beneath bone cluster (perhaps matting?); faience ring beads associated with bones.

Unit 11296: L51
Surface level, 5m x 5m; loose sand covered with flakes of marine limestone; water channel running NW-SE through NE corner; pot sherd on surface in SW corner.

Unit 11297: G51
Skull fragment with associated bone scatter in NE quadrant; skull fragment comprises part of the upper mandible with two molars intact and part of an eye socket.

Unit 11298: K51
Surface level, 5m x 5m: gravely sand with some flakes of marine limestone; water channel in southern half of square, running NW-SE.

Unit 11299: M51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11289: loose sand with swath of compacted sand in northern half (corresponding to water channel); storage(?) vessel in SW corner.

Unit 11300: J51
Isolated skull in SE quadrant; lying on right side, face points NW, top of head oriented NE; very well preserved, with molars and nasal bones intact.

Unit 11301: I51
Skull fragment in NE quadrant.

Unit 11302: L51
5m x 5m; beneath Unit 11296: loose sand deposit.

Unit 11303: K51
5m x 5m; lies beneath Unit 11298: loose sand deposit.

Unit 11304: I51
Bone scatter in NE corner, comprising 1 femur, 1 vertebra, 2 ribs, pelvis, 2 metacarpals or phalanges, and associated brown organic debris; 2 small sherds adjacent to the pelvic bone.

Unit 11305: I51
Bone scatter along the E grid line, comprising 4 ribs, a long bone, pelvis fragment and 2 vertebrae; sherds closely associated and included in unit number.

Unit 11306/Individual 1: L51
Articulated individual near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Comprised articulated vertebrae, pelvis, rib cage, and femurs; body is face-down (but no articulated skull) and slopes head-downward towards the W grid line; above Units 11318, 11324, 11317 and 11328; body oriented NW-SE with top of body pointing NW.

Unit 11307: J51
Limestone stela (obj. 37640; see below) in centre of square, 2 mud bricks adjacent. Found lying flat on back.

Unit 11308: J51
Nearly intact vessel in the eastern half of the square; some brown organic debris inside, excavated with contents intact.

Unit 11309: L51
Bone cluster in NE quadrant; comprised articulated lower arm, a long bone, and large pieces of brown organic debris.

Unit 11310: L51
‘Skull 1’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Lies on left side and slightly upside-down, face points NW, top of head oriented SW; lies partially beneath an articulated foot (foot is part of Unit 11312).

Unit 11311: L51
‘Skull 2’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Lies face-down amidst disarticulated bones of Unit 11312.

Unit 11312/includes Individual 6: L51
Cluster of mostly disarticulated bones near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Includes several femurs and other long bones, articulated foot and tibia, vertebrae, pelvic bones, scapula, brown fibrous matting; large pottery fragments closely associated with deposit and given same unit number; Jerry Rose identified some of the disarticulated bones as those belonging to an adolescent individual (Individual 6).

Unit 11313: L51
‘Skull 3’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Skull is upside-down, face pointing NW; well preserved with molars intact.

Unit 11314: J51
Isolated skull in eastern half of square; lies on left side, face points W, top of head oriented S; skull perhaps belonged to child/adolescent, as the molars had not finished growing in at the time of death and cranial sutures are not fully knitted.

Unit 11315: J51
Fragment of braided hair located in the centre of the square; not in association with any other human remains.

Unit 11316: J51
Fragmented pot located 65 cm from S grid line and 250 cm from E grid line.

Unit 11317/Individual 4: L51
Articulated individual near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Comprised articulated vertebrae, rib cage, pelvis and left femur; lies face-down (but no articulated skull) and beneath Units 11306, 11318, and 11324, and adjacent to 11328; body oriented NW-SE with top of body pointing NW.

Unit 11318/Individual 2: L51
Articulated individual near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Comprised articulated vertebrae, pelvis and right femur; lies face-down (but no articulated skull), beneath Unit 11306 and above Units 11324, 11317 and 11328; body oriented NW-SE with top of body pointing NW; top edges of vertebrae and pelvis in poor condition; position of femur, jutting out at right angle from torso, indicates that this individual was disturbed and heaped onto a pile of bodies.

Unit 11319: L51
‘Skull 4’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Skull lies on left side, face points NE, top of head oriented NW and slopes downwards towards NW. Some molars intact.

Unit 11320: L51
‘Skull 5’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Surface of skull covered in matting; lying face-up, with face broken and collapsed into the skull cavity; top of head points SE; two molars intact.

Unit 11321: L51
‘Skull 6’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Positioned face-up amidst disarticulated bones of Unit 11312; top of head oriented N, some molars intact.

Unit 11322: I51
Weathered limestone stela (obj. 3581; see below) in SE quadrant; rectangular with pointed top, and rectangular niche carved into front side; found lying flat on back with rock fragment (basalt?) slightly overlapping pointed end; stela lay in gravely deposit.

Unit 11323: I51
Bone cluster in NE quadrant, along N grid line. Consists of femur, several ribs and vertebrae, finger or toe bones; fabric fragments amidst bones.

Unit 11324/Individual 3: L51
Articulated individual near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Comprised articulated vertebrae, rib cage, pelvis and right femur. Lies face-down (but no articulated skull), beneath Units 11306 and 11318, and above Units 11317 and 11328; body oriented NW-SE, with top of body pointing SE (change of 180 degrees from other bodies piled above and below).

Unit 11325: L51
‘Skull 7’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Skull lies on right side, face points NW, top of head oriented NE; positioned between Unit 11312 bone cluster and Unit 11324 articulated individual; well-preserved with incisors and molars intact; some black charring on right cheekbone.

Unit 11326: L51
Brown fibrous matting near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Matting is woven with knotted sections. Matting was folded and covered the surface of a femur in Unit 11312 bone cluster, ran over the top of ‘skull 8’ and up over the pelvis of Unit 11324. Matting continued beneath surface layer; it had been draped over femur and collected in a mass on NE side of femur, creating a 7-10 cm thick deposit of compacted fabric.

Unit 11327: L51
‘Skull 8’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Skull lies on right side, face points W and top of head oriented N.

Unit 11328/Individual 5: L51
Articulated individual near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Comprised articulated vertebrae, few ribs, pelvis and left femur. Body is face-down (but with no articulated skull), oriented NW-SE with top of body pointing NW. Beneath Units 11306,11318, 11324 and adjacent to 11317.

Unit 11329: L51
‘Skull 9’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Skull lies on left side, face points SE and top of head oriented NE; amidst bones of Unit 11312 cluster, and beneath Unit 11326 matting; skull is blackened from charring; some fabric attached to right surface of skull is also blackened, and matting attached to forehead is blackened. Matting at back of skull is unburnt and still brown.

Unit 11330: L51
‘Skull 10’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Surface of skull covered in woven matting that adhered to skull surface, including roof of the mouth; adjacent to ‘skull 5’ which is covered in same matting. Lies on its right side, facing W, top of head pointing N; 2 vertebrae still articulated with skull; incisors and molars intact; spread of organic debris to east of skull.

Unit 11331: L51
‘Skull 11’ near W grid line, part of deep deposit of articulated and disarticulated bones. Lies beneath spinal column of Unit 11328; includes a lower mandible with all incisors intact; lying on right side, facing NW, top of head oriented NE.

Unit 11332: M51
Disarticulated bone cluster in NW quadrant; comprised 2 arm bones, 1 vertebra, fragments of at least 6 ribs, and 1 collarbone. Possibly associated with Unit 11333 (an isolated skull located 34cm to the south).

Unit 11333: M51
Skull in NW quadrant, possibly associated with Unit 11332 bone cluster. Skull is slightly face-down, face points SW and top of head oriented NW, lying on right side. Skull fractured along sutures at front of head; molars and 1 incisor intact.

Unit 11334: L51
Bone scatter in the NE quadrant; consists of femur, sacrum, finger phalange, rib, long bone and associated brown organic debris.

Unit 11335: K51
Bone scatter in the NE corner; initially consisted of two pelvic bones, a long bone, and a fragment of preserved rope. After removing this first layer, found that scatter continued deeper and included femur with fabric still adhering, several fragments of disintegrating ribs, as well as several finger and/or toe bones.

Unit 11336: G51
Lens of gravely sand in NE quadrant; yielded only a small quantity of sherds, some very small fragments of mud brick, a few small bone fragments, and one complete bone (a long bone from an arm).

Unit 11337: G51
Isolated mud brick measuring 18cm x 36cm and positioned in the middle of the square.

Unit 11338: J51
Bone cluster in the SE quadrant, along the S grid line and continuing into the S baulk. Surface of cluster consisted of two articulated vertebrae, two disarticulated vertebrae, ribs in poor condition, two femurs and three more long bones. Beneath this first layer, cluster continued deeper and widened from 1 m to 1.7 m in width, and included nine more disarticulated vertebrae, a lower mandible, ten more long bones, pelvic bone, phalanges, and a semi-articulated portion of a torso, consisting of some very poorly preserved ribs and a pelvis. Fragments of fabric and matting amidst the bones, especially around and beneath long bones; matting of identical weave pattern to Unit 11326 matting, except with smaller spacing between knots. Another type of matting was revealed – plaited rather than knotted, continued deeper in layers, mixed with disarticulated bones (sacrum, ribs, vertebrae, long bones, kneecap) and one articulated foot. Bone cluster was very difficult to excavate, as it was located along the baulk with the most collapsed sand; profile of cluster can be seen in baulk and it is at least a 35 cm deep deposit of layers of matting separating jumbles of bones. Deposit likely represents several coherent individuals, each wrapped in matting, that were disturbed and mixed by robbing.

Unit 11339: J51
Bone cluster in E-central portion of square; consists of two bones (femur and tibia); located in deposit of loose sand mixed with concreted granules of sand – the hard granules were stuck to the surface of the bones as well.

Unit 11340: J51
Nearly intact conical vessel in SE quadrant; some brown organic debris clung to underside surface of the vessel.

