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Seventy years of Polish archaeology and conservation/restoration in Egypt

- chronological review

1937

TELL EDFU

The first Polish excavations in Egypt organized in cooperation between the University of Warsaw and the Institut français d'archéologie orientale (IFAO) in Cairo. For a quarter of a century French archaeologists had been digging on the mound adjacent to the great temple of Horus, but frequent interruptions had prevented comprehensive investigation of any of the town sectors. In an effort to avoid progressive degradation of the site, IFAO Director Pierre Jouguet called for establishing a joint Franco-Polish expedition that would carry out regular excavations. It should be noted that in the 1930s (and for the next few decades as well), exploration of ancient town remains was hardly an archaeological priority in Egypt. The expedition, which in the first season was directed by Bernard Bruy're, investigated the southwestern part of the tell, uncovering an extensive sector of the ancient town. Research proved the continuity of settlement from the times of the Fifth-Sixth Dynasties through the Late Byzantine period. The fertile alluvial plain around Edfu made it an important economic and administrative center. In the First Intermediate Period, the town is assumed to have covered c. 10-14 hectares inside the walls. In the southwestern part, the defenses were made to incorporate the brick structures of Old Kingdom mastabas. Among the discoveries of the first season was the mastaba of Qar (called Pepi-nefer), nomarch of Edfu in the reign of the Sixth Dynasty. The shaft turned out to be intact, yielding a rich tomb inventory that is now in the collection of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

1938

TELL EDFU

Second season of excavations directed by Kazimierz Michałowski. Investigations were continued inside the town, uncovering a habitation district of Ptolemaic and Roman date (including baths, artisan workshops and a small shrine). Of paramount importance were the epigraphic finds: ostraca and papyri in Demotic, Coptic, Aramaic, Greek and Latin. Most of these documents concerned matters of trade, taxes and administration, contributing importantly to the study of Graeco-Roman economy in Egypt. The mastaba of Isi, which sebakh diggers had disturbed six years earlier, was also cleared. Isi, father of Pepi-nefer, served as a nomarch under the successive kings Djedkare-Isesi, Unis and Teti, perhaps also Pepi I. His memory appears to have lived on through the ages, his tomb remaining a place of worship even in Middle Kingdom times, as indicated by the offerings, votive steles and offering tables found in front of his funerary chapel.

1939

TELL EDFU

Discovery of the untouched burial shafts of Isi and his wife Sesh-Seshet. The third season was also the last under the agreement signed with the IFAO. World War II and its aftermath interrupted Polish archaeological activity in Egypt for almost two decades.

1957

TELL ATRIB

Reopening of Polish archaeological activities in Egypt after World War II. Answering an appeal from Selim Hassan of the SAE (Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte) which drew attention to the degradation of archaeological sites in the Nile Delta (corroborated among others by Tadeusz Andrzejewski's survey in the region), Kazimierz Michałowski chose to excavate Kom A, a mound then located on the outskirts of the modern town of Benha. Michałowski based his choice on previous experience of digging the kom in Tell Edfu. The first season brought to light a great bathing establishment from the Early Roman period, rebuilt in the times of Trajan and Hadrian. The discovery of remains of Roman house and street colonnades permitted a reconstruction of part of the town layout. Numerous inscribed blocks of stone from the Pharaonic and Ptolemaic periods, reused in Roman structures (including the water channels) testified to the past glory of Athribis, once the capital of the tenth nome of Lower Egypt.

1958

TELL ATRIB

Continued excavations of Kom A, revealing the temenos wall surrounding a Late Period sanctuary, the foundations of two temples from the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Dynasties respectively and two foundation deposits, of Taharka and Amasis. The large number of Late Antique and Arab lime kilns dotting the site explained the dearth of limestone blocks from Pharaonic times. The first two campaigns of fieldwork were organized by the National Museum in Warsaw. Successive seasons (until 1969), directed by Barbara Ruszczyc, were carried out within the framework of the program of the University of Warsaw Archaeological Center in Cairo.

VALLEY OF THE KINGS

Documenting the decoration of the tomb of Ramesses III (KV 11). Tadeusz Andrzejewski's study of the Book of the Gates from the sarcophagus hall was published in volume 57 of ASAE. The project was interrupted by his premature death in 1961.

