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The collating of old excavation records from the first part of the 20th century forms part of the work of compiling the small finds database.


Anna Stevens

Download the Amarna Small Finds Database (excel spreadsheet)
Key to small finds database

The Amarna Small Finds Database began as an electronic version of the City of Akhenaten Object Index, compiled originally by John Ruffle and Elizabeth Moignard in 1970. The Ruffle/Moignard Index dealt with the objects excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society from 1921-1936. As the EES excavators worked, they maintained a numbered index of registration cards of the objects they considered the most important. References to these objects are scattered through the three published excavation reports, City of Akhenaten, vols I-III, appearing either incidentally in the text or more formally laid out as lists to accompany the description of individual buildings. A small selection was illustrated, and often information was included as to which museum a particular piece was destined. The Ruffle/Moignard Index related the excavators’ object numbers to the page references in the three excavation volumes. The Index was intended for use by museum curators and other researchers to facilitate references to the objects in the publication. It highlighted many gaps in the publication record of the objects.

The task of converting the Ruffle/Moignard Index into an electronic database was undertaken by a volunteer, Dr Nuala Simpson, who also began the process of expanding it to include descriptions of the objects, working from the published excavation reports. The database has since been expanded further, to include information from the original registration cards and the index of photographic negatives in the EES Amarna Archive. This has filled the gaps highlighted in the original Ruffle/Moignard Index.

As it stands currently, therefore, the database includes all objects assigned a registration number during the course of the EES excavations from 1921–1936, over seven and a half thousand pieces. It remains, however, a work in progress. Information on the objects, which sometimes duplicates but at times supplements the excavation reports, registration cards and negative index, can be found elsewhere in the Amarna Archive, such as in the excavation diary entries. A future task will be to incorporate this information. The database will also be expanded to include:

  • finds from the early EES excavations not assigned a registration number nor an individual registration card, but documented in separate lists in the Amarna Archive. Most of this material comprises small items of jewellery and pottery moulds;
  • objects from the excavations of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft;
  • and finds from the current EES excavations.

The database serves two purposes. On the one hand, it forms part of a larger project on the Amarna small finds, intended to be linked to a GIS framework to allow the integration of objects and space across the site. On the other, it continues the aims of the original Ruffle/Moignard Index: to facilitate broader research on the Amarna objects. It is in this guise that it is presented here. Feedback from those using the database, whether information on museum location, comments, additions or corrections, is gratefully received. Correspondence should be addressed to Anna Stevens at aks52@cam.ac.uk

A sample of faience finger-ring bezels from the 1933/4 EES excavations. EES Negative 33/34–O.112.
A sample of faience finger-ring bezels from the 1933/4 EES excavations. EES Negative 33/34–O.112.

Progress and updates

Work on the database is ongoing; please check the list of updates below to ensure you are using the latest version.

  • June 2005: minor additions, mainly to the current locations of objects
  • November 2004: initial uploading of database with entries for all objects assigned a registration number during the EES excavations from 1921–1936.

Using the database

The database can be downloaded via the link at the top of the page. Note that it has been protected, so users wishing to search and run filters will need to first unprotect it via the 'format' or 'tools' menus. It is divided into several columns, the contents of which are explained below.

Column A: Year
Self explanatory; the year in which the object was excavated (and, usually, registered).

Column B: Registration number
The original object numbering system started from no. 1 each year and prefixed to each number two digits to represent the year in which the excavation season started. Thus object number 26 recorded during the 1921 season appeared as 21/26. Occasionally, several different objects are listed under the one registration number. Usually, the excavators distinguished between them by means of lower case letters added as suffixes to the registration number (e.g. 21/26a), a system followed here, with each object listed in a separate row. At times, however, these suffixes were not added. It has been felt unwise to add them at this stage, so the objects are simply listed on separate rows, each assigned the same registration number.