Unit 11341/Individual 22: H51
Bone cluster in NW quadrant, measuring 47 cm wide and 70 cm long; surface of cluster consisted of twelve long bones, a lower mandible, several ribs, a scapula, sternum, skull (Unit 11342), and fragment of rope-like matting running over a femur and beneath a rib and long bone; one of the femurs had articulated knee and there was also an articulated fibula/tibia/foot. Femur/knee probably matches lower leg/foot, though they were not articulated in situ. Beneath this first layer of bones was an articulated pelvis with five vertebrae and sacrum (vertebrae pointing NW); also a group of collapsed ribs, but only from left side of body and not articulated with any vertebrae; another well-preserved fragment of rope beneath pelvis; bones still stained from decayed cartilage and therefore not exposed on ancient surface very long, though clearly disturbed at some point.

Unit 11342: H51
Skull, part of Unit 11341 cluster. Lying on left side, facing E, top of head oriented N. The back of the skull was slightly beneath the femur of 11341.

Unit 11343: I51
Skull, part of Unit 11288 bone scatter along west grid line; intact teeth; brown debris in vicinity of skull and packed inside skull cavity; curly hair attached to back of skull; face pointing SW and top of head oriented to the NW.

Unit 11344: J51
Isolated skull in the SW quadrant, along W grid line. Upside-down, facing SE; surface of skull very weathered, three molars intact, disarticulated lower mandible adjacent with four molars intact.

(Fig.19) Individuals 11 and 7, in squares I51 and I50
(Fig.19) Individuals 11 and 7, in squares I51 and I50

Unit 11345/Individual 7 (Figure 19): I51
In situ burial in the SE quadrant, crosses the S grid line and continues into I50; Individual 7 is directly adjacent to (and facing) Individual 11 (Unit 11371) as the two were likely buried in the same grave cut. Individual 7 consists of articulated legs and feet in extended position, lying on right side, right leg beneath the left leg, oriented roughly E-W, with feet pointing W and body facing N, top of head would have been pointing E. Fragments of collapsed matted coffin were in situ beneath, around and on top of legs, with some of reeds still tied together with fine rope; lower left leg shows some preserved skin; right foot and lower leg wrapped in fabric; leg and feet bones still stained from decayed flesh and cartilage; torso largely disturbed and disarticulated (jumbled torso is shared between Individuals 7 and 11); bones of torso more weathered than bones of lower body; jumble included ribs, vertebrae, scapula, arm, collarbone and phalanges. The intact fragments of the matted coffin continue up to the very point at which the torso becomes disturbed and jumbled – clearly the lower half of the coffin was not opened or disturbed when the top half of the individual was being rummaged.

(Fig.20) Individual 8 in square K51
(Fig.20) Individual 8 in square K51

Unit 11346/Individual 8 (Figure 20): K51
In situ burial in NE corner; lower legs articulated and wrapped in fabric, a few bones of the right foot present, but no fully articulated feet, and thus difficult to determine whether the individual was lying on its back or on its side; oriented roughlyE-W (feet would have been pointing E); fragments of collapsed matted coffin were around and beneath legs; right femur broken off just above the knee, and the rest of the body above this point is disturbed and disarticulated, and bones are in poor condition. Disarticulated bones include ribs, vertebrae, phalanges, lower mandible and two scapula; indicates robbing of an in situ burial, with lower body left undisturbed; brown staining surrounds lower legs, perhaps due to the decay of bodily fluids and tissue.

Unit 11347/Individual 9: G51
Bone cluster, in NE quadrant, disturbed but distinct individual. Tightly packed cluster of disarticulated bones with very little matting or organic debris associated, which indicates that the thorough rummaging had obliterated most traces of original matted coffins; a skull and disarticulated lower mandible were part of cluster (Unit 11372).

Unit 11348: I50
1 m x 1.8 m; surface and subsurface sandy deposit above in situ burial (Unit 11345); deposit excavated in order to reveal this burial.

Unit 11349: K51
5 m x 5 m; beneath Unit 11303: loose sand deposit; this level represents the level at which in situ burials first appeared (i.e. Unit 11346).

Unit 11350: J51
5 m x 5 m; beneath Unit 11284: loose sand deposit; this level represents the level at which in situ burials/coherent individuals (though disturbed – see Unit 11338) first appeared.

Unit 11366: I51
5 m x 5 m; beneath Unit 11285: loose sand deposit; this level represents level at which in situ burials first appeared (i.e. Unit 11345).

Unit 11367: H51
5 m x 5 m; beneath Unit 11286: loose sand deposit; this level represents level at which in situ material first appeared.

Unit 11368: G51
5 m x 5 m; beneath Unit 11287: loose sand deposit; this level represents level at which in situ burials/coherent individuals (though disturbed - see Unit 11347) first appeared.

Unit 11369: L51
Disarticulated bone scatter in N-central portion of square; includes scapula, pelvis, femur, ribs, vertebrae, and long bone with attached brown organic material; bones in very poor state of preservation; fragments of matted coffin in association.

Unit 11370/Individual 10: M51
Disarticulated bone cluster in NW quadrant; most bones are child-sized (long bones, vertebrae, phalanges, scapula, ribs, lower mandible with 4 molars) and belong to Individual 10, except a femur and sacrum that are both adult; fragments of fabric amidst bones.

Unit 11371/Individual 11 (Figure 19): I51
In situ burial in the SE quadrant, crosses the S grid line and continues into I50; Individual 11 is directly adjacent to (and facing) Individual 7 (Unit 11345) as the two were likely buried in the same grave cut. Individual 11 consists of articulated legs and feet in extended position, lying on left side, oriented roughlyE-W, with feet pointing W and body facing S, top of head would have been pointing E. Fragments of collapsed matted coffin were in situ beneath, around and on top of legs, with some of reeds still tied together with fine rope; leg and feet bones still stained from decayed flesh and cartilage; torso largely disturbed and disarticulated (jumbled torso is shared between Individuals 7 and 11); bones of torso more weathered than bones of lower body; jumble included ribs, vertebrae, scapula, arm, collarbone and phalanges. Because the matted coffin was collapsed, it was not possible to discern where the coffin of Individual 7 ended and the coffin of Individual 11 began, but it is likely that the two individuals were buried in separate coffins in the same grave, and the coffins have since collapsed into one undifferentiated mass.

Unit 11372: G51
Skull and lower mandible that were part of bone cluster comprising Individual 9 (Unit 11347); skull lying on its right side, top of head pointing N, facing W, teeth intact.

(Fig.21) Individual 12, in square L51
(Fig.21) Individual 12, in square L51

Unit 11373/Individual 12 (Figure 21): L51
In situ burial located along the S grid line. Consists of two legs articulated below the knee with articulated feet and a jumbled torso. Jumble includes skull (Unit 11374) and disarticulated lower mandible, femur, arm bones, scapula, and patches of hair. Body lies on right side, but slightly face-down; the feet point SE but kneecaps are face-down; body is orientedNW-SE, head would have been pointing NW. Legs are wrapped in fabric; fragments of matted coffin preserved, especially beneath the long bones; fabric and body tissue stuck to the coffin fragments beneath the bones.

Unit 11374: L51
Skull (part of Unit 11373 burial): lies on its left side, facingNW, top of head pointing SW; short hair adhering to skull surface, but with bald patch on top of head; molars and incisors intact.

Unit 11375: L51
Bone scatter in N-central portion of square. Includes vertebrae, sacrum, collarbone, semi-articulated foot, lower mandible with very worn teeth (Unit 11377), and fragments of braided hair(?) and brown organic material, possibly skin. Bones in very poor condition.

Unit 11376/Individual 13 (Figure 15): M51
In situ burial in SW quadrant. Rectangular wooden coffin orientedNW-SE. Fragments of white plaster on exterior ends of coffin, and orange discoloration along interior and exterior sides suggests presence of ochre pigment. Coffin dimensions: length = 134 cm, width of coffin wall = 2.5–3cm, exterior width of coffin = 30 cm, interior width of coffin = 25 cm, depth at N end = 18 cm, depth at S end = 24 cm. Articulated lower body in S end of coffin; feet, legs, and pelvis, sloping downward towards the N. Body is face-down. Knees are bent such that the feet are propped up on the bottom edge of the coffin. Bones unfused, individual approximately 12–13 years old (according to J.Rose). Skull (Unit 11384) also present in S end of coffin. In N end of coffin, upper body is jumbled, some vertebrae, ribs, two articulated arms, part of one hand, and a scapula present, all in extremely poor condition. These bones in the N end of the coffin suffered water damage due to rain the previous night (though coffin was covered with mat). No lid with coffin, though some collapsed wood fragments inside may have been part of lid; no discernible grave cut. Artifacts located outside the coffin are designated Unit 11386.

Unit 11377: L51
Lower mandible; part of Unit 11375 bone scatter. Very worn teeth. No skull present.

Unit 11378: H51
Bone cluster: articulated lower leg and foot. Bones stained orange-brown from decayed cartilage and flesh.

Unit 11379: J51
Isolated lower mandible with teeth intact. Suffered slight water damage from recent rain.

Unit 11380: M51
5 m x 5 m, beneath Unit 11299: loose sand deposit; this level represents level at which in situ burials appeared.

Unit 11381: L51
5 m x 5 m, beneath Unit 11302: loose sand deposit; this level represent level at which in situ burials appeared.

Unit 11382: H51
Bone cluster in NW quadrant: tibia, pelvis, phalange and skull (Unit 11383).

Unit 11383: H51
Skull, part of Unit 11382 bone cluster in NW quadrant. Skull lying on its right side, facing E, top of the head oriented S. Some molars intact; left side of skull slightly water damaged from recent rain.

Unit 11384: M51
Skull belonging to Individual 13 and part of Unit 11376 in situ burial. One vertebra articulated with skull and molars intact.

Unit 11385: G50
Extension southward of G51, to reveal mud brick construction. Extension measures 1.3 m x 5 m.

Unit 11386: M51
Artifacts associated with Unit 11376 in situ burial, located adjacent to the rectangular wooden coffin. Consists of vertebra, arm bone, and an intact pot that was positioned next to the NE corner of the coffin. Five nuts or seeds recovered from inside pot.

Unit 11387/Individual 14: L51, disturbed and partially disarticulated burial in NW quadrant, oriented NE-SW. Consists of femur articulated with a pelvic bone; an articulated lower arm and hand (displaced and beneath femur); an articulated foot (also displaced from its original position); fragments of braided hair; fabric fragments; and a tibia that used to be articulated with the femur but which was removed as part of the general unit number for the square before this cluster was recognized as a burial. Large quantity of fragments of wood matted coffin, several pieces still tied together with rope; most of bones in very poor condition, some damaged by recent rain. Body so disturbed that original alignment is indicated by coffin fragments only.

