Evidence and method

Evidence and method

ACRC research projects extend the use of texts in the medieval manuscript tradition to encompass other modes of evidence and methods of accessing the past.

Archaeology

ACRC teams carry out or participate in excavations, surveys, or recording missions at various sites across the Mediterranean, studying aspects of the art, sculpture, urbanism, temple, funerary, and monastic architecture at these locations.

Egypt

For full details of the teams working at the following sites, see here.

Beni Hassan

Director: Naguib Kanawati; Deputy Director: Alexandra Woods

The site of Beni Hassan was recorded and published by Newberry over a century ago and this record is the only one available to scholars apart from some published photographs taken in more recent times. The site is of immense importance to the study of the Middle Kingdom, both the Eleventh and Twelfth Dynasties, and contains the best preserved tombs of this period. The team is planning a re-publication of all tombs in the site, both in line drawings and coloured photographs. The first tomb to receive the attention of the ACE is that of Khnumhotep II of the Twelfth Dynasty. The tomb shows a magnificent architectural plan which includes a spectacular portico, a pillared chapel and a small shrine with the owner's statue. The wall scenes have retained a great deal of their colour and most certainly deserve a full coloured publication. They include many activities in the life of the tomb owner, perhaps the most important of which is the well-known arrival of Asiatics with their families. Work started on this tomb in 2010 and is continuing with the hope of a complete publication of the tomb within the next couple of years.

Helwan

Director: E. Christiana Koehler (University of Vienna); Deputy Director: Yann Tristant

A joint mission of Macquarie University and the University of Vienna is excavating at Helwan, located on the east bank of the Nile river c. 25 km south of Cairo, is the largest necropolis of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3300 - 2700 B.C.E.). During this time it served as the city of Memphis' main cemetery, primarily occupied by members of the lower and middle classes and thus it provides valuable evidence for the first phase of Pharaonic history. The Helwan Project's main aim is to excavate and investigate the physical remains of this population in order to further our understanding of the precise relative and absolute chronology of the period, its economy, administration, subsistence, funerary beliefs and overall material culture. To date, more than 170 archaeologically intact tombs have been excavated. They have already shed light on the complexities of the archaeological evidence as the site was continually occupied over hundreds of years and the tombs have been constructed, repeatedly reused and plundered throughout its occupation. Of particular interest so far has been the large amount of ceramic data, enabling the project to develop and refine a precise relative sequence for the tombs, the physical remains of the tombs' occupants providing insights into the overall demography and health of this population, as well as the variety of the architecture and non-ceramic artefacts, in particular inscribed material, that provide a solid foundation for the investigation of the above stated objectives.

Meir

Director: Naguib Kanawati; Deputy Director: Alexandra Woods

Excavations at the site of Meir are part of a project to produce a new record of Old and Middle Kingdom tombs at Meir and to study the family relationship of the tomb owners with special emphasis on the transition from the Old to the Middle Kingdom. While chapels were accessible, burial chambers had to be re-cleared and recorded. Those of Pepyankh-heryib and his wife Hewet-iaah are both beautifully decorated with well-preserved and colourful painted scenes. Special attention was also given to the recording of the chapel of Pepyankh-henykem, the grandson of Pepyankh-heryib. The scenes in the inner room of his chapel contain topics of utmost importance including the most complete funerary procession known from the Old Kingdom. The execution of different parts the scene was left at various stages of completion which allows us to study the Egyptian techniques of drawing and sculpturing. The four walls of the serdab are unusually decorated with repetitive representations of statues of the tomb owner.

Hagarsa

Director: Ken Parry; Deputy Director: Malcolm Choat

The project surveys hitherto unexamined remains of monastic communities on the West bank of the Nile near Sohag. This region is most famous for the so-called White Monastery of Shenoute, along with the Red Monastery, nearby to the North. Yet much remains to be explored in the region outside the remains of the Shenoutean monasteries. This project focuses on the previously undocumented monastic settlement at el-Hagasa, 5 km south of the White Monastery, where there are buildings on the valley floor and cells in the tombs and caves on the gebel above.

