The Naqada Regional Archaeological Survey and Site Management Project
/Left: Plan of Nubt/
For the first time in 32 years work has resumed at the important site of Nubt (Naqada), discovered
by Petrie 134 years ago. The EES/University of Winchester Regional Archaeological Survey started a
pilot season in August 2018 to assess the condition and research potential of the site. A small team
has examined various parts of this large site, with surface artefacts indicating dates ranging from
the Middle Palaeolithic (ca. 100,000) through Naqada I (ca. 3,900 BC) to the Late Antique (AD 500).
One of the aims of this project is to raise awareness of the importance of this site amongst the
local people and the wider public, as well as protecting it for future generations. As such, future
seasons will concentrate on various aspects of site management and conservation issues, before
full-scale excavations start. The team are also surveying the wider region to place the site of Nubt
within its regional setting and undertaking geoarchaeological work to understand the past environment.
History of Research in the Naqada Region
The site of Nubt was first excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1894, along with James Quibell, although
the latter was primarily based at Ballas just north of Nubt and opposite the modern town of
Zawaydeh. At the time Petrie was unaware that he was excavating one of the most important
Predynastic sites in Upper Egypt, regarding the strange material he was excavating as belonging to
invaders who had come into Egypt during the First Intermediate Period. Work by Jacques de Morgan in
the Naqada Region however, indicated an earlier date and Petrie subsequently revised his findings
and worked out a relative dating system that is still at the core of our chronology for early Egypt.
His Sequence Dating method ordered the various stages of development during the Fourth Millennium BC
and into the Third Millennium BC.
/The minor step pyramid of Nubt/
The Naqada region which equates to the Old Kingdom Coptite Nome has a number of important early
sites where many famous researchers from the early days of Egyptology carried out excavations.
Gaston Maspero at Khozam; Jacques De Morgan at both Nubt and Naqada; Ludwig Borchardt at Naqada;
George Reisner at Ballas South, Deir el-Ballas and Naq el-Hai; John Garstang at Naqada. Later in the
twentieth century, the region was visited by Werner Kaiser and Karl Butzer (at Nubt); Fred Wendorf
(at Khattara) and Fekri A. Hassan (west bank survey).
After Petrie worked at Nubt and subsequently De Morgan's work at same site, the site lay dormant for
half a century until Kaiser returned to Nubt in 1958, with more extensive research staring in the
1970s. Thomas Hays surveyed the site between 1975 and 1977, Fekri Hassan carried out excavations
between 1978 and 1981, and Claudio Barocas between 1977 and 1986.
/View of the minor step pyramid from the New Kingdom rock-cut tombs./
Whereas Nubt occupies an important place in the history of Egyptology, the site has in recent years
been overshadowed by the extraordinary findings at Abydos and Hierakonpolis. The confusion resulting
from the terminology has aggravated this. Petrie named the site 'Naqada' despite the fact modern
Naqada is located several kilometres to the south and there being several archaeological sites in
between as well as at modern Naqada. Here the ancient name of the dynastic part of the site is used:
Nubt, 'Gold Town'.
The History of Nubt
The city of Nubt is most famous for the Predynastic settlement of South Town and its associated
cemeteries, such as the large communal cemetery N East and the elite cemetery N West, as well as the
smaller special cemeteries of N T, N G, and N South. The dates for these graves range from Naqada IA
(ca. 3,900 BC) to Naqada IIIC1 (ca. 3.060 BC). There are only a few Dynastic cemeteries that range
from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom, as well as Ptolemaic to Roman. The city is spread over
three spurs and the lower area in front of them. The earliest occupation was on Temple Spur,
probably dating to Naqada I. Occupation on South Town Spur seems to begin from early Naqada II. This
area seems to consist of a palace area, with indications for other areas of activities (including
storage facilities and workshops).
/Left: Was-sceptre of Amenhotep II, Copyright of the Victorian and Albert Museum, Museum no.
437-1895 (Copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum)./
The temple area at Nubt has a large amount of research potential, Petrie found evidence of a 4th
Dynasty temple, which is overlain by a 12th Dynasty temple, and by an 18th Dynasty temple (in which
the names of Thutmose I, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II and Amenhotep III are mentioned). It is probable
that all of these kings enhanced and enlarged the Temple of Seth, Lord of Nubt, which appears to
have later been appropriated by Ramesses II. The largest ever faience was-Sceptre, dating to the
reign of Amenhotep II, was discovered in the Temple of Seth. One of the latest objects is a vase
with the name of Sheshonq, indicating that the temple continued to function into at least the Third
Intermediate Period, although there is no evidence for Ptolemaic or later use. Also on the Temple
Spur is a large multi-period settlement, which in all probability dates back to the earliest graves
in the cemeteries. On the surface Old Kingdom beer jars can still be found, along with New Kingdom
In the desert to the west of the temple four rock-cut tombs belonging to the priests from the Temple
of Seth are located, dating to the 18th Dynasty. In front of these tombs is a lot of Roman and Late
Antique pottery, along with a few Middle Palaeolithic stone tools.
Another important area is Pyramid Spur, that has the minor step pyramid of Nubt (sometimes
identified as Ombos, Tukh, Naqada) located on it. This pyramid was probably built by king Huni at
the end of the 3rd Dynasty as part of a series of such structures all around Egypt. This structure
desperately needs a lot of conservation as well as protection.
The Local Workers
Petrie originally trained up the local workforce from Quft to work with him at Koptos, however, it
was when working at Nubt that they really came of age, excavating a very large site (including 3,000
graves). This Qufti workforce remained with Petrie throughout his archaeological work in Egypt,
travelling with him up and down Egypt. The descendents of this original workforce are now highly
skilled and sought after, and work with various missions throughout Egypt. Today, the EES/University
of Winchester Naqada Regional Archaeological Survey have as their reis, Omar Farouk, whose
great-great-grandfather Hussein worked with Petrie at Nubt. For this pilot season, we have two other
Qufti archaeologist with us, Yasseen Hassan Abduluhy Omar and Farouk Ali Farouk (photography).
/Surveying at Nubt/
/Surveying in the desert to the west of Nubt/
/Laying out new grid squares ay Manshiya, Kh.3./
/Omar, Joris, Tass, Jo and Yasseen at Nubt/
Geoffrey Tassie, University of Winchester, Director, Chipped Stone Artefacts, Small Finds
Joanne Rowland, University of Edinburgh, Assistant Director, Ceramics, Survey
Joris van Wetering, freelance: archaeologist specialising in the site of Nubt and the Naqada region
Richard Jaeschke, freelance: conservator
Omar Farouk, Reis
Yasseen Hassan Abduluhy Omar
2018 Pilot Project: Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society.
Aspects of this project are also supported through J. Rowland's project with the Newton
Institutional Links – 'Egypt's Earliest Heritage'.
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