Unit 11388: M51
Skull along the S baulk, one associated vertebra and a humerus extending into the baulk. Skull lying on its right side, facing N and slightly downward, top of head pointing E. Lower mandible articulated, with teeth intact. Left side of the skull is badly weathered and punctured with hole; short hair adheres to intact surfaces of skull, and right side had skin still attached.

Unit 11389/Individual 17: L51/M51/M52
In situ burial in NE corner of L51, NW corner of M51 and in M52 sondage. Body is extended, lying on right side, oriented NW-SE, head would have been pointing NW. Burial comprised articulated legs and feet, including femurs articulated with a pelvis; matted reed coffin covered most of the area of the legs; two articulated arms and hands; left arm rests on top of torso and left hand sits on top of the pelvis; right hand curves around the side of the pelvis. Also three skulls (Units 11390, 11391 and 11399) associated with burial – 11390 and 11391 lay adjacent to feet, and 11399 lay directly atop the articulated left arm. Scarab bead (Unit 11401) found in associated with burial, located in sandy matrix near articulated lower legs.

Unit 11390: L51
Skull, part of Unit 11389 burial. Sitting upright, facing N, with molars and incisors intact; fragments of short hair adhering to skull.

Unit 11391: L51
Skull, part of Unit 11389 burial. Lying on left side, facing SW, lower mandible articulated, teeth intact, and the entire skull covered in braided hair. Braids extended down back of skull in a kind of ponytail. After skull was removed, bulk of hair became detached in a single curved unit.

Unit 11392/Individual 15 (Figure 16): G50
In situ burial, lying above mud-brick vault. Consists of individual with articulated lower body, from pelvis to feet, but the feet were collected earlier by workmen and bagged with general unit number for square (Unit 11368). Upper body disturbed but still semi-articulated; sections of vertebrae remain articulated, and the ribs are collapsed but still in their proper location relative to the rest of the body. Legs are extended, body is face-up, oriented NE-SW, feet pointing SW. Arms and scapula jumbled; skull (Unit 11393) not in original location, positioned instead near middle of torso. Leg bones still stained orange-brown from decayed flesh and cartilage. Wood fragments from matted coffin preserved in abundance, many still tied together with rope. Large chunks of fabric present, particularly on top, between and beneath the legs.

Unit 11393: G50
Skull, part of Unit 11392 burial/Individual 15. Skull sitting upright, facing E, with fragments of short hair adhering to skull surface.

Unit 11394: M52
Sondage opened north of M51 in order to reveal an in situ burial (Unit 11389). M52 deposit contained bone cluster of mostly disarticulated remains (designated Unit 11395).

Unit 11395: M52
Disarticulated bone cluster consisting of pelvis, ribs, lower mandible, femur, two scapula, collarbones, two groups of articulated vertebrae and several more disarticulated vertebrae, arm bones, and another femur embedded in the baulk. Cluster sits directly above Unit 11389 (in situ burial) and is also associated with three skulls (Units 11390, 11391, and 11399).

Unit 11396: N51
Sondage opened east of M51 in order to reveal an in situ burial (Unit 11403: see Figure 10). N51 deposit contained a disarticulated bone cluster that was removed as part of the 11396 unit number. Cluster had no associated matting or organic debris; bones bleached from exposure on ancient surface.

Unit 11397: G50/G51
Mud-brick vaulted tomb, oriented roughly N-S (according to magnetic north). Rectangular mud-brick construction with vaulted roof ; vault and interior of the walls were plastered with mud to cover the lines of the bricks. Exterior of the walls was unplastered. The two long sides (0.8 m high x 2.3 m long) consisted of six brick courses, with a seventh, uppermost, course comprising irregularly-shaped limestone chunks embedded in mud plaster. Mud mortar used between the brick courses. North end of tomb consisted of a wall of ten brick courses, measuring 1.1 m high. This wall bore the pressure of the vault, as vault’s bricks were cantilevered towards the wall. South end of tomb preserved to height of seven brick courses (0.8 m high); parts of the wall are damaged and missing. Southern end of vault was damaged from being smashed open in antiquity; the interior of the tomb was filled to the top with sand. Limestone debris and mud-brick tumble scattered on surface of the sand filling the interior. Tumble must have occurred post-robbing, since the tomb had already filled with sand. Possibly, secondary damage occurred as result of the pressure from the sand accumulating over the top of the vault. Interior of tomb undecorated aside from mud plaster on walls; floor was sand. Nothing preserved in situ inside tomb, though disarticulated bones, fragments of a wood coffin and a small fragment of gold leaf were found in the sandy interior deposit. The bones were designated Individual 21 (Unit 11409), though they likely represent more than one person as two sternums were found. Possibly this tomb represents a double burial.

Unit 11398: G50/G51
Limestone and mud brick tumble at west end of vaulted tomb (Unit 11397).

Unit 11399: M52
Skull associated with Unit 11389 (in situ burial) and Unit 11395 (bone cluster). Skull located directly above articulated arm of 11389 and amongst bones of 11395. Lying on its left side, facing SW, top of head pointing SE. Covered in intact, curly black hair; lower mandible articulated with incisors and molars intact.

Unit 11400: G50/G51
Flakes of gold leaf and three small fragments of plastered wood found in association with vaulted, mud-brick tomb (Unit 11397).

Unit 11401: M51/M52
Scarab bead (obj. 37630) associated with an in situ burial (Unit 11389), located in the sandy matrix near the articulated lower legs. Faience, with incised beetle on top and incised decoration on base.

Unit 11402: G50
Denotes sandy deposit covering entirety of G50; level associated with the mud-brick vaulted tomb in G50/G51 (Unit 11397).

Unit 11403/Individual 16 (Figure 10): M51/N51
In situ burial consisting of two articulated lower legs and feet, which were completely covered in a collapsed coffin of matted strips of wood. One kneecap was in situ; neither femurs were present. The matting was disturbed directly above the kneecap, and there was a void in the area where upper legs and abdomen should have been – area is devoid of bones and only bottom of matted coffin is present. Bottom and sides of coffin continue in situ up to the top of the body, where the only remainder of the disturbed torso is one articulated arm, a disarticulated hand, sternum and half of a collapsed rib cage. Based on the position of the lower legs and feet, the body was lying on its left side, extended, oriented NE-SW, feet pointing SW. Leg bones still stained orange-brown from decayed cartilage and flesh, and were covered in skin(?) and bits of fabric.

Unit 11404/Individual 18 (Figure 13): M51
In situ burial, oriented NE-SW; badly robbed, only disarticulated feet, two vertebrae, and a kneecap remain of the individual. Matted coffin consisting of wooden strips remained in situ at the NE end of the burial, though it was reduced to charred ashy remains at the SW end. Nonetheless, the outline of the coffin was discernible.

(Fig.22) Individual 19, in square L51
(Fig.22) Individual 19, in square L51

Unit 11405/Individual 19 (Figure 22): L51
In situ burial; thoroughly robbed; matted coffin of wooden strips is in situ, but little remains of the body (scapula, kneecap, phalanges, fragments of braided hair and fabric). Burial oriented NE-SW. Scarab bead associated.

Unit 11406: L51
Faience scarab bead from sandy matrix of burial (11405). Incised inscription on base includes cartouche of Menkheperre (obj. 37637; see below).

Unit 11407/Individual 20 (Figure 14): M51
In situ burial in NE quadrant. Articulated lower legs with kneecaps, feet missing, no femurs. Legs covered in fabric; fragments of matted reed coffin were in situ. Bones in poor condition. Burial disappeared into E baulk, no time to extend square in order to uncover torso.

Unit 11408: G51
Interior contents of vaulted mud brick tomb (11397); includes fragments of wood (coffin?) and one fragment of gold leaf.

Unit 11409/Individual 21: G51
Disarticulated bones from interior of vaulted mud-brick tomb (11397); bones likely represent more than one individual since two sternums were found; tomb possibly represents double burial.

Section 2. Summaries of excavation squares

Note: The seven squares comprising the 2006 excavation of the South Cemetery were not oriented to magnetic north; rather, they were oriented to the local topography such that the wadi bisecting the cemetery formed a baseline from which the squares proceeded upslope. Thus, the line of the wadi became our north-south axis. All directional notations in this report, with the exception of those for in situ burials, are in reference to this ‘site north’, rather than magnetic north.

 

J51

J51 was the easternmost of the initial four squares (G51, H51, I51 and J51) that were opened on March 4th, 2006. An additional three squares (K51, L51, and M51) were opened on March 8th, extending eastward and upslope from J51, placing this square at the midpoint of our 35 m x 5 m total exposure. J51 measured 5 m x 5 m. At the surface level (the opening general unit, designated 11276), this square enclosed one of the branches of a system of runnels passing downslope towards the wadi bed (cf. surface top plan). The presence of the runnel was indicated by a shallow depression running from the SE downslope towards the NW, measuring 4.5 m across at its widest point. The composition of the surface deposit was gravely sand; the gravely inclusions were primarily marine limestone.

A single trowel spit revealed a loose sand deposit with a swathe of harder, more compacted, smooth sand. This swathe corresponded to the position of the runnel that was visible on the surface; it suggests that water flowing downslope had moistened a stretch of sand that had dried out and was subsequently covered in a deposit of wind-blown sand. The exposure of this deposit occasioned a change in the general unit (11280). The excavation of this unit was executed in two trowel spits, during which the distinction between the loose sand deposit and the compacted sand deposit was clearly visible. Unit 11280 yielded one partially intact vessel and a single human bone fragment (pelvis). Two isolated rocks were present on the surface at the completion of this unit.

