Redazione Archaeogate, 01-12-2010
Kathryn A. Bard and Rodolfo Fattovich, editors
With contributions by:
Ksenija Borojevic, Andrea D'Andrea, Duncan FitzGerald, Rainer Gerisch, Christopher Hein, Giancarlo Iannone, Dixie Ledesma, Elsayed Mahfouz, Andrea Manzo, Sally Wallace-Jones, Cheryl Ward, Howard Wellman and Chiara Zazzaro
In December 2009-January 2010 the Archaeological Expedition of the University of Naples "l'Orientale" (UNO), Naples, and Italian Institute for Africa and Orient (IsIAO), Rome, in collaboration with Boston University (BU), Boston (USA) conducted the ninth field season at the site of Mersa/Wadi Gawasis, Red Sea, under the direction of Prof. Rodolfo Fattovich (UNO/IsIAO), and Prof. Kathryn A. Bard (BU). The team in the field included Italian, American, Egyptian, British, and German personnel with different areas of specialization (archaeology, nautical archaeology, epigraphy, geology, paleoethnobotany, topography). Mr. Abdel Ghafar Abdelmoneim Mohamed represented the Supreme Council of Antiquities in the field, and greatly supported the work there.
The site is located 23 km to the south of the modern port of Safaga, on the top and along the slopes of a fossil coral terrace, to the west of which is the lower Wadi Gawasis (Figure 1). Earlier excavations at the site along the western slope of the terrace provided good evidence of the use of Mersa/Wadi Gawasis as the pharaonic port for voyages to Punt in the Middle Kingdom and the early New Kingdom.
In 2009-2010 the fieldwork included geological and archaeological investigations, laser scanning of structures along the western wall of the coral terrace, and a conservation program.
Geological investigations were also conducted in the wadi bed and confirmed the hypothesis that ca. 4000 years ago the lower Wadi Gawasis was a large lagoon with an open channel to the sea.
Archaeological excavations were conducted along the western and southern slopes of the fossil coral terrace. Two areas were also investigated at the base of the western terrace slope. A 10 m x 4 m transect was excavated at the base of the southern slope of the terrace in the harbor area where only scattered 12th Dynasty potsherds were found, as well as some evidence of a burnt ship timber plank.
A new rock-cut chamber (Cave 8), 5.0 m x 4.8 m in area was found at top of the slope of the western terrace. An inscribed stela recording an expediton to Bia-Punt (the "Mine of Punt"), in Year 2 of the reign of Senusret II, was found outside the entrance to this chamber. The ceramics associated with this chamber and an outside living floor date to the early-mid 12th Dynasty.
At the base of the western slope, in an area below Cave 8, a dump area with ceramics dating to the 12th Dynasty and a Middle Kingdom activity area were recorded.
One test pit was also excavated inside Cave 2, which was discovered in 2004-2005, and confirmed that this gallery-cave was also used as a workshop for cleaning ship timbers.
Two huge blades of ship-rudder, ca. 4 m long, were also recorded ouside the entrance of Cave 6, which was discovered in 2006-2007.
Systematic mapping of the western wall of the coral terrace and Cave 8 was conducted with a laser scanner in order to generate a 3-D model of the area.
Conservation of several excavated ship timbers was also completed.
Members of the expedition were: Kathryn Bard, Rodolfo Fattovich, Andrea D'Andrea, Duncan FitzGerald, Rainer Gerisch, Christopher Hein, Giancarlo Iannone, Dixie Ledesma, Elsayed Mahfouz, Mohhamed Mustafa, Andrea Manzo, Pasquale Musella, John Wallace-Jones, Sally Wallace-Jones, Cheryl Ward, Howard Wellman, Stefano Tilia, and Chiara Zazzaro.
Please find the complete text of the Final Report Mersa/Wadi Gawasis 2009-2010 in attachment