SIWA, BAHARIYA and FAYUM OASES

Research on the morphological structure of the inhabitants of the Siwa, Bahariya and Fayum Oases, undertaken by a combined Polish-Egyptian Anthropological Expedition. The program was developed by Tadeusz Dzierżykray-Rogalski and was run jointly by the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Egyptian National Research Centre.

SHELLAL - WADI HALFA

Survey of the region to be inundated by the waters of the dam lake being built in Aswan, carried out by Professor Michałowski's team of archaeologists from Poland. A thorough report presented to the Egyptian Antiquities Organization was instrumental in developing a program for more than 40 international expeditions salvaging Nubian antiquities under UNESCO auspices for the next few years.

1959

CAIRO (Heliopolis)

Opening of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology (PCMA) with quarters in Cairo. It was envisaged as a supervising and administrative body for archaeological fieldwork conducted by University of Warsaw missions working in the Near East. Kazimierz Michałowski headed this institution until his death in 1981.

1960

DABOD and TAFA

Dismantling under UNESCO auspices of the ruins of two Meroitic temples in an area of ancient Nubia to be inundated by the waters of Lake Nasser. Polish architects took part in the engineering side of this salvage project, while Marek Marciniak supervised archaeological probing of the foundations of the temple in Dabod.

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Beginning of regular excavations. First to be discovered were three levels of an Arab burial ground: the latest from the 12th-13th century, an intermediate one from the mid 9th-10th century, and the earliest from the 8th-9th century. Finds included numerous funerary stelae with inscriptions carved in Kufic script. Archaeological and anthropological research combined with a study of the Arab texts gave a comprehensive picture of the condition and development of the population of medieval Alexandria. Excavating the first trial pits, Leszek Dąbrowski uncovered features belonging to a monumental complex of red brick, later identified as a bath.

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Kazimierz Michałowski approached by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization to complete the restoration of the third, highest terrace of the Queen's temple. A Polish-Egyptian Mission was established and charged with the architectural inventory of the walls of the Upper Courtyard and research on the arrangement of the colonnades. A project for the reconstruction of the Ptolemaic portico in front of the main sanctuary of Amun-Re was prepared.

1962

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Implementation of the Ptolemaic Portico anastylosis project. Clearance south of the Royal Cult Chapels in search of where the Queen's temple ended on the south brought the discovery of about 200 blocks originating from the temple chambers. Most of the blocks, however, proved to come from an entirely different structure - a hitherto unknown temple raised by Tuthmosis III. Shafts of columns from the hypostyle hall left no doubt as to the monumental character of this architectural complex, which was still in existence during the Nineteenth Dynasty, as suggested by votive statues of Amenemone and Piay, inscribed stelae, ostraca and graffiti. The Egyptian Antiquities Organization granted permission for the Polish team to excavate the area between the temple of Hatshepsut and the complex of Mentuhotep II.

1963

ABU SIMBEL

Michałowski presided over the International Committee of Experts established by the government of Egypt for the purpose of saving the rock temples of Ramesses II and Nefertari. A Polish project for the salvaging of the Abu Simbel temples was also among the proposals. In the end, technical and financial reasons led to the selection of an Italian project which called for cutting the temples to pieces and reassembling them on higher ground.

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Tuthmosis III)

Discovery of several hundreds of limestone blocks with exquisite painted decoration from the walls of the ruined temple. An iconographic and epigraphic analysis of the finds led the excavator, Jadwiga Lipińska, to identify the structure as the Djeser-Akhet, a temple hitherto known from written sources alone. The terrace layout of the structure, raised apparently in the last ten years of Tuthmosis III's rule, repeated in principle the arrangement of the adjacent Temple of Hatshepsut. A headless granite statue of Senenmut discovered in the ruins of the temple of Tuthmosis III abolished the theory that the architect had disappeared infamously from political life at the end of the queen's reign.

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Continued clearance of a monumental public bath of the Imperial type, complete with preserved pools, heating systems, furnaces and spacious underground facilities for storing fuel. Water was supplied from a huge masonry cistern. The complex was in use for about 300 years from the middle of the 4th century AD. The excavation and architectural inventory of the ruins, architectural studies, preservation, conservation, reconstruction and ultimately anastylosis of elements of this complex, including walls, vaults and colonnaded porticoes, was carried out over the next three decades under the direction of architect Wojciech Kołątaj.