In two seasons, two parallel registers of objects were maintained, each beginning at number 1. This is the case for the 1923 excavations, when one register was kept for finds from the North Palace and another for finds from the remainder of the excavation. Both began with the number 23/1. In the database, the material from the North Palace has been given an 'N' suffix (e.g. 23N/1). During the 1926 season, pieces of inscribed stone were recorded in a sequence that ran in parallel to the remaining finds, but were distinguished by the excavators themselves with an 'S' suffix. This has been retained in the database.

In places, gaps exist in the sequence. Sometimes these are single numbers. It is likely that these are numbers that were inadvertently skipped or used then abandoned. In a few cases, larger groups of numbers are unused. These perhaps represent spare or unused numbers; future work may clarify this.

Columns C-F: Provenance
Column C: Area/Suburb
An indication of general horizontal provenance (e.g. M.C. = Main City).

List of abbreviations:

Abbreviations in Column C Unabbreviated Abbreviations in Column D Unabbreviated
C.C. Central City G.A.T. Great Aten Temple
S.A.T. Small Aten Temple
Maru Aten - SP ?Southern Pool
M.C. Main City    
N.C. North City    
N.P. North Palace    
N.S. North Suburb    
W.V. Workmen's Village    

Column D: Subdivision/building label
Usually a 'house number' (e.g. P47.3).
Column E: Further details
Room numbers, etc, where provided.
Column F: Stratigraphy

Occasionally, basic details of the vertical position of an object are recorded on the registration cards. A note is sometimes added that the object was 'in sand', on the 'desert surface', in a 'well', in 'radim' and so on. The latter is the Arabic for 'rubbish' and is presumably being used here to refer to the horizon of mud-brick typically encountered at the site beneath the surface sand and above in-situ structural remains. It may indicate, more specifically, rubble that has been disturbed, or is at least disarticulated, as opposed to sections of undisturbed collapse.

Columns G-N: Description
Column G: Material/s
Self explanatory. Note that the early small finds register, and hence the database, occasionally includes material that would not generally be catalogued with small finds today, such as unworked human and animal remains, and plant matter.
Column H: Identification: key words

To facilitate searches of the database (and the eventual incorporation of the database into a GIS framework), descriptions are provided by means of a string of standardised 'nested' key words, beginning with a general classification and progressing to a more specific descriptive label. The length of each string varies.

For example: 'figurine: anthropoid: female: fertility figurine'; 'implement: knife'; 'jewellery: pendant: floral: cornflower'

It is important to note that the key words in Column H relate to the form of an object and not its decoration. Hence, a ring with bezel in the shape of a wedjat eye will be described 'jewellery: ring: hieroglyph: wedjat'. A ring with a square or oval bezel into which a wedjat-eye motif has been impressed will be described 'jewellery: ring' in column H and 'hieroglyph: wedjat' in column O, which deals with decoration.
The following table outlines the general categories are used for the initial level of classification. The complete set of key words can be found here: Key words

Category Notes


Staves etc

Agricultural equipment

Hoes, ploughs


Small moulded objects. To be distinguished from jewellery in that they display no means of suspension. Sometimes difficult to distinguish from inlays.

