Tell el-Dab’a Publications

The central theme of the Tell el-Dab’a publications group is the synoptic analysis and final publication of the Tell el-Dab’a excavations carried out under the direction of M. Bietak from 1966 to 2009. Based on the 2014 developed publication concept (cooperation agreement with the Austrian Archaeological Institute), the members of the research group concentrate on specific topics of the excavations at ancient Avaris, the modern Tell el-Dab’a.

Tell el-Dab‘a, A/II-o/16, detail of the building (© ÖAI/ÖAW archives)
Tell el-Dab‘a, F/I-L/19, tomb 10 (© ÖAI/ÖAW archives)

As one of the very limited number of settlement sites so far excavated in Egypt, the long-term excavations of Tell el-Dab‘a, ancient Avaris, situated in the northeastern Nile Delta allows insights into the development of a planned settlement of limited size established at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2000 BC) to the largest trading centre in the Eastern Levant in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. While the site functioned as a capital for over 100 years during the Hyksos rule, it continued to play a major role as a trading centre under Thutmosis III to whom a vast palace complex decorated with Aegean frescoes can be attributed. Encompassing the complete Middle Kingdom, the still obscure 2nd Intermediate Period and the first half of the 18th Dynasty, a period contemporary with the whole of the Levantine Middle Bronze Age and Late Bronze Age I (ca. 2000–1400 BC), this site has produced long sequences of different materials, pottery, weaponry, tools and other objects, in clear stratigraphic sequences that provide a sound basis for a whole set of comparative studies within Egypt, Nubia and the Eastern Mediterranean. While the aim of the successful project SCIEM 2000 during the years 1999–2011 was directed on the synchronization of these materials and their chronological settings in the Eastern Mediterranean, we are now focused on the publication of comprehensive final excavation reports. Considering the significance of the site itself and the lack of stratified materials in Egypt in general, the meticulous study of the different excavation areas at Tell el-Dab‘a are of paramount importance not only for Egyptology but also for the archaeology of the Near East. With these publications the site of Tell el-Dab‘a will be one of the very few well documented long-term excavations.

M. Bietak’s new project “The Hyksos Enigma” was honoured with an ERC Advanced Grant in 2015. This project will be carried out in cooperation with the Tell el-Dab’a publications group regarding the Tell el Dab‘a outcome in the future.

The important analogue and digital archives of the Tell el-Dab‘a excavations within OREA have been evaluated and systematically organized by the new archive manager K. Kopetzky. This evaluation forms the crucial basis for the transformation of all data into a planned repository in the future. For this digitizing project “A puzzle in 4D” a structure for a comprehensive data-management program was set up by K. Kopetzky and E. Aspöck (Digital Archaeology group) in cooperation with partners from the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute. In addition, the data of the stratigraphy of one excavation square is tested.