1964

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Tuthmosis III)

Discovery of a monumental statue of the temple's founder, Tuthmosis III. The admirably preserved image of an enthroned ruler, carved in gray quartzdiorite, was found while removing debris from a room situated to the west of the hypostyle. The statue is now on display in the Luxor Museum.

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Discovery of a theater/odeon. Marble seating on a horseshoe plan, monolithic granite columns and richly ornamental capitals testified to the monumental character and quality of this building. Probing in the vicinity of the structure, followed by years of analyses of the archaeological and stratigraphical context, have resulted in a theoretical reconstruction of its appearance, development and changing function. This structure was raised in the 4th century AD. Two hundred years later, it was thoroughly rebuilt and furnished with a domed roof. Public assemblies took place in this hall until the times of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius. Ultimately, the building was destroyed in a quake of the late 8th century.

1966

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Tuthmosis III)

Clearance of rock debris from the temple area and archaeological excavations. The southeastern part of the upper terrace built on an artificial support was found to be totally annihilated. Stone elements of the lower porticoes and ramps had been destroyed already in Antiquity. Restorers clarified the arrangement of the upper terrace with hypostyle hall, bark room, royal cult chapels and the sanctuary lying transversally to the temple's line of symmetry. More than 5000 decorated blocks and fragments of blocks were moved to a special storeroom built on the northern slopes of the Deir el-Bahari Valley, where the laborious task of their drawing and photographing began.

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Conservation and building reconstruction of the theater/odeon begun by Wojciech Kołątaj. The first to be reconstructed was the 13-row seating in the audience, the mosaics in the vestibule and the architectural interior decoration. Columns were raised on the top of the auditorium.

1968

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Beginning of large-scale reintegration by a Polish-Egyptian Archaeological and Preservation Mission directed by Zygmunt Wysocki from the Gdańsk branch of the Polish Ateliers for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (PP PKZ). Architectural and epigraphic studies aimed at reconstructing the arrangement of the colonnades of the peristyle and the west wall (with niches) of the Upper Courtyard. Project for the reconstruction of the pillars of the Upper Portico and a few Osiriac statues of Queen Hatshepsut. Discovery of the ingenious rock shelf originally protecting the structures of the Upper Terrace. Its reconstruction, approved by the EAO, changed the entire appearance of the reconstructed temple facade.

1969

TELL ATRIB (Kom Sidi Yussuf)

Egyptian-Polish excavations on a mound on the outskirts of the modern town of Benha, directed by Barbara Ruszczyc and financed by the Polish Archaeological Centre in Cairo in association with the Coptic Committee.

1970

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Intensive building conservation work by Wojciech Kołataj resulting in the preservation and restoration of the subterranean parts of the Late Roman Baths. This project was undertaken after the theater structure was opened to visitors, following a four-year restoration effort.

1972

CAIRO (Mosque of Amir Qurqumas)

Clearance of an extensive funerary complex in the northern part of Cairo's Northern Necropolis. The conservation project for the adaptation of the Mosque of Amir Qurqumas, prepared by a Polish-Egyptian team headed by Andrzej Misiorowski, assumed the establishment of documentation labs for Islamic monuments in the Sufi habitation quarter (riwaq/arwaqa) and the Amir's "palace" (qasr). The impressive complex (No. 163) erected by Qurqumas in the first decade of the 16th century was a religious foundation (waqf) comprising not only the Amir's tomb, but also a Quranic school, Sufi habitation quarter (riwaq/arwaqa), the Amir's residence and huge economic base. The tombs of the founder family and his court in the crypts of the mausoleum were opened and the skeletal remains studied anthropologically.

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Excavations in the habitation quarter of the 4th-7th century AD. Archaeologist Mieczysław Rodziewicz uncovered vestiges of a densely populated quarter of Late Antique Alexandria. Modest houses and small artisan workshops were found to occupy one side of a Roman street. Deeper probing in this area brought the discovery of Early Roman houses from the 1st and 2nd century AD, furnished with exquisite mosaic floors testifying to the luxurious standard of these buildings.

