TELL EL-DAB’A: THE TEMPLE AND THE SETTLEMENT OF THE MIDDLE KINGDOM IN EZBET RUSHDI


Plan of the temple district at Ezbet Rushdi
Supplementary plan of the settlement of Ezbet Rushdi, str. e/2

Ezbet Rushdi is a village located about 1 km northeast of Tell el-Dab’a in the Nile Delta. In the 1950s, the Egyptian archaeologist Shehata Adam discovered the remains of a monumental brick temple during excavations in the fields east of the village. In 1996 this temple was exposed again in two campaigns by the ÖAI Cairo under the direction of Manfred Bietak. The results included a much improved plan of the temple as well as important information about the architectural history of the site. Remnants of domestic structures that had been destroyed during construction of the temples were discovered underneath it. As demonstrated by the mostly ceramic finds, both the temple and the lower-lying settlements were built in the 12th Dynasty (1991–1783 BC). An earlier dating of the temple to the beginning of this dynasty had become obsolete. There is a high probability this sanctuary represents a memorial temple for the late founder of the dynasty, King Amenemhat I, and was erected during the reign of King Sesostris III. The cult lasted during the second half of the 12th Dynasty and only became extinct in the 13th Dynasty. From the second half of the 13th Dynasty the area was apparently reused, but no building remains or layers above the temple have survived. Pits of lost surfaces, however, do cut into the area. One of these pits contained pottery of the mid-13th Dynasty, together with a seal impression of a mayor of Avaris named Jmenjj-seneb-nefer, which represents the earliest mentioning of the toponym Hwt-w’rt (Avaris) found in situ.

The houses that had been destroyed by the construction of the temple show a sequence of up to four phases of renewal. According to the ceramic material, the oldest building, directly above the Gezirah, cannot have been built before the second half of the reign of Sesostris I, perhaps not before his successor Amenemhat II. The finds from the settlement mainly consist of utilitarian pottery, flints (sickle stones, drills) and stone tools, some copper devices (needles, knives) and some scarabs. The numerous ceramic finds delivered important data for the first half of the 12th Dynasty for the ‘Handbook of the Pottery of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom’ (R. Schiestl, A. Seiler). In addition to locally produced Lower Egyptian ceramics, ceramics imported from Upper Egypt, the Levant and Crete were found. The former shed light on trade relations within the country, while foreign goods are of great importance for the synchronization of the respective culture periods with the Egyptian 12th Dynasty.

A comprehensive publication, including the archaeological record as well as an analysis of the numerous finds appeared in 2015.

Publications

Publications

  • S. Adam, Report on the Excavations of the Department of Antiquities at Ezbet Rushdi. ASAE 56 (1959), 207–226.
  • M. Bietak, J. Dorner, E. Czerny, T. Bagh, Der Tempel und die Siedlung des Mittleren Reiches bei ‘Ezbet Ruschdi, Grabungsvorbericht 1996, Ägypten und Levante 8, 1998, 9–49.
  • E. Czerny, Ein früher Beleg für hwt-w’rt auf einem Siegelabdruck aus Tell el-Dab‘a. Ägypten und Levante 11, 2001, 13–26.
  • E. Czerny, Egyptian Pottery from Tell el-Dab’a as a context for early MB IIA Painted Ware. In: M. Bietak (ed.), The Middle Bronze Age in the Levant, Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean 3, Wien 2002.
  • E. Czerny, Fragments of Information. In: M. Bietak, E. Czerny, I. Forstner-Müller (eds.), Cities and Urbanism in Ancient Egypt. Untersuchungen der Zweigstelle Kairo des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 35, Wien 2009.
  • R. Schiestl, A. Seiler (eds.), Handbook of the Pottery of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom. Wien 2012, passim, und Bd. II, Kapitel “Ezbet Rushdi: Glimpses of a 12th Dynasty town and Temple-Site” (E. Czerny), 61–72.
  • E. Czerny, Tell el-Dab’a XXII. Der Mund der beiden Wege. Die Siedlung und der Tempelbezirk des Mittleren Reiches von Ezbet Ruschdi. Untersuchungen der Zweigstelle Kairo des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 38, Wien 2015.