Animal equipment -
Animal remains -
Architectural element Loose fragments that were originally in-situ architectural features: pieces of wall relief, door posts and lintels, window frames etc.
Binding Lengths of rope, leather etc. (Often conceivably part of objects rather than binding as such)
Cast Plaster casts of inscriptions etc
Coin -
Container Generally basketry. Distinguished from 'vessels' in that they are unsuitable for holding liquids etc.
Cosmetic items Kohl pots, sticks and tubes, mirrors etc. The term 'cosmetic tool' is used to refer to the razor-like pivotted metal objects generally considered to have been multi-purpose cosmetic implements.
Cuneiform tablet -
Decorative element For furnishing: decorative studs etc. Often difficult to identify.
Fastening Nails, rivet etc
Figurine Generally smaller and of poorer or less elaborate nature than statuettes. Often of pottery.
Fishing equipment Fish hooks
Food production piece rindstones etc. Category overlaps with 'stone tools', 'tools' and 'implements'. Potential for use in contexts besides food production.
Footwear Predominantly leather shoe soles
Funerary item Coffin pieces
Furnishing General household items
Gaming piece -
Human remains -
Implement Scissors, spatulas etc. A category that overlaps with 'tools', 'textile working pieces' etc.
Inlay Faience, glass or stone shapes originally inserted in a background to form elements of a broader composition.
Jar label Painted inscription on vessel/sherd
Jar stamp Impressed into vessel surface: inscriptions as opposed to individual signs (classified as potmarks)
Jewellery Rings, pendants, ear/hair rings, studs etc. All could be worn on the body
Joinery Wood with dowel holes etc
Label Pierced tablets
Leatherwork Pieces that cannot be identified further from the available records; often stitched. Leather shoes can be readily distinguished and are included in the 'footwear' category. Pieces of leather hafting etc appear under 'binding'.
Manufacturing piece Generally by-products of industrial processes/craft. Generally excludes tools etc
Metalwork Pieces of metal objects that cannot be identified further at present
Mineral sample -
Miscellaneous A 'catch all' category at present. Generally fragmentary pieces than cannot be identified from the available sources. Excludes leatherwork, stonework and metalwork.
Model Similar to figurines, but generally of non-figurative items: architectural elements etc
Mould Pottery or stone, for jewellery, inlays, amulets and figurines
Musical instrument Rattles, clappers
Natural object Shells, pebbles etc. Apparently not modified, although conceivably still perceived as 'objects'
Ostracon Figurative and inscribed; the latter generally in hieratic and often impossible to distinguish from jar labels in the records consulted to date
Papyrus Sheeting
Plant remains -
Plaque Flat pieces, finished on all faces and edges. Most often of faience, in which case they are almost impossible to distinguish from 'tiles' in the records. The designation 'tile or plaque' is generally given in the database: most of these pieces are probably tiles, which occur far more frequently than plaques in current excavations.
Potmark Single or small collections of marks/hieroglyphs in vessel surfaces; see also jar stamps
Ritual equipment Offering tables, portable shrines etc
Sculptor's model Plaster faces etc. Excludes stone slabs with hieroglyphs etc (classified here as 'trial pieces')
Seal Small inscribed pieces, excludes scarabs (classified here with amulets)
Stamp -
Statue -
Statuette Smaller and more portable than statues; see also 'figurines'
Stela -
Stone tool Blades, pounders etc. Overlaps with 'tools' and 'implements'
Stonework Pieces of worked stone that cannot be identified further at present
Textile Generally fragments that cannot be identified further from the available sources
Textile decoration/beadwork Generally beads pierced more than once
Textile working piece Spindle whorls, spinning bowls etc
Tile Faience. Generally with one finished face; often form the background for inlays.
Tool Axe head, mallet etc. Overlaps with 'stone tools' and 'implements' . Generally more robust than the latter.
Transport item Chariot pieces
Trial piece Slabs with hieroglyphic signs, body parts etc
Vessel Pottery, faience, stone, mud and metal vessels
Vessel stopper Often mud, inscribed
Weapon Arrow and spear heads etc
Weighing equipment Scales and weights
Woodwork Pieces of worked wood that cannot be identified further at present

Column I: Notes on identification
Short notes supplementing the key word descriptions where possible/necessary.

Columns J & K: Number of fragments and Number of objects
An indication of the degree of completeness of the piece.

'1' in Column J indicates the object is preserved as one fragment
'2' in Column J and '1' in Column K indicates two fragments of the one object
'1' in Column K indicates one complete object.
Note that the degree of completeness relates directly to the description. A complete knife blade', for example, does not imply a complete knife.

Column L: Unfinished?
In cases where it is possible to identify unfinished pieces, this is indicated by an 'X' in Column L, or a question mark when this is not certain.