QASR IBRIM

Explorations of Qasr Ibrim, initiated by a combined Polish-British-American team directed at first by Martin Plumley and from 1978 by Robert Anderson. Investigations concerned sacral architecture from the Late Period, fortifications, town architecture and relics of churches from the Byzantine Age.

1973

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Tuthmosis III)

Study and documentation of stone fragments gathered in stores after the end of excavations. The work initiated a project directed by Jadwiga Lipińska, aimed at reconstructing the decoration program of the ruined temple. One of the tasks was to select a group of blocks for recomposition and conservation, later to be assembled as fragmentary walls of chambers on the upper terrace (including hypostyle hall, bark room and sanctuary).

1975

CAIRO (Mosque of Amir Qurqumas)

Architectural and building conservation works in the funerary complex, started by Ireneusz Nieduziak and Jerzy Kania's team from the State Ateliers for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (PP PKZ), Kielce branch. Archaeological excavations carried out in the sabil and protection measures taken in the quttab. Completed restoration of the manara and the marble interior finishing of the liwan-qibla of the madrasa. Beginning of building works in the qasr and, from the mid 1980s, exploration of its "northern" (hawš - burial grounds) and "southeastern" sides (foundations of the subsidiary merchants' rab'a). Establishment of a protected archaeological zone around the adjacent mausolea of Qurqumas and Sultan Inal.

1977

VALLEY OF THE KINGS (Tomb of Ramesses III)

Documentation in drawing and photography of Tomb KV 11 resumed by Marek Marciniak, especially the Sun Litany texts from the corridor.

1978

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temples of Tuthmosis III and Hatshepsut)

Decision by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization's Executive Committee to reconstruct the roof above the reconstructed Upper Portico (Coronation Portico) of the temple facade. The first stage of the reconstruction of the northern wing of the west wall of the Coronation Portico was implemented based on Janusz Karkowski's epigraphic studies. Resumed studies and conservation work on the stored material from the Tuthmosis temple.

1979

TELL ATRIB (Kom Sidi Yussuf)

Resumed exploration of Kom Sidi Yussuf. Barbara Ruszczyc uncovered the remains of an Early Christian basilica, fragments of columns and gilded capitals. The vestiges were identified putatively as the relics of a legendary Church of the Holy Virgin Mary, the existence of which had been reported in medieval Arab sources.

1981

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Discovery of two previously unknown niches in the Bark Room of the main sanctuary of Amun-Re, blocked with pieces of original blocks when the sanctuary was rebuilt in Ptolemaic times. Zygmunt Wysocki's discovery changed the known plan of this part of the temple and permitted further reconstruction of the wall decoration.

1982

DEIR EL-BAHARI

Sandstone statue of Amenhotep I represented as Osiris discovered accidentally during engineering work in the Asasif valley. Together with other images of the Eighteenth Dynasty king, it lined a processional road leading to the Temple of Mentuhotep II, which Amenhotep adapted for the needs of his own cult.

1985

TELL ATRIB

Beginning of Polish-Egyptian salvage excavations in the vicinity of Kom Sidi Yussuf, prompted by plans for intensive urban development. The digging, directed by Karol Myśliwiec, lasted ten seasons and led to the uncovering of a habitation quarter and artisan workshops of Ptolemaic date, including a sculptor's atelier producing marble statues of Aphrodite. Finds included a deposit of statues from the times of Ptolemy II Philadelphos. Abundant archaeological finds (terracottas, pottery, coins) from undisturbed stratigraphy has made Tell Atrib one of the most important sites for understanding the archaeology of the Delta during the Graeco-Roman period.

DAKHLA OASIS

Petroglyph Unit formed by Lech Krzyżaniak for studying rock art within the frame of the Dakhleh Oasis Project directed by Anthony Mills. In successive seasons of fieldwork, Krzyżaniak concentrated on locating and documenting clusters of petroglyphs from the 1st millennium BC.

1986

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Three lecture halls excavated by Zsolt Kiss west of the Late Roman Baths. The function of these halls, featuring rows of stone benches lining the walls, was not recognized until twenty years later.

