Finally got back from Antinoupolis to Luxor on 5th March, after a great season in the field with Jay Heidel. The Italian mission from the University of Florence closed the dig accommodation on the morning, and we took a micro bus up on to the desert edge through Deir Abu Hines and Deir el Bershar, then south along the desert road, around the Qena bend in the Nile and down to the bright lights of Luxor.
The drive and the last day or so at Chicago House have given the team time to reflect on the season and some of the results. The application of the magnetometry has been useful in mapping both the necropolis and parts of the city, and maps of the site will be produced in due course. It has also revealed the true nature of the necropolis, excavated in part by Gayet, but with no detailed plan of the site being produced. The nature of the deposits mean that we can produce a map of all of the mud- and fired-brick structures, hundreds of plinth tombs, chambers and associated features.
The survey has also highlighted the extent of current damage and modern development at the site. Part of the reason for the survey is to assess this and record the archaeological remains using non-intrusive methods for posterity. However there is still a massive amount to be done and a limited amount of time in which to record and potentially preserve the remains of the site.
Heading on to the desert edge along the Via Hadriana also broadens our understanding of the ancient city, and its economic importance, and the scale of the task which faced the architects and builders of Antinoupolis. On top of this is the continuation of settlement at the site in the Coptic and early medieval periods, and the reuse of material from the ancient city. The survey should allow some classification of zones of the city and its surrounding landscape based on the form of features and associated dating evidence, and to give a clearer indication of the Roman and later areas of burial in the necropolis.
The curse of blogging during a survey like this is that it is almost impossible to display results of the work as it is carried out. Results need to be reported to the authorities before they can be made available, and this means a collection of nice photos of areas of the site, and textual description of the finds, but nothing more. The survey and excavation work by the Antinoupolis Foundation has been going on for a few years now, and the results of last year’s survey are in the public domain, so here are links to the first two newsletter of the project. This gives a clear idea of the project’s aims, and a look at some of the preliminary survey work and survey of architectural fragments at the city.
In addition we published a short paper in the newsletter for the International Society for Archaeological Prospection (ISAP) in 2012. If you are in to archaeological survey and geophysics, then you really ought to join up at http://www.brad.ac.uk/archsci/archprospection/. The link to the paper on the survey is here.