The removal of the swathe of compacted sand gradually revealed a uniform deposit, across the square, of loose sand with fine limestone inclusions. We decided to change the general unit (11284), creating an arbitrary stratigraphic division in order to maintain stratigraphic control in an area which did not lend itself to natural divisions. We simultaneously changed general units in the other three squares, such that the total 20 m exposure reflected this stratigraphic division. Based on five spot heights recorded at the opening of 11284 and another five at the closing of this same unit, the average depth of the sand removed across 11284 is 29.2 cm. Unit 11284 remained the overall unit number of the square until in situ burials were found; therefore, this unit designates the wider context of all of the disturbed material that could not, when excavated, be associated with an in situ burial deposit or coherent individual. It is important to note here that the difference between an in situ burial deposit and a bone cluster (which may comprise a single coherent individual and include some articulated components) is the degree of disruption of the remains and the certainty with which the deposit can be said to be in its original depositional location. If the original attitude and orientation of the body can be discerned (as in the case of fully articulated legs), then the remains are considered an in situ burial deposit. If the bones are so disturbed and disarticulated (even if some components within the jumble are still articulated) such that the original position of the body is impossible to determine and its original depositional location is uncertain, then the remains are considered a bone cluster.

A summary of the Unit 11284 disturbed material is as follows:

• Five isolated skulls, without any directly associated bones. Four of the skulls were located in the eastern half of the square. Two of the skulls showed evidence of severe weathering due to exposure on the ancient surface, yet also provided evidence indicating that they had not been displaced very far from their original depositional location: one of the skulls was still articulated with several of the cervical vertebrae, and a lower mandible was disarticulated from, but positioned directly adjacent to, the second weathered skull. Additionally, a third skull still had patches of hair adhering to the surface.

• Three bone clusters, all located in the eastern half of the square. One was a significant deposit of stratified human remains, measuring 35 cm in depth (located in and along the south baulk, in the deepest part of the square). This cluster (11338) was the first indication, in J51, of the nature of the in situ burials that were to follow. The mix of disarticulated and articulated bones was separated by layers of matting and fabric which clearly underlay the long bones, indicating that several individuals were probably contained within this one deposit, having been disturbed and mixed by robbing in antiquity. Though the deposit contained some wholly articulated appendages (e.g. an articulated foot), other bones showed evidence of exposure/weathering and disruption on the ancient surface.

• Limestone stela (11307) found in the centre of the square, with two mud bricks adjacent (discussed below).

• Three nearly intact ceramic vessels and clump of braided hair, each found in isolation.

Unit 11284 came to an end when in situ burials (or, in some cases, clusters of disturbed bones that represented coherent individuals) began to appear in the squares bracketing J51. Though an in situ deposit had not yet been revealed in J51 itself, the stratified bone cluster (11338) indicated that the nature of the bone deposits was changing, from scatters of disarticulated bones to more coherent and recognizable individuals. Therefore, a new general unit was initiated (11350), corresponding to the level of in situ burials as demonstrated in adjacent squares and as anticipated for J51.

Contrary to expectations, J51 proved to be devoid of in situ burials. In fact, Unit 11350 did not contain significant deposits of any kind, with the exception of a single isolated lower mandible with intact teeth (11379), found in the eastern half of the square. Excavation ceased in J51 on April 1st, as it formed part of the strip – comprising four squares, H51–K51 – from which few in situ remains had emerged. This stretch of squares was, in fact, the least dense in archaeological material at all levels of the site. Of this four-square strip, J51 produced the fewest remains at the level of in situ burials (i.e. Unit 11350); interestingly, however, at the level of disturbed material (Unit 11384), J51 produced the most remains of these four squares.

I51

I51, one of the initial four squares opened on March 4th, 2006, was bracketed on the east by J51 and on the west by H51. I51 measured 5m x 5m. At the surface level (the opening general unit, designated 11277), the NE corner of the square contained a portion of the same runnel passing through J51 and described above. Running from the SE downslope towards the wadi bed in the NW, the runnel was indicated on the surface, as in J51, by a shallow depression measuring 2.7m across at its widest point. Also present on the surface was a cluster of three limestone rocks in the SW quadrant, and an isolated limestone rock in the centre of the square. The composition of the surface deposit was gravely sand; the gravely inclusions were primarily marine limestone.

As with J51, a trowel spit revealed swathes of compacted, smooth sand amidst an otherwise loose and gravely sand deposit. One swathe, in the NE corner, corresponded to the position of the runnel that was visible on the surface, suggesting the same depositional activity as that described for the runnel in J51. An additional swathe of compacted sand curved through the centre of the square – a feature that was not visible on the surface. Two lenses of gravel, comprised of limestone flakes, were also revealed by the first trowel spit – one lens stretching between two rocks in the SW quadrant, and the second lens along the southern edge of the swathe of compacted sand in the centre of the square (cf. Unit 11281 top plan). Upon exposure of these features, the general unit was changed to 11281. The unit was excavated in two trowel spits, during which three interesting features emerged. First, an eroded and fragmentary mud brick appeared in the NE corner, as well as two more mud brick fragments along the N grid line. Later in the season we discovered a mud brick tomb in the westernmost square (G51, closest to the wadi bed); thus, the presence of mud brick fragments further upslope may be significant. Secondly, a scatter of disarticulated bones was collected from the NW quadrant (labelled as part of the general unit, 11281). The scatter corresponded roughly to the swathe of compacted sand; taken in consideration with a scatter of bones from the eastern half of the adjacent H51, it is possible that these loose bones were washed downslope and deposited in the NW quadrant of I51 and the eastern half of H51. Thirdly, some faience beads were recovered from the sieving for this unit: two flat beads, nine ring beads, two cylinder beads, and one cornflower pendant. The loose rocks and gravel lenses were removed during these two trowel spits, leaving a uniform deposit of loose, gravely sand.

As with J51, H51 and G51, we changed the general unit (11285), creating an arbitrary stratigraphic division. Unit 11285 remained the overall unit number of the square until in situ burials were found; therefore, this unit designates the wider context of all of the disturbed material that could not, when excavated, be associated with an in situ burial deposit or coherent individual. Based on spot heights recorded at the opening and closing of 11285, the average depth of the sand removed across 11285 is 22.8 cm.

A summary of the Unit 11285 disturbed material is as follows:

• One skull, part of a bone cluster in the western half of the square; some curly hair was still adhering to the surface of the skull. There was also one skull fragment in the NE quadrant.

• Four bone clusters, one in the western half of the square and three in the NE quadrant.

• One rectangular limestone stela with a pointed top (11322; obj. 37581), found in the SE quadrant. The stela bears no inscriptions or pictorial decoration, though a shallow rectangular niche is carved on one side. The surfaces of the stela are weathered and somewhat eroded.

While excavating Unit 11285, we uncovered the top of an in situ burial – the first that had appeared in the excavation as a whole, though another in situ burial came to light shortly thereafter in K51. This discovery instigated a change in the general unit (11366), corresponding to the level of in situ burials.

The I51 burial was identified as such based on the presence of fully articulated and undisturbed lower legs. The rest of the body, however, lay beneath the south baulk. Further investigation of the burial required that we open a small sondage (11348), measuring 1 m x 1.8 m, to the south of I51 (and thus within the boundaries of the unopened square I50). When the full extent of the burial had been revealed, we discovered that it actually consisted of two individuals facing each other, both in extended positions (Unit 11345/Individual 7 and Unit 11371/Individual 11). Individual 7 lay on its right side, oriented E-W, with its feet pointing W. The lower legs were intact, the femurs were missing, and the torso was completely jumbled and disturbed. The jumbled torso contained bones presumably belonging to both individuals, as there was no spatial distinction within the jumble that would have allowed the bones to be assigned to one individual or the other. Fragments of a collapsed, matted reed coffin were found in situ beneath, around, and on top of the articulated lower legs. The intact coffin fragments reach the very point at which the body becomes disturbed, suggesting that the lower half of the coffin was not opened or disturbed at all when the top half of the individual was being rummaged. The second body, Individual 11, lay on its left side, oriented E-W with its feet pointing W. As with Individual 7, its lower legs and feet were articulated and in situ, with fragments of matted coffin surrounding them. Because the matted coffin was collapsed, it was impossible to distinguish the exact boundary where Individual 7’s coffin ended and Individual 11’s began. It is probable that the two individuals were buried in separate coffins in the same grave cut, though grave cuts were not discernible in the loose sand deposit.

This double burial constituted the only in situ remains to be found in Unit 11366 of I51. In fact, no other features at all emerged in this unit. As with J51, excavation ceased in I51 on April 1st.

H51

One of the initial four squares opened on March 4th, 2006, H51 was bracketed on the east by I51 and on the west by G51. H51 measured 5 m x 5 m. Unlike J51 and I51, the surface level of H51 (the opening general unit, 11278), consisted of a uniform deposit of gravely sand, without interruption by runnels. The gravely sand was of the same nature as that in the adjacent squares; the inclusions were primarily marine limestone. Two isolated rocks (one in the NE quadrant and one in the SW quadrant) were present on the surface, as well as a pot sherd in the SW corner. As with the previous two squares, a single trowel spit revealed a swathe of compacted, smooth sand amidst an otherwise loose and gravely sand deposit. The deposit of compacted sand covered roughly half of the square, stretching diagonally from the NE quadrant downslope to the SW quadrant. It corresponded neither to a visible runnel on the surface nor to the compacted sand deposit cutting through the centre of the adjacent square I51. Rather, it appears to be a continuation of a deposit that occurs further north of our excavated 35 m x 5 m strip (cf. Unit 11282 top plan). In addition to this compacted deposit, a small cluster of rocks emerged in the NE corner. We initiated a new general unit (11282), which was excavated in two trowel spits. The rock cluster in the NE corner was removed, as it lay above the compacted sand deposit and had no associated features. A scatter of disarticulated human bones, which included a jaw fragment with few intact teeth, was removed from along the east grid line and labelled as part of the general unit number (11282). After the completion of two trowel spits, the deposit was uniformly loose, soft sand.

As with J51, I51 and G51, at this point we established a new general unit (11286), reflecting an arbitrary stratigraphic division. Based on spot heights recorded at the opening and closing of the unit, the average depth of the sand removed across 11286 is 26.6 cm. Unit 11286 was meant to designate the wider context of all of the disturbed material that could not be associated with an in situ burial deposit or coherent individual; however, no disturbed material was found in this unit. Of the four initial squares, this was the only square devoid of disturbed material at this level. It must be noted, however, that a bone cluster (11341) was originally excavated as part of this level, but the cluster was later recognized to likely represent a single coherent individual and therefore should have instigated a change in the general unit number in the field. The cluster was retrospectively re-assigned to general Unit 11367 on the composite top plans, as it occurred very close to the bottom of general Unit 11286 (and just one day before our change to Unit 11367) and therefore could be re-assigned without disrupting the analytical framework of our level system.

