Mersa Gawasis (Red Sea - Egypt): UNO/IsIAO and BU 2003-2004 Field Season under direction of Rodolfo Fattovich and Kathryn Bard
Redazione Archaeogate, 18-10-2004 Pag. 3 di 10
Archaeology WG 20, WG 23
WG 20: This excavation unit, which was 12 m x 14 m in area, investigated a stone structure (Feature 4), which was already partially excavated by Abdel Monem Sayed in the mid-1970s and was later damaged by recent human activity (see Fattovich et al. 2003). It was excavated by Rodolfo Fattovich and Andrea Manzo.
Excavation demonstrated that this feature was originally a roughly oval enclosure with an inner small horseshoe-shaped stone structure, which was built later than the enclosure (Fig. 4). Both the enclosure and the stone structure opened to the east. The main east-west axis of the enclosure was about 10-12 m long. Several postholes were found inside the enclosure.
The plan and construction are different from those of other structures in the same area, e.g., Features 6 and 8 (see Fattovich et al. 2003). No flat conglomerate slabs were used in this structure, and the enclosure and inner chamber were built with pieces of coral. The occurrence of limestone fragments, most likely from an anchor, in a hole near the entry of the enclosure suggests that the structure was related to a maritime activity. Only a few potsherds dating to Middle Kingdom were collected in this structure.
The structure at WG 20 can be compared to the Hathor shrine in the village of miners at Gebel Zeit, which was built in the New Kingdom on an earlier Middle Kingdom structure. The Middle Kingdom structure consisted of an oval enclosure with a small chamber located in the western part (Castel, Gout & Soukassian 1984-1985; Castel & Soukassian 1989). If the Mersa Gawasis structure was also a shrine, the postholes inside the enclosure might have been used for banners or symbols of a god.
WG 23: This excavation unit, which was 6 m x 6 m in area, investigated a structure (Feature 6) that had already been partially excavated by Sayed in the mid-1970s. It was excavated by Andrea Manzo.
The structure was an oval-shaped cairn made of pieces of coral, possibly with an opening and a small chamber made of slabs and pieces of coral to the east. On its main axis the cairn was about 6.0-7.0 m long. A few scattered slabs of conglomerate stone were visible on the surface.
The 2003-2004 excavation demonstrated that this structure, though similar in plan to Feature 8 excavated in 2002-2003 (see Fattovich et al. 2003), was constructed in a different way (Fig. 5). Both structures were cairns inside of which were two small chambers built with vertical slabs of conglomerate stone. In both chambers of Feature 6 there was no evidence of paving-stones, such as those in Feature 8, and the floor of Feature 6 consisted of the natural surface of the terrace on which the structure was built. In Feature 6 the cairn was constructed with pieces of coral and conglomerate stone, while in Feature 8 the cairn was constructed with gravel and pieces of coral. In both structures the cairn included fragments of limestone, shells, potsherds, and other materials. In Feature 6 Pteroceras shells, fragments of wood and limestone, and a few potsherds were mixed with the pieces of coral. In Feature 8 shells, limestone chips, and potsherds were mixed with the cairn gravel.
The eastern chamber of Feature 6, ca. 1.0 m x 1.8 m in area, opened to the east. An inscribed stela had probably been erected in this chamber, as a memorial to a maritime expedition. A complete anchor of limestone was found under (and partially covered by) the chamber's southern wall of conglomerate stone, near the entrance. The anchor is 60 cm long and 40 cm wide, with a rounded top in which a circular hole and groove for a rope are carved. A square hole is carved near the anchor's flat base (Fig. 6). Another anchor, which is still visible on the surface, was found by Sayed in the mid-1970s. The second anchor was probably originally placed symmetrical to the one still in situ, near the entrance of the eastern chamber. In front of the entrance of the eastern chamber a small hearth and a concentration of potsherds were found. This feature may be the remains of offerings or other ceremonial activities, which were performed near the structure.
The western chamber of Feature 6 had no entry and was damaged. A small round, empty hole in the floor may have been used for a foundation deposit, or for a ceremonial pole.
All of the ceramics in and around Structure 6 date to the Middle Kingdom.
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Mersa Gawasis (Red Sea - Egypt): UNO/IsIAO and BU 2003-2004 Field Season
Complete bowl from WG 17
Complete oven at WG 17
Plan of the structure at WG 20
Plan of the structure at WG 23
Complete anchor at the entrance of the eastern chamber, WG 23
Profile at WG 18
Nubian-like potsherd from WG 18 SU 14
Types of ceramic rims and bases from Mersa Gawasis
Concentration of shells, fish bones, and crab remains from WG 18, SU 14 lev. 2
A tuyère from WG 19