Thursday, February 12, 2015

Progress in the Pyramid

Excavators in the inner room under the pyramid: El Haj, Ashari, Ghazafi, and Jaffar Madani
The area of massive rock collapse is visible as multi-colored stone;
the brown-yellow stone below is the Nubian sandstone that forms the original back wall of the chamber

We are continuing to have a very difficult internet connection, but this is not stopping us from digging! We have hired 110 local men—this is quite unusual for modern archaeological projects in which detailed recording is important. However our excavations in all areas involve moving large quantities of recent geological sediment—sand washed and blown in to underground rooms, primarily, but also covering ancient settlement.

We are making progress in three areas of Kurru pyramid 1, which is almost certainly dated to about 350 BC—right at the end of what is called the Napatan dynasty in Nubia, and just before the invasion of Alexander the Great into Egypt (and elsewhere!).

The group of workmen in the inner burial chamber have removed a 1-meter-thick layer of rock over the top of the chamber and 2 meters of washed in sand, leaving about 1.5 meters of sediment above the floor of the burial chamber. We’ve found a few potsherds in the upper fill, but not much material. If other royal tombs of this date are any guide, we may find a stone coffin bench in the middle of the floor and a niche that would originally have contained an inscribed stele at the back of the room. Whether we will find these things or any material traces of a royal burial itself remains to be seen!

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