Though the aforementioned cluster did not initiate a change in units as it should have done, the unit change did occur shortly thereafter due to changes in the surrounding squares. We established general Unit 11367 to reflect the level of in situ material. The material recovered from 11367 consists of three bone clusters and two skulls, each skull belonging to one of the clusters. There were no articulated, in situ burials of the same kind found in other squares, though two of the three clusters contained articulated components and one cluster was designated as representing an individual, though a very disturbed one. Cluster 11341/Individual 22, in the NW quadrant, was the most significant of the three clusters, as it comprised a large quantity of material and included both articulated and disarticulated bones. The surface of the cluster consisted of twelve long bones (including an articulated lower leg and foot), lower mandible, several ribs, scapula, sternum, skull (11342) and a fragment of rope. Beneath this first layer of bones was an articulated pelvis with five vertebrae and a sacrum, as well as group of collapsed ribs from the left side of a body and not articulated with any vertebrae. Though these bones were clearly very disturbed from robbing, they still exhibited the brown-orange discoloration from decayed flesh and cartilage, rather than a bleached appearance, indicating that they were not exposed for long on the ancient surface. This deposit was not considered to be an in situ burial because there were no fragments of matting or coffin present to indicate that the cluster was in its original burial location, and the original orientation and attitude of the body could not be discerned.

G51

Opened on March 5th, 2006, G51 was bracketed on the east by H51 and on the west by the slope leading down to the wadi bed; thus, this square was the westernmost of our 35 m strip. Square G51 measured 5 m x 5m. In the western half of the square, the ground sloped steeply down towards the wadi bed. The surface level (the opening general unit, 11279), consisted of a uniform deposit of gravely sand, without interruption by runnels. The gravely sand was of the same nature as that in the adjacent squares; the inclusions were primarily marine limestone. A cluster of small rocks was located in the SE corner. A scatter of loose mud bricks and rock debris was positioned further downslope, outside the boundaries of the square. A single trowel spit revealed an area of compacted, smooth sand amidst an otherwise loose and gravely sand deposit. The deposit of compacted sand occurred in the eastern half of the square and was a continuation of the compacted deposit in H51 (cf. Unit 11283 top plan). Additionally, a small cluster of rocks lay in the SE quadrant. We initiated a new general unit (11283), but worked only in the eastern portion of the square, gradually lowering the slope in the western half by peeling off layers in the east. Unit 11283 was excavated in two trowel spits, yielding a deposit of loose, soft sand and no significant small finds.

As with the three previous squares, we initiated a new general unit (11287), reflecting an arbitrary stratigraphic division. Based on spot heights recorded at the opening and closing of the unit, the average depth of the sand removed across 11287 is 21 cm. Unit 11287 corresponds to the wider context of all of the disturbed material that could not be associated with an in situ burial deposit or a coherent individual. A summary of the 11287 disturbed material is as follows:

• Three bone clusters in the eastern half of the square; one had an associated skull fragment (11297) and another was a substantial deposit (11295) containing a lower mandible with intact teeth, fragments of matting, and several tiny faience ring beads.

• One isolated skull (11294) with most teeth intact and plaited hair adhering to the base of the skull.

• A gravel lens in the NE quadrant, which yielded only a small quantity of sherds and small fragments of mud brick, some bone fragments and one complete long bone.

• One isolated mud brick, measuring 18 cm x 36 cm, in the middle of the square.

We closed general Unit 11287 and opened general Unit 11368 when we uncovered a bone cluster that represented a disturbed but distinct individual (11347/Individual 9). Located in the NE quadrant, this tightly packed cluster of bones included a skull and lower mandible (11372). Very little matting or organic debris was associated, suggesting that the thorough rummaging in antiquity had obliterated most traces of the coffin and fabric wrapping.

Towards the end of the season, a row of aligned mud bricks appeared in the southern half of the square. These bricks were revealed to be the back wall of a vaulted brick tomb running along the south grid line. The excavation of this tomb and its associated features became the focus of the work in this square for the remainder of the season. Recognizing that the tomb would not lie completely within the confines of G51, we extended the square southward by 1.3 m into the area of the unopened G50 square. As we excavated this extension, an in situ burial (11392/Individual 15) was discovered lying above the mud-brick vault. The burial consisted of an articulated lower body, from feet to pelvis, in an extended position and oriented NE–SW, with feet pointing towards the SW. The upper body was disturbed but still semi-articulated, as sections of vertebrae remained articulated, and the collapsed ribs were in their proper location relative to the rest of the body. A skull (11393) was positioned near the middle of the jumbled torso. Many fragments of a matted wood coffin were preserved in situ, some still tied together with rope. Large chunks of fabric were present above, between, and beneath the legs.

The tomb itself was not fully cleared until the final day of our excavation. The tomb was oriented roughly N–S (according to magnetic north). It consisted of a rectangular mud-brick construction with a vaulted roof; the vault and the interior of the walls were plastered with mud to cover the lines of the bricks. The exterior of the walls was unplastered. The two long sides (0.8 m high x 2.3 m long) consisted of six brick courses, with a seventh, uppermost, course comprising irregularly-shaped limestone chunks embedded in mud plaster. A mud mortar was used between the brick courses. The north end of the tomb consisted of a wall of ten brick courses, measuring 1.1 m high. This wall bore the pressure of the vault, as the vault’s bricks were cantilevered towards the wall. The south end of the tomb is preserved to a height of seven brick courses (0.8 m high), though parts of the wall are damaged and missing. The southern end of the vault was damaged from being smashed open in antiquity; the interior of the tomb was filled to the top with sand. Limestone debris and mud brick tumble was scattered on the surface of the sand filling the interior. Therefore, the tumble must have occurred post-robbing, since the tomb had already filled with sand. Possibly, this secondary damage occurred as a result of the pressure from the sand accumulating over the top of the vault. The interior of the tomb was undecorated aside from the mud plaster on the walls, and the floor was sand rather than a paved or plastered surface. Nothing was preserved in situ inside the tomb, though disarticulated bones, fragments of a wood coffin and a small fragment of gold leaf were found in the sandy interior deposit. The bones were designated Individual 21 (Unit 11409), though they likely represent more than one person as two sternums were found. Possibly this tomb represents a double burial.

M51

On March 8th, 2006, we extended our area of excavation 15 m upslope, creating an additional three squares (K51, L51, M51) to the east of our initial four squares. Square M51 was the easternmost of our squares, bracketed on the west by L51 and measuring 5 m x 5 m. The surface level (opening Unit 11289) was gravely sand with marine limestone inclusions. A runnel cut across the centre of the square, E–W, measuring 2.5 m at its widest point. To the south of this runnel lay a shallow, circular depression containing a large vessel fragment. After two trowel spits, a deposit of compacted sand ran SE–NW though the centre of the square, corresponding roughly to the position of the runnel on the surface. A fragmented vessel was revealed in the SW corner. We changed units, opening 11299.

We removed the compacted sand deposit and revealed a uniformly loose, soft sand deposit. We did not, however, establish a new, arbitrary stratigraphic division, as we did with the four initial squares. 11299 remained the general unit for the zone of disturbed material; thus, whereas the finds in G51–J51 were excavated in four general units, or levels, the finds in K51–M51 were excavated in three general units. A summary of the disturbed material from 11299 is as follows:

• Two disarticulated bones clusters, both in the NW quadrant. One of the clusters (11370) represents a child, Individual 10, though it is not an in situ cluster as there were two adult bones mixed in. Fabric fragments were also present, but there were no substantial coffin fragments.

• One isolated skull in the NW quadrant. The skull was damaged – fractured along the suture lines – likely from surface exposure in antiquity.

After coming upon the outline of a rectangular wooden coffin, we changed the general unit (11380) to reflect the presence of an in situ burial. M51 turned out to be the square with the highest quantity of in situ remains. Following is a summary of the in situ material from 11380:

• 11376/Individual 13: an in situ burial in the SW quadrant, consisting of a rectangular wooden coffin oriented NE–SW. Fragments of white plaster and traces of ochre pigment were preserved on the ends of the coffin. Measuring 1.34 m in length, the coffin belonged to a child/adolescent. In the interior was an individual, extended and face-down, with an articulated lower body and a jumbled upper body; the skull (11384) was disarticulated and located above the left kneecap. A small ceramic vessel was positioned outside the coffin, at the NE corner.

• 11389/Individual 17: an in situ burial located in the NW corner and extending northward into M52 (a sondage was opened to reveal this burial). It consisted of an articulated lower body covered with a collapsed, matted reed coffin; a slightly disturbed but largely articulated upper body, including two articulated arms and hands; three disarticulated skulls (11390,11391, 11399); and a scarab bead (11401) found in the associated sandy matrix near the lower legs. The body was in an extended position, lying on its right side, oriented NW–SE.

• One cluster (11295) of articulated and disarticulated bones, sitting directly on Individual 17 and likely associated with the two extra skulls present in Individual 17’s burial.

• 11403/Individual 16: an in situ burial in the eastern half of the square, continuing into N51 (a sondage was opened to reveal the burial). It consisted of articulated lower legs and feet covered in a collapsed, matted wooden coffin, and an extremely disturbed torso, of which only an articulated arm, disarticulated hand, and half of a collapsed rib cage remained. The body was extended, lying on its left side, oriented NE–SW.

• 11404/Individual 18: a badly robbed in situ burial, with only disarticulated feet, two vertebrae, and a kneecap remaining. The position and orientation of the burial was provided by the remains of the in situ matted wooden coffin, which was oriented NE–SW.

• 11407/Individual 20: an in situ burial consisting of articulated lower legs but no feet; the legs were covered in fabric and fragments of a collapsed, matted reed coffin. The burial disappeared into the east baulk, as there was no time to excavate another sondage to reveal the torso.

• Skull with the lower mandible articulated (11388) and an associated vertebra and humerus embedded in the S baulk. The left side of the skull was badly weathered and damaged from ancient exposure, whereas the right side still retained skin and hair fragments.