Column M: Type
To date, typologies have only been established for a small number of object categories.
For mud sealing typologies see:

  • Peet, T. E. and C. L. Woolley, 1923. The City of Akhenaten I: Excavations of 1921 and 1922 at el-'Amarna. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
  • Frankfort, H. and J. D. S. Pendlebury, 1933. The City of Akhenaten II: The North Suburb and the Desert Altars. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
  • Pendlebury, J. D. S., 1951. The City of Akhenaten III: The Central City and the Official Quarters. vols 1 & 2, London: Egypt Exploration Society.

For jewellery typologies see:

  • Boyce, A., 1995. Report on the 1987 excavations. House P46.33: the finds, in B. J. Kemp, ed., Amarna Reports VI. London: Egypt Exploration Society, 44-136.
  • Boyce, A., 1995. Collar and necklace designs at Amarna: a preliminary study of faience pendants, in B. J. Kemp, ed., Amarna Reports VI. London: Egypt Exploration Society, 336-71.
  • City of Akhenaten, vols I-III (details above)
  • Petrie, W. M. F., 1894. Tell el-Amarna. London: Methuen & Co.

A number of pottery vessels were registered as objects; these have not yet been typed according to the updated ceramic typology.

Column N: Colour
Self explanatory

Columns O-P: Decoration
To an extent, the key words used for the morphological description (Column H) are applied, but less rigidly.

Column Q: Date (if non-Eighteenth Dynasty)
In addition to Eighteenth Dynasty objects, a number of objects of other dates appear in the corpus, particularly of the Roman period. The dates provided by the excavators have been followed: the accuracy of these has not been confirmed.

Columns R-W: Measurements
Self explanatory.

Columns X-Z: Publication details
Self explanatory. Note the following abbreviations:
COAI = The City of Akhenaten I (details above)
COAII = The City of Akhenaten II (details above)
COAIII = The City of Akhenaten III (details above)

Columns AA-AC: Archive details
Column AA: Document
Reference to additional documents in the EES Amarna Archive on which the object is mentioned; a column that will be expanded considerably with future work. For the moment:

HC = hand copy
'Doc. X' is a document number in the Archive
Column AB: EES negative number
The excavators kept an index of photographic negatives, numbered sequentially and beginning at '1' each season. Some appear as prints in the excavation volumes. For the later seasons, negatives depicting objects were given the prefix 'O' (distinguished from architectural scenes, prefixed with 'A').

Column AC: Illustration on registration card
Self explanatory. In most cases, the registration cards include an illustration of the registered piece, usually to scale, although there is considerable variation in the quality of illustrations.

Columns AD-AF: Distribution
Three columns providing details of the institution to which the object is recorded as having been sent, as listed on the registration card and in the back of the excavation reports (there are occasionally discrepancies between the two). Where the present location of a piece is known, this is provided in Column AF; this column will certainly be expanded with future work.

A chart listing the abbreviations used for these institutions in the database can be found here: Abbreviations

In a number of cases, the institutions listed in the Archive and excavation reports have changed their names, closed or their collections been amalgamated with others. No attempt has yet been made to update these details.

The current location of those pieces for which no destination is listed is unknown, although it is likely that a significant number were reburied on site. The excavation reports occasionally refer to this practice (e.g. Frankfort and Pendlebury 1933: 118). Some of these artefact dumps have since been located but contained, for the most part, ceramics and stone fragments. It would seem that further dumps containing smaller objects are yet to be located.

Column AG: Comment
Brief comments on discrepancies in the records etc.

A selection of metal nails, blades, implements and a fish hook, from various locations in the Central City. Excavated by the EES in 1933/4. EES Negative 33/4–O.28.
A selection of metal nails, blades, implements and a fish hook, from various locations in the Central City. Excavated by the EES in 1933/4. EES Negative 33/4–O.28.


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