Posts Tagged ‘Standing Wall Island’

Final check-in from Standing Wall Island

Posted on Apr 3, 2015

by Kirk Roberts (archaeologist)

As work on site draws to a close at Standing Wall Island (SWI), Field School 3 have begun the work of painstakingly recording, photographing and drawing all of the archaeological remains that we can see. What began as an open space surrounded by a few stone walls, is now clearly recognizable as a building, with an entranceway, corridor, and rooms featuring a range of activity and storage areas. As our understanding of the site has grown, though, so have our questions about it!

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Reham and Ayman (field-school students) hard at work. View to the North. Photo by Y. Mahmoud.

It is now clear that SWI was not a simple structure built as one event, but rather a large, imposing building which was gradually re-built and expanded, until it encompassed the large enclosure wall which is such a characteristic feature of the site. Within the building were a series of large, regular rooms accessible only via a single narrow doorway on to the outside. Privacy and security were very important elements in the design of the building – many of the rooms can only be accessed via narrow winding entrances, sometimes with screening walls to prevent people from seeing inside.… READ MORE »


I belong to the Field School Group 2

Posted on Mar 2, 2015

By Samar Mahmoud (Field School Student, Inspector of the Ministry of Antiquities)

Firstly, let me seize the opportunity to express my feeling about joining such a great field school with the well-organized team held by AERA.

I am a member of the Field School Group 2 team along with Dan, Essam, Hazem, Nehad, Debra and Mohamed. Together we are carrying on the analysis of the Standing Wall Island (SWI) area of the Heit el-Ghurab (HeG) site at Giza. We start work at 7am and the first thing we do is go to the storeroom to get the equipment we need for the day. When we walk to the storeroom Debra takes photos of us, the sky, or horses.

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AERA 2015 Field School Group 2. Standing (from left to right) Essam, me, Nehad, Debra, Hazem, Mohamed, and Dan (sitting). Photo by Yasser Mahmoud.

There are three groups in the 2015 AERA field school. Group 1 is working away from us in an area called AA-South which is next to the very interesting Pedestal Building. Field School Group 3 are our neighbors and also working in Standing Wall Island (SWI).

Standing Wall Island is at the southern end of the HeG site west of the “Abu el Hol Sports Club” and within the southern tip of the western town of HeG.… READ MORE »


The Riddle of Standing Wall Island

Posted on Feb 8, 2015

by Kirk Roberts (archaeologist)

It’s the first week on site, and the AERA team is excited to be back at Standing Wall Island (SWI). This year, a team of Egyptian students will be working in the Eastern part of this intriguing area, and trying to understand how this enigmatic island of archaeology fits in with the houses, streets and galleries that make up the rest of the site. Unusually, this large, walled enclosure features rounded corners – elements that point towards the management of animals. Previous work by our animal bone expert Dr. Richard Redding, has suggested that the area may have functioned as a cattle corral, and this exciting possibility means that SWI may help us to understand how Heit el-Ghurab was provisioned with meat – an important food resource for which we find abundant evidence. This year, we will test this theory by carefully targeting excavations to look for evidence that might point towards the area having been used as a stock enclosure.

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Field School Team 3 begin the work of clearing Standing Wall Island (SWI),
view to the North. Photo by Kirk Roberts.

When the team got to the site last week, we were confronted with a thick mass of weeds and plant-life.… READ MORE »


The AERA 2015 Field Season Begins!

Posted on Jan 30, 2015

A Season of Migration to the South

By Ana Tavares (joint Field-Director)

Gradually the team assembles at Giza for the 2015 excavation season. For most of us, this involves travelling south – away from cold weather, storms and snow. It is wonderful to be back in the warmth of the Giza plateau.

We have been preparing for the season for weeks; assembling equipment, organizing documentation, surveying the excavation grid, cleaning the site from vegetation, and removing the protective layer of sand (backfill) which protects the mud brick ruins in between excavation seasons. We also prepared manuals, lectures and equipment for the field-school students. Field-schools are an important component of AERA’s fieldwork and this year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the AERA/ARCE field-school. We would like to assemble alumnae from all over Egypt and celebrate with a party towards the end of the season!

Surveying the excavation grid. Virag sets up the reflector helped by Shaltout. Photo by Kirk Roberts.

Surveying the excavation grid. Virag sets up the reflector helped by Shaltout. Photo by Kirk Roberts.