L51

One of the three squares added to the initial four, L51 was bracketed on the west by K51 and on the east by M51, measuring 5 m x 5 m. The surface level (opening Unit 11296) was gravely sand with marine limestone inclusions. A runnel – a continuation of that in M51 – ran NW–SE though the NE corner, measuring 2 m at its widest point. A single ceramic sherd lay on the surface in the SW corner. After two trowel spits, a deposit of compacted sand emerged in the same location as the runnel on the surface. We changed units, opening 11302, and removed the compacted sand deposit. As with M51, we did not establish a new, arbitrary stratigraphic division, but continued with 11302 as the context for the level of disturbed remains. This level produced one of the most interesting features of the season: a heap, in the western half of the square, of five articulated torsos, eleven skulls, and a cluster of disarticulated bones. All five torsos were face-down and lying on top of each other, clearly heaped into a pile by robbers. From uppermost to lowermost, the individuals are as follows:

• Individual 1 (11306): articulated vertebrae, pelvis, ribs, and femurs.

• Individual 2 (11318): articulated vertebrae, pelvis and right femur.

• Individual 3 (11324): articulated vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and right femur.

• Individual 4 (11317): articulated vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and left femur; on the bottom of the pile of bodies.

• Individual 5 (11328): articulated vertebrae, few ribs, pelvis and left femur; adjacent to 11317 and also on the bottom of the pile of bodies.

The eleven skulls were scattered throughout the deep deposit and could not be associated with any particular individual torso. One of the skulls (11329) was completely blackened from charring, as was the fabric attached to the skull. Also part of this deposit was a disarticulated cluster of bones (11312) with closely associated ceramic sherds, matting and fabric. Jerry Rose identified an adolescent individual within this cluster (Individual 6). Aside from this deep deposit of heaped bodies, three disarticulated bone clusters also appeared in this level, all in the NE quadrant.

When we came upon an in situ burial along the S grid line, we changed the general unit (11381) accordingly. This level contained one bone cluster and three in situ individuals. The bone cluster (11375), in the NE quadrant, included a semi-articulated foot, lower mandible (11377), and fragments of braided hair. The bones were in very poor condition, possibly from ancient exposure. The three in situ burials can be described as follows:

• Individual 12 (11373): burial located along the S grid line, consisting of articulated lower legs and feet with a jumbled torso. The jumble included a skull (11374) and disarticulated lower mandible. The lower legs were wrapped in fabric and fragments of matted coffin were preserved, particularly beneath the legs. The body lay on its right side, extended, and oriented NW–SE (feet pointing SE).

• Individual 14 (11387): a disturbed and partially disarticulated burial in the NW quadrant. A femur was articulated with the pelvis, and an articulated lower arm and hand were displaced and located beneath the femur. An articulated but displaced foot was also present. The burial was disturbed to such a degree that only the matted wooden coffin fragments indicated the alignment of the burial; it was oriented NE–SW.

• Individual 19 (11405): an in situ but thoroughly robbed burial. Little remained of the body (a scapula, kneecap, phalanges, and fragments of braided hair and fabric); however, the in situ fragments of the collapsed matted wooden coffin indicated the original alignment. The burial was oriented NE–SW. A faience scarab bead (11406) was found in the sandy matrix of the burial; it has an incised inscription on the base which includes the cartouche of Menkheperre.

K51

Square K51, measuring 5 m x 5 m, was bracketed on the east by L51 and on the west by J51. The surface level (opening Unit 11298) was gravely sand with marine limestone inclusions. A narrow runnel ran NW–SE from the SE corner, halfway across the square and measuring 0.7 m at its widest point. A fragment of a ceramic vessel also lay in the SE corner. After two trowel spits, the deposit was primarily loose, soft sand with only a few scattered patches of more compacted, smooth sand. We opened Unit 11303; after one trowel spit the deposit was uniformly loose, gravely sand. As with M51 and L51, we did not establish a new, arbitrary stratigraphic division; Unit 11303 continued to be the context for the level of disturbed remains. Square K51 was among the most archaeologically barren of the seven squares excavated this season, at the levels of both disturbed material and in situ remains. Unit 11303 produced only one disarticulated bone cluster (11335), located in the NE quadrant and consisting of a pelvis, femur, ribs, fingers and/or toes, and a fragment of rope. Fabric still adhered to the femur, though the ribs were in a particularly poor state of preservation.

When we came upon an in situ burial in the NE corner, we changed the general unit to 11349. This burial (11346/Individual 8) was the only in situ find for Unit 11349. It consisted of articulated lower legs (and the unfused end of the right femur) wrapped in fabric, with only a few disarticulated bones of the right foot remaining. Fragments of a collapsed, matted coffin were around and beneath the legs. The jumbled, disarticulated torso included ribs, vertebrae, phalanges, a lower mandible and two scapulae. The body was oriented roughly E–W, feet pointing E. Brown staining occurred in the sandy deposit surrounding the legs, perhaps due to the decay of bodily fluids and tissue.

Excavation ceased in K51 on April 1st, as the work concentrated in other areas for the final week.

Surface structural remains


Barry Kemp
Prior to the start of the excavation, several pieces of mud brick protruded from the side of the sand terrace above the wadi, located in square F50 and beside a recent cutting into the side. All pieces had been made from Nile alluvial clay mixed with gravel and occasional sherds. Some erosion had affected the surfaces. The principal pieces were as follows:


length width thickness notes
1 - 17 10 a patch of mud plaster mixed
with plant stems survives on
the top surface

2 33 16.5 9.5 possible patch of mortar on one side

3 34 16 9  

4 - 16.5 8  

5 - 15.5 - top covered with thin layerof mud plaster with plant stems
6 - 16 9 the same, with traces of mortar on one side face

7 - 15.5 8.5 mud plaster (not mortar) covers one side face

8 - 17 8 layer of mud mortar on top,
9 - 16 - with ridge from gap between bricks from the course above

10 - - - 6 cm thick fragment of mortar, perhaps with brick division preserved

The bricks thus appear to have come from a walled construction that was mud plastered to some extent. By the end of the 2006 season of excavation it was reasonably certain that these bricks derived from the destruction of the southern end of the brick vaulted tomb that lay not far away, in square G51.

In the vicinity were also three blocks cut from a very shelly limestone, weathered to varying extents.

1. square H50 surface: 54 x 26 x 15–18 cm. One end damaged.

2. on the wadi floor in square F49: 47 x 26 x c. 16 cm

3. further out on the wadi floor: 44 x 25 x 17–18 cm. This block has been cut more square than the other two and the surfaces are more regular.

These blocks might point to a more substantial structure in the cemetery, or they might have been used singly as grave makers.

Index of small finds


Anna Stevens
In addition to the limestone stelae (discussed below) and pottery vessels, the excavations yielded a small collection of objects. The range of material was quite limited, but not without interest. An index of the objects is presented for download here - download spreadsheet here - as an excel spreadsheet; it includes the objects collected during surface survey in 2005.

Faience jewellery, predominantly beads and collar pendants, occurred most frequently. It is possible that most of the pendants came from a single floral collar. These were not found in a group, although some were recovered from the same context. It is more their uniformity in design and scale that suggests they were from one collar, perhaps broken apart by grave-robbers. Figure 23 is a suggested reconstruction, drawing upon a rarely attested intact collar from the city (illustrated in Frankfort and Pendlebury 1933, pl. XXXVI). Hieroglyphic motifs were seemingly also in use at the cemetery: two fragments of possible nefer-design pendants were recovered, conceivably also from the floral collar. During the 2005 surface survey, a wedjat-eye finger ring was collected, the only finger ring yet recovered from the site, although the use of metal rings is attested in the staining on one finger bone (also from the 2005 survey: see 2005 survey results).

(Fig.23) Group of faience collar pendants, quite possibly from a single collar. From left to right; top row: obj. 37564, 37521, 37552, 37554; second row: 37647; third row: 37536, 37507, 37516, 37578, 37535, 37495i; bottom row: 37495ii, 27557
(Fig.23) Group of faience collar pendants, quite possibly from a single collar. From left to right; top row: obj. 37564, 37521, 37552, 37554; second row: 37647; third row: 37536, 37507, 37516, 37578, 37535, 37495i; bottom row: 37495ii, 27557

Some of the beads were ‘fused’ together, a point of interest because when found in the city such beads have sometimes been posited as ‘manufacturing errors’, and used as evidence for the occurrence of production nearby. Their presence at the cemetery suggests that such fusing could be caused by post-deposition environmental conditions.

(Fig.24) Steatite scarab (obj. 37630), inscribed ‘the good god, lord of the two lands, Menkheperra, appearing in Thebes'
(Fig.24) Steatite scarab (obj. 37630), inscribed ‘the good god, lord of the two lands, Menkheperra, appearing in Thebes'

(Fig.25) Steatite scarab (obj. 37637) decorated on the underside with a scarab and ankh-signs
(Fig.25) Steatite scarab (obj. 37637) decorated on the underside with a scarab and ankh-signs

Two of the finest pieces were steatite scarabs, objects 37630 (Figure 24) and 37637 (Figure 25). Both were pierced, although it is not clear if they were ever strung (obj. 37637 has slight abrasions around the aperture, perhaps from string). One was inscribed 'the good god, lord of the two lands, Menkheperra, appearing in Thebes'; the mention of Thutmose III could indicate that it was an heirloom (others Thutmose III scarabs are known from the site: for example, Petrie 1894, pl. XIV). The second bears on its underside a design of a scarab and probable sun disc, ankhs and curved lines.

Otherwise the corpus included fragments of textiles, probably used as body wrappings; small pieces of plaster (some painted), wood, and gold leaf, likely to have been parts of coffins or body coverings; a small number of retouched chert flakes; and re-used sherds with abraded edges. A fragment of a glass vessel was recovered during surface survey in 2005, but no glass was found during excavation in 2006.

Most of the objects are probably the remnants of burial assemblages, which we might assume were quite modest, even allowing for the activities of robbers. Another source of potential deposition is post-burial activity, such as the deliberate deposition of offerings and incidental loss or discard. The heavy disturbance to the cemetery makes it difficult to investigate by stratigraphic or contextual means when and where objects were originally left. There is little in the small finds assemblage that speaks immediately of ‘offerings’, but we are very limited in our knowledge of what, if anything, constituted a suitable material offering at a lower class cemetery of this kind.

