Monday, 11 January 2010

Moalla and the Lost City of Hefat – Colleen Manassa

I might have misled people last week saying this lecture was going to by about Ankhtifi and it wasn’t but it put him and Moalla in context in Egyptian history. There is a very good website but Colleen said to ignore the part about the town site as she has changed her conclusions and the website has not yet been updated. I must admit I do like being on the edge of new thoughts and discoveries like this.

Moalla is situated about 40 kilometres south of Luxor where the gebel (mountain) descends to the Nile. It is between El Kab/Hierakonpolis and Luxor so has been neglected archaeology as teams have concentrated on these two sites. It is the third nome of Egypt and famous for the tomb of Ankhtifi which was originally published in 1950 and is currently being excavated by Liverpool University under Mark Collier.

Her study area is the area outside a necropolis of 2 kilometres with 1000 tombs dating from the Vth and VIth dynasty until the XVIII dynasty. There are considerable Nubian burials from the second intermediate period. Some of site has been lost to recent quarrying.

There are model vessels littering the site (there are quite a few examples here the tombs were plundered in antiquity but there is a lot of surface ceramics. There is quite a range of lower status burials in the area with funerary goods replacing offering chapels. There were 3-4 pre dynastic pots from Nagada II period but they were unable to associate them with a particular burial. Other ceramics were examples of Medium bowls, predecessors of Ankhtifi, First intermediate Period, and Middle Kingdom. As well as ceramics they found MK soul houses or platters again lower class funerary goods. These are similar to the discoveries at Rifeh

In the H3 area which is a low spur of the gebel Pan Graves were found. This grave type has been associated with the Medjay from 1600-1550BC these were auxiliary troops that were used in the war against the Hyskos. The graves look like shallow pans in cross section hence their nickname. A child’s tomb was lined with mud plaster. There are actually more of these grave types in Egypt than in Nubia. Moalla was a previously unknown site of these graves so the discovery has added to our knowledge of them. They were fond of leather and also their pottery has incised lines, the curved relief is unique to Egypt shown in figure one

Tomb 4 they found a skull and mandible which were very Nubian. There was matting on the bottom of the tomb which was made to fit the tomb. Tomb 5 had a reed and leather strip matting. Tomb 3 had leather clothing.

Some of the pottery was Egyptian, Tuthmoside bichrome.

Across the river is the site of Gebelian and there 2 stone blocks were found which dated to the Hyskos rulers. So was this area under Hyskos occupation? Current thinking is that the stones were spoil taken from the north.

So Moalla was of importance both to the first and second intermediate period/

At the northern end, area L there are some painted reliefs showing offering figures, a man in a boat. There are no remain glyphs making the reliefs hard to date but it looks like there is a small offering figure in front of the owner’s face and this style is common in the first intermediate period.

They have also been surveying the area of the Eastern desert; 12 km south there is a narrow area which encourages ancient graffiti on the rocks. They are trying to understand the geography of the area the cultivation strip at Moalla is much thinner than other close areas so a settlement site could not have been supported. Looking for the lost city of Hefat mentioned in Ankhtifi tomb we need to look where the cultivation thickens. It was a very important city and mentioned in the Onomasticon of Amenemope, using that document for clues they have a probable location but as the area is very built up it cannot be proved.

In the Eastern Desert roads have been found and she believes these could have been used as much as the Nile or even more for local traffic. There is a Nagada II shelter on the road. The largest collections of ceramics are found at the ascents of the road.

Next week Mark Lehner on Giza

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