DEIR EL-NAQLUN

Beginning of excavations of a monastery raised on the outskirts of Fayum Oasis in the end of the 5th century. An archaeological mission directed by Włodzimierz Godlewski mapped the site which includes the Church of Archangel Gabriel, a monastery and related buildings, two cemeteries and 89 hermitages cut in the rocks of the nearby gebel. The architecture was inventoried and probes were dug in hermitage no. 1, an ancient monastic complex on site A and in necropolis C. One of the finds was a fragment of the lost, eleventh book of Livy's History of Rome.

MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

Accidental discovery of a previously unknown town on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. Wiktor Andrzej Daszewski located the ruins and prepared a provisional description, identifying a necropolis and the town itself with houses, public buildings, docks, harbor facilities, cisterns and a Christian basilica at the eastern end of the site. His report setting down the excavation and preservation priorities for the site served the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) as a guide for creating an archaeological zone in Marina el-Alamein. A Polish Archaeological Mission and a Polish-Egyptian Preservation Mission were established and the SCA undertook supervision of all engineering and building work in the region.

MEIDUM

Protection and conservation of the facade of the mastaba of Nefermaat in Meidum. A Polish-Egyptian Preservation Mission under Jan Borkowski carried out the consolidation of the mud-brick wall structure and the lime plastering of the tomb. It was the first large-scale effort to preserve dried mud brick in Egypt.

1987

WEST SAQQARA

Beginning of work by a Polish Archaeological Mission directed by Karol Myśliwiec in Saqqara. Geophysical surveying by Tomasz Herbich provided data for the first probes dug in search of burial shafts of Old Kingdom date. The lintel of an entrance to one of these tombs was discovered at this time. A painted Ptolemaic cartonnage with a mummy inside, found in the upper layers, testified to a long-lasting burial tradition in the area west of the Djeser pyramid complex, an observation fully confirmed by later research.

MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

Investigations of the town's southwestern necropolis. Wiktor A. Daszewski's team discovered the first aboveground tombs dating from the early 2nd through the 1st centuries BC. These included small stepped pyramids, a masonry sarcophagus, columns and pillars up to 7 m high. The stone structures were inventoried and prepared for anastylosis.

EL-ASHMUNEIN

Project for the excavation, preservation and rebuilding of a Coptic basilica in Hermopolis Magna. A Polish-Egyptian Archaeological and Preservation Mission directed by Marek Barański from the Warsaw branch of the State Ateliers for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (PP PKZ) completed documentation for a restoration project.

1988

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Excavations in habitation quarters in various parts of the site: first east of street R4 (Roman and Ptolemaic layers), then west of the street (1st-3rd centuries AD) and next to and under the Theater Portico. Grzegorz Majcherek's team of archaeologists uncovered Late Ptolemaic and Early Roman relics, especially in the last mentioned area, testifying to the luxurious standards of urban life in Alexandria of the day: mosaic floors with figural decoration, murals, fragmentary architectural and sculptural decoration. Wojciech Kołataj started piecing together and raising the columns of the southern portico of the Baths and the portico that led to the theater structure.

MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

Fieldwork on the site of the ancient town. A Polish-Egyptian Preservation Mission headed by Włodzimierz Bentkowski from the Zamość branch of the State Ateliers for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (PP PKZ) started inventorying the residential architecture discovered during salvage excavations by SCA archaeologists. Wiktor A. Daszewski's team continued exploring the town's necropolis, clearing a number of monumental sepulchral complexes from the 1st and 2nd century AD. The aboveground parts of these tombs comprised a mausoleum built of stone from where a rockcut staircase descended into the hypogeum. Underground peristyle courtyards opened into rock-cut burial chambers located on one, two or three sides. The Marina necropolis has provided not only an extensive review of forms of sepulchral architecture, but also an opportunity to study burial customs in the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods.

1989

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Studies and documentation work in the Temple of Hatshepsut started by a Polish Epigraphic Mission directed by Janusz Karkowski in preparation for publishing the Upper Portico and Solar Cult Complex.

MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

Anastylosis of stone pillar tombs uncovered by Polish archaeologists in the town's necropolis, accomplished by restorers, now under the direction of Jarosław Dobrowolski. Archaeologists explored further tombs, unearthing mummies and funerary portraits of the so-called Fayum type.

1992

DEIR EL-NAQLUN

Conservation of medieval murals discovered under modern plaster in the Church of the Archangel Gabriel, dated to the first half of the 11th century. Explorations in the ruins of the monastery brought the discovery of a monastic keep, and digging in the northernmost hermitage (no. 44) yielded several documents written in Coptic, accompanied by coins dating the assemblage (and presumably the emergence of the monastic center) to the second half of the 5th century AD.

