Latest news from the sites

Jean-Yves Empereur
Director of CEAlex
August 2011

Six months have passed since the events of January 25th. While the entire country awaits the elections planned for autumn, the situation in the field of archaeology has settled down, with a return to the pre-revolutionary status quo: the short-lived Ministry of Antiquities has disappeared and the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) has reappeared, no longer under the Ministry of Culture but answering directly to the prime minister. On the ground the situation varies depending on the region, and as a function of not so much the SCA but rather decisions made by the security forces as to whether archaeologists can or cannot get on with their projects. In Alexandria, we have not experienced any problems until now and, with the support of our colleagues in the SCA, the digs continue both in town and on the south bank of Lake Mariout.

Our collaboration with the representatives of the SCA continues to develop harmoniously and we are hoping some time during the year 2012 to set up the school of excavations that everyone seems so keen on. In the meantime, our efforts are moving towards opening a ceramology school in order to train those who operate the sites, the SCA inspectors, over several months of the year. This will fall within the framework of the Franco-German programme, Ceramalex, financed by the National Research Agency (ANR).

I would like to thank once again our supervisory authorities: the CNRS for the financial and human resources that it provides us with. This support is continuing and indeed increasing. We look forward to the 1st December of this year when we will welcome a new collaborator dedicated to the conception and follow up of our projects, both European and other, in order to ensure the material and financial means required for the pursuit and development of our endeavours. The Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs has provided financial support for the excavations at Marea, some 50km from Alexandria to the south of Lake Mariout, and we will begin a new campaign this autumn. Roughly 1km south of this site, we are planning to open a new excavation centring on an amphora workshop that is part of a complex installation including canalisations, a sakieh, wine press etc. This will be a Franco-Turkish dig involving the SCA, the University of Izmir and the CEAlex. And lastly, we are launching joint programmes with IFAO, notably with regard to ANR projects, as well as a proposal to Equipex

The preparation of exhibitions moves apace. The mosaic restoration programme advances and one can see here a recent image of the 3rd century AD Nilotic mosaic after restoration by the CEAlex team led by Hana Tewfick. The exhibition concentrating on everyday life to be held in Geneva from 4th December 2013 is coming together. It will present Alexandrian dining rooms with their mosaic flooring and related archaeological material. As for the exhibition Du Nil à Alexandrie, its installation within the Musée de Tessé at Le Mans is underway and inauguration will be on 25th November of this year. A second edition of the catalogue, revised and enlarged by the scientific curator of the exhibition, Isabelle Hairy, will be published for the occasion.

The restored Nilotic mosaic from Thmouis with the CEAlex mosaic conservation team as led by Hana Tewfick.. Photo J. -Y. Empereur, © Cealex.

It is summer here in Alexandria with, as usual, the thermometer hovering between 30 and 35° Celsius, but neither the heat nor Ramadan is hampering the excavations. In the district of Smouha, as part of an operation commissioned and financed by the Musée de Mariemont, CEAlex archaeologist Francis Choël, in collaboration with the museum’s director, Marie-Cécile Bruwier, is unearthing an important monument with granite colonnades. This phase is Roman, but more ancient, re-used blocks can be distinguished. Is this part of Eleusis that Mahmoud el-Falaki and 19th century travellers situated at this location?

New publications

Volume 20 of the collection Études Alexandrines has rolled off the IFAO presses and is entitled Alexandrie ottomane 1, by Michel Tuchscherer and Maria Pia Pedani. It contains a decree from Suleiman the Magnificent sent in September 1528 to the Ottoman authorities in Alexandria renewing the commercial privileges that the previous Mameluke sultan had accorded in 1507 to the French and Catalans established in Alexandria. This document, entirely in Arabic and until now only known to us through partial translations, is the first tangible sign of a Franco-Ottoman rapprochement and the beginnings of a long-lasting French policy in the eastern Mediterranean. The second contribution concentrates on relations between Venice and the Muslim states. Beginning with a review of the organisation of the Venetian consular network in Muslim territory, it looks at commercial relations between Venice and the eastern Mediterranean, most particularly as regarding Alexandria and Aleppo. Thereafter, some thirteen end of mission reports from Venetian consuls are presented, covering a period from 1554 to 1664. These are now held in the Archivio di Stato in Venice.
This volume can be ordered from the IFAO website:

Another volume appeared at the beginning of this month: Delphine Dixneuf, Amphores égyptiennes. Production, typologie, contenu et diffusion (iiie avant J.-C.-ixe après J.-C.). This work, which can be previewed via the attached flash, is available in Egypt from the premises of the CEAlex and for other countries through the distribution network Boccard from the beginning of September.

Four other volumes are under press, two with IFAO (Hélène Fragaki and Sandrine Élaigne, both previously announced), and two with CEAlex. Of these latter, one is on Pamphylian amphora stamps by Claude Brixhe, and the other contains the proceedings of the fourth Medieval Alexandria conference. These publications will be available towards the end of 2011.

One can find a presentation of all these titles and the progress of our research through the sites and

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