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egyptian world seminar 090512

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

Egyptian World seminar
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012

This week's seminar will take place at 5:45pm in the South Lecture Room of the Division of Archaeology on the Downing Site and will be followed by a drinks reception.

  1. Secrets from the Sediments: Geochemical and Micromorphological
    Characterizations of Industrial Activities at Kerma/Dokki Gel, North Sudan

    Paul van Pelt, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge (see below for abstract)

  2. From the Old Kingdom to the Middle Kingdom: Understanding Memphis
    landscapes using borehole sampling data

    Pedro Goncalves, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge

Secrets from the Sediments: Geochemical and micromorphological
Characterizations of Industrial Activities at Kerma/Dokki Gel, North Sudan

Over the past decade, soil science has come to play an essential role in archaeologists' toolkits as many human actions result in physical changes to soils as well as in the deposition of a range of chemical compounds. Although soil chemistry and micromorphology present promising tools for the investigation of human activities in anthrosols (i.e. any soil that has been modified profoundly by human activities) they suffer from one major drawback; they can only help interpret former function on archaeological sites when data is available from relevant functional analogues.

My research aims to further the archaeological application of geochemistry and micromorphology in the characterization of human activity areas through two strategies. The first is an ethno-archaeological study of modern residences and workshops, where human activities and use of space can be directly observed and compared with concentrations of soil chemical residues and physical changes to soils. The second strategy is the excavation of rapidly abandoned structures that contain rich assemblages of in situ objects in their loci of use.

This short presentation discusses some of the preliminary results of my recent work in Kerma/Dokki Gel, North Sudan. The site of Dokki Gel presents unique examples of cohabitation between Egyptian settlers and Indigenous places of worship. The town has two distinct architectural ensembles, represented by three relatively "orthodox" Pharaonic temples in the western part of the settlement, and a large Nubian religious complex towards the east, built according to local architectural patterns and including oval or round temples. The workshops associated with these temples provide evidence for bronze and faience working, butchering activities, and bread baking on a massive scale. In addition there are well-preserved contexts relating to building (mud puddle) and agricultural (ploughed field) activities, all of which have been sampled for analysis.

For further informationr see

If you have any queries, or would like to be added to the mailing list for the seminar series and for other Egyptology events in Cambridge, please contact:

Dr Sîan Thomas
Selwyn College Research Fellow
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER
tel: 01223 333538 fax: 01223 333538