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Joint PCMA and IFAO mission, co-directed by Nathalie Beaux-Grimal and Janusz Karkowski, charged with preparing a full publication of the Hathor Chapel from the Middle Terrace of the temple.

CAIRO (Mosque of Amir Qurqumas)

Protective measures safeguarding the original vaulting of the madrasa, implemented by Jarosław Dobrowolski. Eroded stone blocks were replaced and the qasr ground floor stabilized after the earthquake that damaged many buildings in Cairo in October of 1992. Beginning of restoration of the rab'a. Continued excavations of the "southeastern" courtyard of the qasr.

1993

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Preservation and restoration activities resumed in the Queen's temple by a newly formed Polish-Egyptian mission, now directed by Franciszek Pawlicki. The first task was to protect structurally endangered elements, such as the northern colonnade and the north chapel of Amun, and to reconstruct the walls of the Upper Courtyard and the vestibule of the Solar Cult Complex using original blocks. Included in the program were the polichromies, plasters and ancient mortars found throughout the temple (among others, in the Punt and Birth Porticoes, Lower Shrine of Anubis and sanctuary of Amun-Re).

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Tuthmosis III)

Restoration of the bases of the polygonal columns in the hypostyle hall and clarification of the layout of the upper terrace. Conservation of the in situ jambs of a granite portal and wall blocks put together from pieces gathered in the mission stores. The conservation method applied by Polish specialists permits reconstructed blocks to be used in a rebuilding of the temple walls, either in the field or a museum display.

1995

MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

Beginning of a project for the restoration of urban houses excavated during salvage work carried out earlier by Egyptian archaeologists, carried out by a Polish-Egyptian restoration mission directed by Stanisław Medeksza from the Wrocław University of Technology.

1996

VALLEY OF THE KINGS (Tomb of Ramesses VI)

Adam Łukaszewicz's project for the study of several hundred Greek and Latin graffiti from the walls of the tomb of the mythical hero Memnon visited by pilgrims in Roman times.

CAIRO (Mosque of Amir Qurqumas)

Intensified restoration, conservation and embellishment activities, specifically with regard to the structurally endangered parts of the complex (wooden ceilings of the madrasa), as well as those intended for tourist purposes, including rab'a, qasr and tahuna (mill), the work carried out by Jerzy Kania's team.

WEST SAQQARA

Regular excavations of an area situated west of the Djeser pyramid enclosure by Karol Myśliwiec, in collaboration with Egyptian archaeologists Abu el-Youn Barakat and Nabil Swelim. The ground proved to be riddled with up to 10-m deep burial shafts of Old Kingdom date and covered with relics of brick mastaba superstructures. The so-called Upper Necropolis comprised abundant Ptolemaic burials.

1997

WEST SAQQARA

Discovery of the mastaba of Merefnebef from the beginnings of the Sixth Dynasty. The walls of the funerary chapel were covered with perfectly preserved, exquisitely painted offering and banquet scenes, images of the vizier and his relatives, including his four wives. The intentional damages made to representations of all of the sons but one have been interpreted as proof of family quarrels and a conflict of interests. Provisional protection of the plaster and polychromy.

DEIR EL-NAQLUN

Continued exploration of the monastic architecture, paralleled by conservation of murals from the Church of the Archangel Gabriel. Discovery of the archives of Girga ben Bifam containing a packet of 50 notarial deeds and other documents written in Arabic, dating from the 10th-11th centuries. The variety and abundance of texts recorded on paper, parchment and papyrus distinguishes Naqlun from other monastic sites presently under exploration. It is also proof of the monastery's uninterrupted existence down the ages.

1998

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Intensive conservation and restoration works in the Upper Terrace aimed at rebuilding all of the upper courtyard walls. Cleaning and conservation of the polychromy in the main sanctuary of Amun-Re. Reconstruction of the lower ramp together with the stone elements of the balustrades.

TELL ATRIB

Excavations resumed in the Ptolemaic habitation quarter, now under the direction of Hanna Szymańska. Numerous finds of terracottas, pottery and coins confirmed the stratigraphy and the overall character of this district of the ancient town, established already during earlier investigations.