Citations

Frankfort, H. and Pendlebury, J. D. S. 1933, The City of Akhenaten II: The North Suburb and the Desert Altars, London.

Petrie, W. M. F. 1894, Tell el Amarna, Warminster.

The limestone stelae

Barry Kemp

(Fig.26) stela 37581
(Fig.26) stela 37581

37581              Stela
Material            Limestone
Dimensions       l = 46.0 cm w = 26.0 cm th = 6.5 cm
Provenance       I51 [11322] within (11285)

Rectangular stela with triangular top. The front bears a rectangular recess, on average around 1 cm deep. The sides of the recess slope inwards slightly. The limestone is relatively coarse with moderate fossil shells, but quite hard. Much of the surface of the stone has a pale yellow sandy crust, beneath which the stone is white. The crust is particularly noticeable on the front and along the top of the sides, excluding those of the triangular top. The reverse face is heavily and irregularly weathered, particularly in a horizontal band through the central margin. This could suggest that for part of its history the stela has lain face down. An overall circular depression in the centre front of the triangular top seems deliberate. Along the top edge in the back of the recess is a faintly textured band c. 2 cm broad. This may be chisel marks running vertically, or perhaps a decorative striped panel. There is patchy black discolouration in the lower left corner and near the upper left corner of the recess. Similar small patches also appear on the outer edges and corners and on the front of the triangular top. These are probably not pigment.

(Fig.27) stela 37640
(Fig.27) stela 37640

37640              Stela
Material            Limestone
Dimensions       l = 42.0 cm w = 23.5 cm th = 8.0 cm
Provenance       J51 [11307] within (11284)

Rectangular stela with three triangular projections on what is presumably the top. The front, reverse and sides are very badly weathered – more so than stela 37581. But in an 11–15 cm wide band around the bottom of the stela (widest around the reverse face), the original surface of the stone is preserved; the base itself is quite smooth. The front surface is largely covered by a rectangular recess probably originally around 1/2 cm deep on average. The reverse surface seems originally to have been smoothed. A tiny pink patch on top of the left triangular projection is potentially remnant red paint. The limestone is coarse and fossil-rich, cf. 37581, now slightly friable from weathering. The stone has weathered to a slightly creamish shade. It has none of the sandy crust as found on 37581.

Both objects were presumably to be displayed vertically – as stelae –and not horizontally as offering-tables or similar. Stela 37581 conforms to a shape for memorial stelae that is represented by many examples from the New Kingdom. Some of the stelae that depict ancestral ‘worthy spirits of Ra’ figures have this shape. The distinctive element is a triangular top decorated with a variety of designs. Several are jackals identified as Anubis, but some are solar (the horizon-hieroglyph, a solar boat). The seemingly deliberate shallow circular depression carved in the centre of 37581 was perhaps intended to connect with this imagery. Stela 37640 was found close by and so would have been seen at the same time as 37581. Its row of three triangles is thus likely to be an alternative interpretation of the single triangle, perhaps influenced by the ‘desert’-hieroglyph of three hills separated by valleys.

Both stelae have been prepared with carefully cut rectangular recesses occupying much of their front surfaces. Their most likely purpose was to hold an inserted plaque of a different material, that could have been made from wood, faience or metal, held in place with gypsum cement. No trace of plaque or cement survives, but both stelae have weathered surfaces.

A stela that is similar in shape (though far smaller) and retains intact a bronze decorated plaque forms part of the Petrie Museum, University College London. It could well be of a later period, but the similarity is close enough to include a description and illustration here (with thanks to Stephen Quirke for making it available, and to the Petrie Museum for permission to publish).

UC 35817        Stela
Material            Fine grained compact limestone.
Dimensions       w = 6.0 cm       l = 8.5 cm         th = 2.5–2.9 cm
Dimensions       w = 3.0–3.2 cm             ht = 4.9–5.0 cm
of copper-alloy plate
Provenance       Unknown

The sides and back of the stela have been carefully smoothed to create flat even planes, though leaving faint parallel abrasion lines at an angle to the edges. For the top, the sides angle inwards along a defined line, with a very slight convexity developing as they rise. A second less pronounced angle creates a slightly convex top surface.

A winged disc has been carved at the top of the stela, the disc in sunk relief, the flanking uraei and feathering outlined with incised lines with rounded profiles. A small circular depression is cut into the middle of the disc. A narrow vertical panel extends down the sides of the stela, each one cut in sunk relief with shallow convex surfaces crossed by groups of incised horizontal lines. On the left the grouping is (from top to bottom) three plus four plus four; on the right it is four plus one plus four. The bottom panel is outlined at the sides with incised lines but the surface has not been cut back or modelled. Instead it has been divided by incised vertical lines into three compartments. Each one is occupied by right-facing rekhyt-birds, partially carved with incised outlines and partly with simple internal convex modelling.

Faint traces of blue/green pigment remain in some of the incised lines. The surface of the limestone bears patches of brownish patination. Areas of damage occur principally at the top, on left and right.

The centre of the face of the stela is occupied by a rectangular compartment to receive a copper-alloy plate. The plate makes a very snug fit into a slightly irregular outline. Presumably the limestone has been trimmed to fit the plate rather than vice-versa. It is possible that cement fill (stained a pale green) is visible along the right edge where the plate looks more irregular.

The metal plate itself bulges outwards slightly towards the middle. The surface is covered with green patination through which patches of copper-alloy colour show. The surface of the metal has been decorated with a sharply pointed instrument scoring narrow lines that mostly remain sharply delineated.

The design on the plate depicts Osiris seated on a throne with a low base, facing to the right. Osiris seems to be heavily swathed, in that the inside lines of his arms are not indicated. The outlines of his hands are faintly visible where they emerge, grasping a crook over his right shoulder and a flail over his left. The outline of his tall crown is clear. It ends at the top in a point. Two arcs to left and right of the point are probably faintly present, that would delineate the rounded swelling at the top of the crown. Stewart draws side feathers to the crown. That on the left I could not see. On the right there are marks that can be seen as the appropriate shape, but the outline seems not to have been incised as deeply as was the outline of the crown itself, which is very clear. The facial profile of Osiris is almost lost to corrosion, except for a short horizontal incision to represent the eye.

In the top right area are the remains of hieroglyphs. The clearest is the owl m. Beneath comes a group of short straight strokes. Might they form the house, pr? To the left is a probable vertical dividing line. To the left of this comes a small rectangle made from short strokes; forming the letter p? A short horizontal line is visible beneath. Faint and shallow marks occur even further to the left.

Previous publication: Stewart (1983), 13, no. 39, Pl. 18;
http://www.petrie.ucl.ac.uk/detail/details/index_no_login.php?objectid=UC35817&ac

The following references to published material are the result of an initial rapid literature search only.

‘Stèles à fronton triangulaire.’ Vandier 1954, 516–8; Edwards 1939, 42, Pl. XXXVI, no. 301; James 1970, 19, Pls. XV, XVA; no. 183; 27–8, Pls. XXIII, XXIIIA, no. 149; 50–1, Pls. XLI, XL1A, nos. 359, 372; Bierbrier 1982, 23–4, Pls. 54, 55, no. 1188; Bierbrier 1993, 20, Pls. 60, 61, no. 349; Tosi and Roccati 1972, 105–6, 292, no. 50069. They form a group amongst the ancestor stelae: Demarée 1983, 173–7, Pls. I, A1; V.A16; VIII.A27= XV.A27; X.A35, A36, A38; XI.A40.

Stelae with inserts of other materials: limestone stela from Deir el-Medina with faience inlay of a Hathor cow, Anon 2002, 233, no. 189.

Anon 2002. Les artistes de Pharaon; Deir el-Médineh et la Vallée des Rois. Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux and Turnhout (Belgium), Brepols.

Bierbrier, M.L., 1982. Hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae, etc. Part 10. London, British Museum.

Bierbrier, M.L., 1993. Hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae, etc. Part 12. London, British Museum.

Demarée, R.J., 1983. The Akh iker n Re-Stelae; on ancestor worship in ancient Egypt. Leiden, Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten te Leiden.

Edwards, I.E.S., 1939. Hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae, etc. Part VIII. London, British Museum.

James, T.G.H., 1970. Hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae, etc. Part 9. London, British Museum.

Stewart, H.M., 1983. Egyptian stelae reliefs and paintings from the Petrie Collection. III. The Late Period. Warminster, Aris and Phillips.

Tosi, M. and A. Roccati, 1972. Stele e altre epigrafi di Deir el Medina n. 50001–n. 50262. Turin, Pozzo.

Vandier, J., 1954. Manuel d’Archéologie Égyptienne. II Les grandes époques. * L’architecture funéraire. Paris, Picard.

The human remains

Jerry Rose

Introduction

A flood in years passed washed away part of a cemetery located on a wadi adjacent to the South Tombs and exposed bones and ceramics that led to its discovery. In 2005 the human bones were systematically collected from the surface of the wadi, brought to the on-site laboratory, and subjected to osteological analysis. These remains consisted of fragmentary to complete bones that represented 53 adults (76%), 14 juveniles (20%), and 3 infants (4%). These proportions deviate from the expected by having too few infants and too many juveniles. Paleopathological analysis indicates that infectious lesions (2=8%), generative joint disease (2=8%), and healed fractures (2=8%) are all relatively low. In contrast, cribra orbitalia indicating childhood anaemia is higher than expected at 13=23%. Anaemia usually results from some combination of an iron-poor diet and frequent childhood disease and parasitism. These results prompt three questions. First, where are all the infants? We should expect up to 30% infants in the sample. Were most of the small delicate bones destroyed in the flood or were the infants disposed of someplace other than the cemetery? Second, why is the proportion of juveniles so high when this age group always has the lowest mortality? Were the conditions of life so difficult that juveniles died and adults did not live to an old age? Third, why is the frequency of anaemia so high? This capital city was constructed on land not previously occupied and so should have been free of parasites from human waste. The city was only occupied for a few decades and should not, even at its end, have had the contaminated environment of other ancient cities. Further, it is reasonable to think that workers in a capital city would have been well fed. All of these conditions should have produced low levels of anaemia . These questions shaped the analysis of the skeletal material excavated during the 2006 season when a strip of the cemetery measuring 5 x 35 metres was excavated. The skulls and post cranial bones of identified burials were examined during a 10-day period; the rest of the skeletal collection will be examined during the next season.

