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Notes on the work of the CEA
January to June 2001
- Jean Yves Empereur, Director of Research, CNRS
- Director of the Centre d'Etudes Alexandrines.
Throughout the first
six months of 2001, the CEA continued its land excavations :
- on the Fouad Street site where,
at some 7 metres depth, late Roman layers have been reached set amongst cisterns,
basins and water channelling. A rich collection of artefacts has been unearthed
both from the intact layers (notably of the mameluke era) and from land fill.
(Excavation financed by France Telecom.)
- the salvage excavation of the former Lux garage,
site of the Caesareum temple, has been prolonged and the dig has revealed
a medieval Christian necropolis in an area that would have been within the
Toulounid walls. (Excavation financed by television channel France2.) In the
deepest part of the site, which has been rather brutally emptied out by the
developer's bulldozers, there remain the vestiges of a building that once
bore a moulded stucco coffer ceiling decorated with flowers and oves and dating
at least to the first centuries AD.
- in collaboration with Mr Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Director
General of Antiquities for the West Delta, the excavation of a vast cistern
has begun. The operation aims to clear the relatively well preserved superstructure
of the monument - a rare opportunity in Alexandria - and to empty the interior
which consists of arcades of columns with re-employed ancient capitals. This
dig is part of an ongoing study of the cisterns of Alexandria which has already
produced tangible results in the understanding of the water supply system
of the Ptolemaic capital town.
In March 2001, we were able to remove
the 150-odd modern blocks of concrete (each one weighing some 20 tons) that
covered a sizeable part of the sunken ancient site at the foot of Qaitbay
Fort. Within the new area opened up to the archaeologists we can already make
out a series of huge architectural elements as well as fragments of legs that
may complete the colossal statues of Ptolemies and their queens that have been
lifted during previous campaigns.
A laboratory for the treatment
of metal vestiges has been set up at Shallalat in the building that houses artefacts
unearthed during the CEA digs. It is equipped with modern material and is also
open to other archaeological missions working in the region.
And lastly, the publication
of the Etudes Alexandrines series continues with the appearance of Volume
5 dedicated to the Necropolis (IFAO Press).