TELL EL-FARKHA (Ghazala)

Pre- and Early Dynastic site in the Delta excavated by an expedition from the Poznań Archaeological Museum and the Institute of Archaeology of Jagiellonian University in cooperation with the PCMA, directed by Marek Chłodnicki and Krzysztof M. Ciałowicz. The extent of the site and the thickness of cultural accumulations were determined by archaeological testing, geological drilling and geophysical prospection. The site comprised three mounds: western one with residential and temple architecture, central one with remains of settlement and eastern one with a settlement and cemetery. An analysis of the stratigraphy revealed several occupational phases, extending from the Lower Egyptian culture (3600 BC) to the beginnings of the Fourth Dynasty.

1999

DENDERA

Polish-French agreement to run a combined expedition directed by Adam Łukaszewicz, excavating the Hathor temenos in Dendera. The team uncovered structures of the First Intermediate Period, including a bakery, as well as relics of a stone cult building of Roman date.

DEIR EL-BAHARI

Polish-Egyptian expedition headed by Andrzej Niwiński to assess the condition of the rocky cliff above the Temple of Hatshepsut. The objective was to remove any loose scree and rock fragments threatening the temple below, while conducting an archaeological survey of the area and inventorying the graffiti found on the face of the cliff.

2000

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Opening of a shelter constructed over some Early Roman mosaic floors preserved in their original context in a Roman villa rebuilt extensively in later times. Landscaping of the area following guidelines set down in a site presentation project designed to turn Kom el-Dikka into an archaeological park for tourists. A modern auditorium was erected in front of the ancient theater.

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

A major stage of the work on the Third Terrace of the Hatshepsut temple completed after 40 years of archaeological and architectural research coupled with conservation and reconstruction activities directed in the most recent period by Zbigniew E. Szafrański. Full anastylosis of the Upper (Coronation) Portico, the main courtyard called the Festival Courtyard and the main sanctuary of Amun-Re. Several thousand original blocks and fragments of blocks have thus been replaced in their original position in the decoration of walls which now stand again to their full height.

MAREA

Beginning of excavations of a public bath complex with adjacent saqiyah installation from the 6th century AD and a funerary chapel of the same period by a mission directed by Hanna Szymańska and Krzysztof Babraj. The team later moved to excavate a three-aisled basilica with broad transept, one of the biggest buildings of the type known from Byzantine Egypt. Marble floors and murals in the bath left no doubt as to the luxurious character of the building, suggesting that by the 5th century AD, the Hellenistic and Roman harbor town of Marea had become a thriving stop for pilgrims headed for the nearby monastery of St Menas in Abu Mena.

WEST SAQQARA

Successive discoveries, including a subterranean rock-cut corridor containing a unique deposit of wild animal bones and a wooden harpoon decorated with images of snakes carved in relief. The ritual chamber was entered via a long rock corridor leading from the face of the so-called Dry Moat surrounding the Djeser pyramid enclosure.

2001

MARINA EL-ALAMEIN

Excavations in the center of the ancient town uncovering a paved square lined with porticoes. On-site conservation concerned the architectural members: capitals, cornice elements, benches and plastering in an exedra. Systematic anastylosis of the house architecture in the town and of selected tombs, like the facade of the aboveground mausoleum of hypogeum-tomb T 6.

TELL EL-FARKHA (Ghazala)

Votive deposit comprising, among others, figures of prostrate men and baboons, five clay rattles and miniature models of vessels, found inside an administrative and cult complex from the end of Dynasty 0 and beginning of Dynasty 1, raised on the ruins of a Naqadian residence. Geophysical surveying identified the localization of a cemetery on the Eastern Kom; the first explored tombs dated the burial ground to Dynasty 0 and the beginnings of Dynasty I. In a number of cases, substantial brick superstructures were found standing over the burial chambers lined with mud bricks.

2002

DEIR EL-NAQLUN

Exploration of graves in a medieval Coptic cemetery A situated in the ruins of the monastic complex adjacent to the Church of the Archangel Michael. A finely preserved Coptic codex dated to AD 1100, containing the Gospel of St John, written down on 144 pages, was discovered in one of the graves. The graves also yielded several Fatimid glasses and a hundred well preserved textiles, some of them quite unique with Arabic and Coptic inscriptions, calling for a comprehensive conservation and study program now under implementation.