Tehna

Director: Elizabeth Thompson

The Old Kingdom cemetery at Tehna is approximately 250kms south of Cairo and 12kms north of the city of Minya. The cemetery is in the 16th nome of Upper Egypt called the Oryx nome and consists of 15 known tombs cut into the rock at the base of the eastern cliffs bordering the Nile. The cemetery is only known from a short article published in 1902 by George Fraser which dealt briefly with the major tombs and included hand sketches of some of the decorated walls. The site is of great importance for several reasons: the unusual architecture of the tombs, the detailed textual information inscribed in certain tombs including a rare legal document and clear dating evidence indicating that the tomb owners had been appointed to the province in the late Fourth and early Fifth dynasties. The majority of the tombs are in the form of rock cut mastabas possibly following the Memphite style of burials but rarely seen in the provinces. Inscriptions carved into the walls of the tomb of Nika-ankh I indicate that he was appointed to administer the estates of the temple of Hathor by King Userkaf and that an earlier relative had been previously sent to the province by King Menkaure. The walls of several tombs are carved in low relief and all contain engaged statues, some still showing traces of the original colour. Three seasons of work have already been undertaken to fully record the wall scenes and architecture of 8 tombs. The recording of the remaining tombs will continue.

Thebes

Director: Boyo Ockinga

The Macquarie Theban Tombs Project has been working in 2002 on the excavation and epigraphic recording of three New Kingdom tombs at Dra Abu El-Naga North: ? TT148: The tomb of the Third Prophet of Amun, Amenemope, of the reigns of Ramesses III-IV; ? TT233: The tomb of the Royal Scribe Saroy and his son Amenhotep, of the reign of Ramesses II; ? TT147: The tomb of the Scribe and Counter of the Cattle of Amun, Neferrenpet, of the reign of Amenhotep III. Important new data on each of these monuments has been recovered through the work of the project, in particular of a prospographical nature. In TT148, previously unknown family members of Amenemope have been identified, including a son and a daughter as well as an ancestor who lived two centuries earlier in the time of Tutankhamun. In TT233 it could be shown that the tomb was a double tomb intended for Saroy and his son and assistant Amenhotep. The owner of TT147, who name had been erased from the inscriptions in antiquity, could be identified as being Neferrenpet. A considerable amount of conservation work has also been done in the tombs, in particular in TT233 where large sections of the Broad Hall were reconstructed, enabling the tomb to be properly secured. In TT147 the walls, which had been covered by soot that obscured the painted wall decoration, were cleaned and conserved.

Abou Rawash

Director: Yann Tristant

Situated on the west bank of the Nile, 8km north-east of Giza, Abu Rawash is the most northerly site of the Memphite Necropolis region. The Abu Rawash area contains monuments and remains that include a broad spectrum of different periods, from the Early Dynastic to the Coptic Period. On the eve of the First World War, work by Pierre Montet on the Abu Rawash plateau led to the discovery of a 1st Dynasty elite cemetery. The M Cemetery is situated upon a prominent plateau 1.5km north-east of Radjedef's monument and featured a group of mastaba tombs with mud brick superstructures containing niched façades. After almost a century of abandonment, this cemetery is today the object of a project initiating a new phase in the study of this site by the IFAO. This site is an IFAO project in collaboration with Macquarie University. Further details may be found here.

