Palaces in Egypt

There are not many palaces in Egypt, which had been excavated and only few so far adequately. This project intends to collect all available data of palaces in Egypt focusing on modern excavation records such as the Thutmosid palace at  ’Ezbet Helmy and the Hyksos palace at Tell el-Dab‘a. This project attempts, however, to complement with fieldwork in excavated palaces in Bubastis and Ballas and others in cooperation with teams of the MoA, the EES, the University of Wuerzburg, and the Ancient Egyptian Archaeology and Heritage Fund. It is furthermore projected within conferences (thus far: 2013 in London and 2016 in Vienna), attended by all groups of researchers of palatial precincts, to find architectural rules for palaces, for the space programmes and rules of the internal hierarchy and classification of palaces.

Excavations in the Hyksos palace in Tell el-Dab‘a

The palaces of Egypt will be for the first time compared to palaces in the Near East in order to assess the difference and the mutual influence. It is especially in the Hyksos Period that features of Syrian and Mesopotamian architecture start to appear in palaces in Egypt. It will be seen if such foreign features continued to stay from then onwards within the Egyptian corpus of palace concepts. The study will also closely compare the relationship between palaces and contemporary houses and will resume the study on the relationship between palace and temple, which can be found not only in general terms, but in quite some detail. Although preserved only in minor quantities, the programme of wall paintings in palaces will be assessed.

Sizes of the whole precincts, sizes and percentage of representation quarters, apartments and attendant quarters will be compared with each other. It is especially the size of storage capacity, which could, as we believe, be a yardstick to measure economic power, and the importance of the kingdoms.

This project will, however, also incorporate our knowledge in which way palaces are reflected in Egyptian texts in order to add more life into the archaeological evidence by mutual juxtaposition with written references. 

Hyksos palace at Tell el-Dab‘a, Area F/II
Tuthmosid palace at ’Ezbet Helmy



  • M. Bietak, S. Prell (eds.), Palaces in Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Near East. Vol. I: Egypt. Contributions to the Archaeology of Egypt, Nubia and the Levant (forthcoming).