Methods

The human skeletal material was brought from the excavations to the laboratory each day in crates marked by day of excavation. The bones were in plastic bags labelled with their unit number, square, and other pertinent information. All the crates were inspected and the skulls removed for cleaning and examination. Everything was cleaned by dry brushing with a tooth-brush and a wooden skewer. The contents of the skulls was removed through the foramen magnum and sifted through a fine mesh. The dried brains (Figure 28) were removed, placed in plastic bags and labelled. Observations were made for determining age and sex, bone and tooth pathology, in addition to dental wear. The excavators identified individuals and burials in the field. In each case these were arrangements of articulated bones. Unfortunately, none of the skeletons were complete and there are only two skulls directly associated with the postcranial skeleton because all graves had been disturbed during robbery in ancient times. These identified individuals were removed from the crates, cleaned by dry-brushing and examined for evidence of age, sex, and pathology, while all possible measurements were taken. All observations and measurements followed the protocol stipulated by Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994).

(Fig.28) Skull showing brain (reddish brown) still in situ within sandy matrix
(Fig.28) Skull showing brain (reddish brown) still in situ within sandy matrix

Data from the skulls are reported along with the total number of skulls examined in the appropriate age and sex group. Similarly observations of the postcranial skeleton are reported by the total possible observations within each age and sex group. For example, there were only 7 adult spinal columns that could be examined and, thus, 7 is used for calculating the proportion of spinal conditions. The denominators of the ratios vary depending on the total number of bones of a particular type that could be observed for a particular condition. The minimum number of individuals (MNI) is also used in determining proportions of conditions where appropriate. The minimum number of individuals is determined from the number of skulls within each age and sex group as this is the most frequently represented bone (it was also purposefully selected). This is true for all groups except the 15–20-year-old juveniles where there were four nearly intact torsos, but only one skull which happens to be associated with much of the postcranial skeleton.

Results

A minimum number of 27 individuals were determined: one infant at 0–5 years (4%) represented by only a partial skull; 10 juveniles at 5–20 years (37%); and 16 adults (61%). The distribution of juveniles is 4 at 5–10 years, 2 at 10–15 years, and 4 at 15–20 years. For adults there are 13 at 20–35 years, 2 at 35–50 years and one adult of unknown age. Of the 15 aged adults 67% are males or possible males. As most of these sex determinations were made from skulls, it is expected that once all the pelvic material is studied this ratio will be reduced.

The virtual absence of infants (4%) is very similar to the wadi sample and suggests that the dead infants are not in the cemetery and were disposed of elsewhere. If infants were buried in the cemetery they should comprise 20 to 40% of the individuals and, if present, would have been found by the excavators who used only trowels. In contrast, the juveniles (5–20 years) compose 37% of the sample which is too high because this age group should always have the lowest mortality. Of the 15 aged adults only 2 (13%) are over the age of 35 years. The high proportion of juveniles and the virtual absence of old adults suggests that this population lived under conditions of high stress and suffered high mortality at every age.

No long bone showing periostitis (infection) was found among the articulated skeletons. One of the 11 non-associated complete tibia has a small (10 x 35 mm) patch of healed periostitis on the lateral surface of the mid-shaft. Combining these 11 tibiae with the 5 from the articulated skeletons gives a maximum infection rate of 6% which is the same as the 2005 wadi sample. One skull (11343; I51) has an active infection of the left maxilla that clearly derives from a dental abscess.

(Fig.29) 3rd lumbar vertebra showing crushed and fractured anterior body
(Fig.29) 3rd lumbar vertebra showing crushed and fractured anterior body

(Fig.30) Lumbar vertebrae fitted together to show healing
(Fig.30) Lumbar vertebrae fitted together to show healing

Healed long-bone fractures are also rare, with only two fibulae with healed fractures. One on Individual 12 (11373; L51) and the other from an isolated fibula examined along with all complete long bones. The maximum number of leg-bone sets examined is 22 and this provides a minimum healed fracture rate of 9%. Again results are similar to the 2005 wadi sample. Individual 5 (11328; L51) is an unusual example of spinal trauma (Figures 29 and 30). The inferior anterior (lower front) edge of the 2nd lumbar vertebral body was pushed downward with such force that it crushed and fractured the body of the 3rd lumbar vertebra. During healing the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebral bodies were fused together by sheets of new bone. The healing was excellent because no angulation resulted. The transverse processes of the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae are completely fused together, but separated from their respective vertebral bodies being held in approximate position forming a pseudoarthrosis. Two of the left ribs (between 5 and 8 in position) have nodules of bone (callus from a healed fracture) that join them together in a pseudoarthrosis. This trauma is located approximately one quarter of the length from the anterior ends of the ribs. At the edge of the auricular joint of the left ilium there is a ridge of bone that seems to have functioned to hold the sacrum in place. The sacrum has been modified to accommodate this ridge suggesting that some locomotor accommodation had to be made during healing. All of these healed fractures are likely to have been associated with a single accident that occurred when this 20–35 year old female was a juvenile. This trauma could have occurred by falling from a height onto her feet or having a heavy load dropped onto her head or shoulders when it was being loaded for carrying. Spinal trauma is also indicated by one case of 5th lumbar spina bifida (nonunion of the neural arch and vertebral body) and another case that involves the 5th lumbar and sacrum (Figure 31). This latter 17–20 year old also has Schmorl’s nodes on the inferior thoracic 12, superior 1st lumbar and superior 2nd lumbar surfaces. These are caused by herniation of the vertebral disk during severe compression of the spine. In sum, 57% of the 7 spines available for examination evidenced trauma. This suggests that young people were performing tasks that caused compression of the spine. In other words, they were carrying very heavy loads at very young ages.

(Fig.31) Spina bifida of sacrum
(Fig.31) Spina bifida of sacrum

The high rate (23%) of anaemia found in the 2005 wadi sample was confirmed in the present analysis. A total of 5 of the 6 juveniles (83%) aged between 5 and 15 years had cribra orbitalia (Figure 32). These lesions of the upper eye orbits ranged from coalesced pits in a non-elevated surface to an extensive raised surface with a coral textured surface. Among adults 3 of the 16 observed orbits (19%) also exhibited cribra orbitalia that ranged from active to healed lesions. Taking all together provides an anaemia rate of 36%. This is a high rate indicating an iron-poor diet.

(Fig.32) Cribra orbitalia within left eye orbit
(Fig.32) Cribra orbitalia within left eye orbit

Conclusions

The analysis of the excavated skulls and individuals shows that they resemble in demographic profile and paleopathology the results obtained from the 2005 surface collection. There are few infants indicating that they were not buried in the cemetery but disposed of elsewhere. There are too many juveniles suggesting that stress was high and mortality high at even the youngest ages. The 57% rate of spinal trauma points to high work levels involved with carrying heavy loads even at the earliest ages. The 36% cribra orbitalia rate points to an iron poor diet and possibly other stressors that remain to be determined.

Citations

Buikstra, Jane E. and Douglas H. Ubelaker (eds), 1995. Standards for Data Collection from Human Skeletal Remains. Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Series No. 44, Fayetteville AR, USA.

Unit index report for TA.ST 06/Grid 14

11290:J51 isolated skull; adult possible female.

11292 J51 isolated skull; possible male 20–35 years.

11294 G51 isolated skull; male 20–35 years.

11300 J51 isolated skull; female 20–35.

11306 L51 indiv. 1; juvenile between 15–16 years of unknown sex.

11310 L51 skull 1; possible female 20–35 years with cribra orbitalia in the eye orbits that indicate previous anaemia.

11311 L51 skull; 2 possible male 20–35 years.

11312 L51 indiv. 6; juvenile between 12–15 years of unknown sex.

11313 L51 skull 3; male 20–35 years.

11314 J51 isolated skull; child between 6 and 7 years with cribra orbitalia indicating anaemia.

11317 L51 indiv. 4; 15–16 year old juvenile of unknown sex.

11318 L51 indiv. 2; is a possible male between 20–25 years with spina bifida – unfused neural arch of lumbar vertebra 5.

11319 L51 skull 4; female between 20 and 35 years with cribra orbitalia indicating previous childhood anaemia.

11320 L51 skull 5; this is a 10-year-old child.

11321 L51 skull 6; possible male 20–35 years.

11324 L51 indiv. 3; is a female 22–25 years.

11325 L51 skull 7; male 20–35 years.

11327 L51 skull 8; is a 5 year old child with cribra orbitalia indicating anaemia.

11328 L51; this female is 25 years old and has 2 healed rib fractures and the second lumbar vertebra was crushed into the third lumbar vertebra (Figures 29,30). This healed fracture was probably the result of a fall from a height landing on her feet.

11329 L51 skull 9; is a male 20–25 years.

11330 L51 skull 10; is a male 35–50 years, with a small depressed fracture on the skull.

11331 L51 skull 11; this is a 9–12-year-old juvenile with cribra orbitalia indicating anaemia.

11333 M51 skull; this is a 6–7-year-old with cribra orbitalia indicating anaemia.

11338 J51; this cluster contains fragments of a 6-year-old and an adult male.

11342 H51 skull; female 20–35 years.

11343 I51 skull (Figure 28); possible male 35–50 years with an active infection of the left maxilla (left upper jaw).

11344 L51 skull; male 20–35 years.

11345 I51 indiv. 7; probable male 20–35 years.

11346 K51 indiv. 8; juvenile of 15–20 years of unknown sex.

11347 G51 indiv. 9; juvenile of 17–20 years of unknown sex with spina bifida (unfused neural arch) of the 5th lumbar vertebra (Figure 31).

11370 M51 indiv. 10; child of 7 years.

11374 skull and 11373 body of indiv. 12; probable female of 20–35 years with a healed fracture of the fibula.

11371 indiv. 11; probable female of 20–35 years.

11383; juvenile of 12–15 years with cribra orbitalia indicating anaemia.

Directional notations for in situ individuals are in reference to magnetic north, rather than our ‘site north’, as the in situ burials have been redrawn to illustrate their orientations according to magnetic north.

 
 

Website first posted September 2000; last updated November 2010 | enquiries concerning website: email bjk2@cam.ac.uk