Wâdî 'Araba

Director: Yann Tristant

Wâdî 'Araba is a dry valley that extends approximately 160km from Za'farana, on the Red Sea Coast, to the Nile Valley, north of Beni Suef. Visited by geologists and scholars during the 19th Century (Brunton, Schweinfurth, Figari, Fourtau, Ball), the region however, was never systematically investigated and remains an almost totally unknown territory. Wâdî 'Araba is significantly one of the only communication routes that connect Middle Egypt to the Gulf of Suez. Nevertheless, it is sadly the case that there are a limited amount of documents attesting to the unique archaeological and historical potential. The aims of this new archaeological survey are to provide new studies with regard to the use of desert tracks between the Nile Valley and the Sinai, a region in the Eastern Desert that had been exploited since Prehistory for its stone, gold and copper resources. This site is an IFAO project in collaboration with Macquarie University. For further information see here.

Italy

Carsulae

Director: Arianna Traviglia, Jaye McKenzie-Clark, and Karl Van Dyke

The Australian Carsulae Archaeological Project is investigating the ancient Roman town of Carsulae, situated along the via Flaminia in Umbria. Casulae has a 500 year history, founded c. 220 BC and ending c. AD 250 as the result of an earthquake. Apart from some initial excavation work undertaken in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and a small excavation currently working on the site of the Roman baths, this extensive site is untouched. Macquarie University has permission from the Superintendent of Archaeology in Umbria to carry out both geo-physical and surface pottery surveys in 2011, with the aim of locating areas of archaeological interest for this project to begin excavation work in 2012.

Epigraphy

ACRC members and associates work on graffiti and dipinti (the traditional distinction between inscribed and painted text respectively) at a number of sites across the Mediterranean world.

Frontier Technologies

The ACRC is a cross-disciplinary centre, which seeks to apply all available techniques to the study of the ancient world. To that end, centre members undertake projects using the latest technologies and scientific models to analyse ancient artefacts, and seek new collaborations with researchers in other fields studying the ancient world.

Analytical challenges with the analysis of heavily weathered bronze coins

CIs: Gore, Karl Van Dyke, Alanna Fernandes, Deb Kane, Justin Payne, Norman Pearson and John Bennett.

A spring of silver, a treasury in the earth: coinage and wealth in archaic Athens

CIs: K. Sheedy, D. Gore

This project studies the impact of locally mined silver on the public treasury of the Athenians, and thus on the developing political economy of this important city-state during the years c.550-480 BC, by examining its employment for the minting of coins.

Composition of authentic and non-authentic Roman glassware

CIs: D. Gore, Caroline Humphrey, Karl Van Dyke, Anne Rich and Helen Pask; Christopher Marjo (UNSW; Gary Pritchard (PANalytical).

Biomolecular composition of complex embalming 'recipes' in Egyptian prehistoric burials

CIs: Jana Jones (Ancient History, MQ), Ron Oldfield (Microscopy Unit, Biological Sciences, MQ), Dr Thomas Higham (Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Oxford University, UK), Prof. Terry P. O'Connell and Dr Stephen Buckley (Departments of Archaeology, Biology and Chemistry, University of York, UK).

Will the real mummy please step forward: dating ancient Egyptian human remains in museum collections

CIs: Karin Sowada, Geraldine Jacobsen (ANSTO)

Papyrology

Papyrological research has been carried out at Macquarie since the early 1970s under a variety of research programs. The Museum of Ancient Cultures holds the largest collection of papyri, parchment, and ostraca in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Macquarie Papyri Research and Development Committee oversees ongoing work publishing the collection. A number of research projects within the ACRC focus on papyrological evidence to study aspects of Graeco-Roman and late antique Egypt including the Greek language, monasticism, Coptic script, and Early Christianity in Egypt.

Numismatics

ACRC members carry out a number of projects using the evidence of ancient coins. In addition to that listed below, several other projects take place within the framework of the Australian Centre for Numismatic Studies.

A spring of silver, a treasury in the earth: coinage and wealth in archaic Athens

CIs: K. Sheedy, D. Gore

This project studies the impact of locally mined silver on the public treasury of the Athenians, and thus on the developing political economy of this important city-state during the years c.550-480 BC, by examining its employment for the minting of coins.

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