Latest news from the sites


April 2016

Winter 2015-2016 draws to a close with a round of get-togethers and publications.

As with every year, we have welcomed our colleagues Elizabeth and Mieczyslaw Rodziewicz. Elizabeth and Fatiha Bouzidi have been finalising the layout of a new and ambitious volume in the Antiquités Alexandrines series dedicated to sculpted bone and ivory objects, a craft that was one of Alexandria’s specialities from the foundation of the city until the Islamic era (fig. 1). Mike has been collaborating in this work with his remarkable illustrations and has also been deep into a study of painted ceramics from Alexandria.

Fig. 1: Upper part of a bone doll from the Lux site. Beginning of the Islamic period. M. Rodziewicz, © CEAlex/CNRS

lexicon eponym dies 3 Gonca and Kaan Şenol visited with their students for a month of study that took in both preparing publications and examining material. Volume 3 of the Lexicon of Rhodian Eponyms (fig. 2) is now being printed and a book dedicated to the complete amphorae of the Graeco-Roman Museum is ready for publication. As part of our collaboration with the above museum, a new batch of amphora stamps has been transported to the archaeological storehouse at Shallalat and examination has begun. Already more than 3,000 of the 12,000 have been registered, described and documented. They join the 100,000 that have already been examined. This grand study gives us a new way of writing the history of trade in wine and oil across the Mediterranean in the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Moreover, it will lead to a more precise chronology of the Greek cities of Rhodes, Cnidus and Chios, which stamped their amphorae, and more generally will provide tools for the dating of the archaeological strata in which the stamps are unearthed in excavations throughout the ancient world.

Cécile Harlaut has completed her study of the origins of Alexandrian ceramics and her articles with John Hayes on a series of homogenous assemblages of well-dated ceramics of the early Hellenistic period (fig. 3). These will provide novel information regarding the habits and customs of the first inhabitants of Alexandria and its region: what were the ceramics that they brought with them, how did the first attempts at manufacturing vases “à la grecque” come about, what were the contacts with local potters.

Fig. 3: Krater of local production from the Cricket Ground excavations.
Second quarter of the 3rd century BC, © CEAlex/CNRS

Other teams have also participated with us this winter. Laurent Borel and Samuel Dessoutter, accompanied by Delphine Dixneuf and Frédéric Bauden, have clarified the construction and development phases of the El-Nabih cistern and have set about the publication of this exceptional monument. Sandrine Dubourg and Hélène Silhouette, along with Cécile Harlaut, are studying the wealthy houses of the early Hellenistic period that were revealed during the excavations of the Cricket Ground, not far from the Royal Palace quarter.

The presence of these visitors provided an opportunity to review progress in the ANR CeramEgypt programme, which combines ceramological studies with physico-chemical and petrographic analyses conducted by the team of the CEAlex materials analysis lab, in the search for definitions of the characteristics of ancient ceramic workshops (fig. 4).


Fig. 4 : Macrograph of a fragment alluvial ceramic under petrographic study.
Assem Bahnassy, © CEAlex/CNRS

In the month of January 2016, and with the support of the French Foreign Ministry, the CEAlex opened a new excavation site at Kom Bahig some 45 km west of Alexandria (fig. 5).

Fig. 5 : The Bahig site, seen from the north.
J.-Y. Empereur, © CEAlex/CNRS

Initial investigations on this untouched site of 17 hectares have revealed ceramic material indicating a very long occupation, beginning at least in the 7th century BC and continuing until the end of antiquity. The topographic team of the CEAlex were engaged on this large site from mid-January and the excavation proper began on 28 February under the supervision of Georges Soukiassian. The archaeological operation will be combined with an “excavation school” aimed at inspectors of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and students of Alexandria University.

etudes alexandrines 33

An edition of the periodical Dossiers d’archéologie dedicated to Alexandria appeared at the beginning of March (fig. 6). For 25 years the land and underwater excavations of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the Centre d’Études Alexandrines have enriched our knowledge of the ancient city. This has sometimes been in a rather punctual manner for the overall urban context, given the very nature of salvage excavations, but in a much more detailed way for the Pharos, the principal sanctuaries, habitation and also the necropoleis and the water supply. Certain exceptional discoveries, such as the colossal statues of the Ptolemies at the foot of Qaitbay Fort, the richly coloured mosaic pavements from all periods of antiquity, and even the statuettes of cats and children unearthed from the votive deposits of the Boubasteion have provided new material with which to write the history of this Mediterranean capital. To this can be added the research into the production and trade in ceramics and amphorae and studies of Ptolemaic coinage.

Fig. 6 : Couverture du Dossier d’archéologie 374, Mars/Avril 2016

This history is extended both spatially with explorations of Alexandria’s hinterland, thanks to the ANR Geomar programme, and chronologically with the interest shown in medieval and Ottoman Alexandria. All of these aspects are covered in this edition of Dossiers d’Archéologie. See below for the table of contents:

M.-D. Nenna, Alexandrie, Des siècles d’histoire urbaine

M.-D. Nenna, Deux siècles d’archéologie à Alexandrie

I. Hairy, L’eau dans la ville

I. Hairy, Le phare, lumière d’un empire sur le monde

M. Abdel Aziz, M. el-Sayed, I. Hairy, Ph. Soubias, Le Phare, un site immergé
S. Dubourg, L’architecture des riches demeures d’Alexandrie

H. Silhouette, Les maisons hellénistiques du Cricket Ground

P. Rifa Abou el Nil, Les maisons romaines du théâtre Diana

M. Abd el-Maksoud, A. Abd el-Fattah, M. Seif el-Din, Le Boubasteion, un lieu de culte populaire

M.-C. Bruwier, Sur les traces de l’Éleusis d’Alexandrie
J.-Y. Empereur, Un temple pour César, le Césareum

M.-D. Nenna, La ville et ses défunts, les nécropoles d’Alexandrie

A.-M. Guimier-Sorbets, A. Pelle, M. Seif el-Din, Renaître avec Osiris et Perséphone

O. Picard, Th. Faucher, Un nouveau système de compte, les monnaies lagides

P. Ballet, La céramique, productions locales et importations

V. Pichot, La campagne alexandrine

K. Machinek, Alexandrie médiévale, une grande ville du Proche-Orient

M. Abd el-Maguid, Les découvertes récentes du service des Antiquités

M. Rezq, Une nouvelle mosaïque à décor mythologique

Marie-Dominique Nenna
Director of Research, CNRS
Director, CEAlex

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