The Tell Edfu Project
Dr. Nadine Moeller, Field Director
The remains of what once had been the provincial capital of the 2nd Upper Egyptian nome can be found at Tell Edfu, which is one of the best well-preserved ancient towns in Egypt. The continuous occupation over several millennia led to the constant build up of settlement layers which created an artificial mound or a tell of considerable height. Tell Edfu is one of the rare examples where almost three thousand years of ancient Egyptian history are still preserved in the stratigraphy of a single site and therefore provides an enormous potential for increasing our understanding of ancient urbanism in Egypt, a topic that is still poorly understood since it relies almost entirely on archaeological data. There are only very few ancient Egyptian settlement sites currently accessible and even fewer have been excavated and published. The past excavation seasons (2005-2010) at Tell Edfu have focused along the eastern part of the tell which yielded evidence for the early administrative center of the town. So far we excavated a small part of this area and the first results already proved to be spectacular such as the large grain silos that are so far unique in the archaeological record in Egypt. For the first time it has been possible to discover archaeological settlement remains that complement the abundant textual sources dealing with the complex system of administration. Not surprisingly it seems that texts and archaeology do not always tell the same story! At Tell Edfu we have the chance to gather completely new archaeological data for the study of an important urban center in southern Egypt and its development during the whole pharaonic period. Urbanism and settlement studies dealing with ancient Egypt are very rare and this stands in sharp contrast to other regions in the Near East where the exploration of tell sites is a common phenomenon. Thus, the Tell Edfu Project has a significant impact on our knowledge of Egyptian urbanism in general.