Beer and Meat
The site work also takes us south. This season we are back in the Heit el-Ghurab settlement, investigating two areas in the southern part of the site. These areas are named AA-south and SWI (for Standing Wall Island).… READ MORE »


Volunteering Time At Giza

Posted on May 18, 2011

Posted by Steve LaPidus

I have spent the last six weeks as a volunteer on the AERA Giza Plateau Project with some of the most interesting and knowledgeable people I have ever met. I went on a site tour set up for the team early on in the schedule. We had a chance to walk through the sites, to listen to presentations and to ask questions on the project’s operations. It was easy to understand why there was a requirement by the Egyptian Government and AERA to submit your security paperwork six months in advance. It is obvious how much thought goes into the selection of the team members because there are multiple openings on the project and for each opening, there is a specific expert with just the right background and interest.

Site tour. Photo by Hilary McDonald

For the first five weeks, I shared a local apartment with a Swedish human osteologist Johnny (“Bones” for all of you who watch the TV show). He explained to me how he reviewed the excavated burials and drew the skeletons while determining the sex, age at death and whether there was any obvious disease before he had to remove the bones quickly as they easily crumbled apart if left for too long.… READ MORE »


How to Draw Large Limestone Walls

Posted on Feb 23, 2011

Posted by Yasser Mahmoud

We were excited to begin drawing Standing Wall Island’s “jumble of limestone and mud brick walls” (SWI) (see Simon Davis’ “Standing Wall Island” blog post). In the beginning we couldn’t believe ourselves to be honest, because this is the first time for the Egyptian drawing team to draw such extensive walls, containing thousands of pieces of limestone and other cultural material.

Drawing Team SWI

Drawing Team at work on fieldstone wall (photo by Hillary McDonald)

Yasser climbing the tower at SWI

Yasser Mahmoud on a light tower to take and aerial photo of SWI (photo by Hillary McDonald)

The difficulty in drawing this type of structure lies in the position of the stones, because they are located at many different levels and are interwoven with each other. Creating an accurate map is very difficult. After a week, however, I can say that we can now teach the others team members how to approach this type exercise, and accurately map the walls.

One such method is to use a wooden planning frame (a meter-square) that is subdivided with nylon string into10 or 20 cm squares, thus dividing the planning frame into 100 or 25 segments. The planning frame must be laid horizontally on the ground and we use the rocks to prop up the frame, until the planning frame is level.… READ MORE »


Standing Wall Island

Posted on Feb 7, 2011

Posted by Simon Davis

Two weeks down, five to go and we haven’t even started digging yet!

Well actually three weeks down now as we spent the last week under curfew and not able to work.

We are at the end of our second week of work at Standing Wall Island (SWI) and what appeared at first to be a discreet jumble of stone and mudbrick walls is fast transforming itself into an archaeological site (amazing what a bit of site grid can do!). Our aim, to uncover the previous recording work carried out by AERA back in 2004 to try and work out how SWI fits into the rest of the plateau complex that sprawls out to the north.

The site literally is an island, a raised bank of sand that emerges out of two muddy lagoons flanking it to the north and south. These lagoons until a few years ago contained standing water and the ‘Island’ is only recently available for excavation again. It’s not only physically separated from the rest of the site but the standing walls lie on a slightly different alignment to the rest of the settlement complex. A missing piece of the jigsaw then? Well maybe and tempting to suggest, but it’s certainly worthy of a second look.… READ MORE »


Welcome to the 2011 Giza season

Posted on Jan 27, 2011

Posted by Mohsen Kamel and Ana Tavares, joint-Field Directors

We have just started excavations again at Giza, after a hiatus last year. During this busy hiatus we prepared material for publications, held an Analysis and Publication Field-School in Giza and a second Salvage Archaeology Field-School in Luxor.

This season we are excavating in both concession areas at Giza – the Workers Settlement (a.k.a the Lost City, a.k.a. Heit el-Ghurab) and the town of Queen Khentkawes. Both sites date from the mid 4th Dynasty (circa 2529 -2471 B.C.) although the town of Queen Khentkawes and the village inside the Valley Temple of Menkaure seem to have functioned until the end of the Old Kingdom (late 6th Dynasty, circa 2154 B.C. Click here for more information on how we date the site). The main research questions for this season are the ancient landscape (the southern and eastern approaches to the site), climate change and site formation (especially the process of dismantling, robbing and erosion). The four excavation areas all contribute evidence to these questions. After 10 somewhat boring days of removing the protective sand covering we put in place at the end of our last season we are finally ready to excavate!

Lost City

In the Heit el-Ghurab site we have opened two excavation areas: SFW House 1 and Standing Wall Island (“The Island” for short).… READ MORE »