Tell el-Dab’a: Ceramic Deposition L81: Documentation and Evaluation


This huge rubbish dump, found in a palace belonging to the Hyksos Khyan in area F/II at Tell el-Dab’a, contained a large amount of material, including, but not restricted to, the remains of ritual meals or banquets that were buried in large pits after the meal. Banquets of this kind were held on the birthdays of gods or kings or for funerals. In the present case, the remnants of the banquet were found in a specially built palace courtyard, which was separated from the surroundings by large filling walls. The pit system (L81) was explored in three seasons between 2006 and 2008; it contained hundreds of thousands of sherds as well as a number of other finds not related to ritual meals. The recording of both the ceramic finds and the objects made from other materials (flint, faience, stone, metal, etc.) has now been completed.

More than 35,000 diagnostic ceramic fragments (rims, bases, handles, decorated pieces) and almost 2,000 reconstructable vessels were recorded and analysed. Whilst most of these were locally made, and thus will provide a practically complete picture of the complete Hyksos pottery repertoire, many imported vessels were also discovered. These come from the north east (Cyprus), the east (The Levant), the south (Upper Egypt) and the far south (Nubia), whilst the origin of a small number of handmade sherds still awaits identification. Amongst the Egyptian imports are a small number of Marl C fish dishes, many of which bear highly interesting artistic representations of hunting, aquatic scenes and the like. Of particular interest are also a number of fine decorated ‘dinner services’ of evident Levantine manufacture. A small number of rhyta in the form of hippos, ducks and naked female figures, are noteworthy. So far, a number of preliminary reports have been published.