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Official opening by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak of the restored part of the Upper Terrace together with the main sanctuary, Festival Courtyard and Upper Portico.

2003

ALEXANDRIA (Kom el-Dikka)

Fifteen more lecture halls with tiered seating along the walls uncovered during furtherexcavations by Grzegorz Majcherek west of the Great Baths. The complex was now recognized as the "university campus" of Late Antique Alexandria. Teachers must have used the high seat at the apex of each auditorium. The halls arranged along the Theater Portico were built in the late 5th or early 6th century AD.

PELUSIUM

Clearing of a Roman theater known partly from earlier salvage excavations by Egyptian archaeologists carried out in connection with the building of the El-Salam canal. Michał Gawlikowski's team investigated the brick foundations of this structure, determining that the rest of the building was dismantled in Antiquity to construct a Roman army camp nearby.

WEST SAQQARA

More Old Kingdom tombs discovered by Karol Myśliwiec near the tomb of Merefnebef. Funerary stelae, thrown down the burial shafts after the burial chambers had been penetrated by ancient pillagers, have helped to identify some of the dignitaries buried in the western necropolis of Saqqara. The women bear titles of priestesses of Hathor, testifying to the local popularity of the cult of this goddess. The cult chapel of the archpriest Nyanchnefertem called Temi, who lived during the Sixth Dynasty, had not been completed, but still it preserves some fine examples of wall decoration depicting the priest and scenes of offerings.

SHEIKH ABD EL-GURNA

Remains of a Coptic hermitage explored by Tomasz Górecki in a rock tomb of Middle Kingdom date. The amphorae and other pottery vessels, as well as ostraca, dated the hermits occupation to the mid 6th through the mid 8th century AD. A master and his disciple residing in this hermitage occupied themselves mainly with weaving and later also with leatherwork, including manuscript binding. A brick tower built in the courtyard in front of the old tomb served as a keep and storage facility.

2004

TELL EL-FARKHA (Ghazala)

Discovery of the oldest brewery complex known from Egypt (c. 3500-3300 BC). The structures were associated with Lower Egyptian Culture and all were constructed in a similar manner with circles of bricks supporting vats for brewing beer. The beverage was already one of the staples of Egyptian diet at the time.

2005

SHEIKH ABD EL-GURNA

Coptic manuscripts on papyrus and parchment found thrown out with ancient rubbish on the hermitage's dump. One is an 8th century enkomion to St Pisenthios; another, identified as the Canons of Pseudo-Basil, contains several pages of rules regulating different aspects of life of a Coptic community in Egypt. The parchment book contains the text of the Book of Isaiah and an apocryphal text, the Acts of St Peter. The texts were written down in the 9th-10th century AD.

DEIR EL-BAHARI (Temple of Hatshepsut)

Tomb of Vizier Padiamonet of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty located under the chapel floor during a rechecking the foundations of the Hatshepsut Chapel inside the temple. Zbigniew E. Szafrański's discovery has provided evidence of paramount importance for the role of the temple complex during this period.

PELUSIUM

Probing the ruins of the Late Antique town, Krzysztof Jakubiak's team uncovered remnants of a mosaic floor border with exquisite images of birds and plants executed in fine stone and glass tesserae.

2006

TELL EL-FARKHA (Ghazala)

Discovery of a unique deposit of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines made of hippo tusks, inside the administrative and cult complex on the Western Kom (Dynasty 0-middle of Dynasty 1). The monumental character of the complex, considered in connection with the richly furnished graves from this period, testifies to the affluence of the community. The town's prosperity presumably drew from its location on the trade routes joining the Delta with Palestine and the Near East.

The other find of the season was a hoard hidden away around 3150 BC in a poor settlement on the Eastern Kom. It consisted of two flint knives and a bead necklace accompanying two male figures made of sheet gold and with eyes of lapis lazuli. Presumed to depict a ruler and his son and heir, these figures are the oldest representations of the kind known from Egypt.

WEST SAQQARA

Discovery of successive burial shafts of Old Kingdom nobles, pillaged during the First Intermediate Period. A decade of digging has also yielded more than 400 burials of Ptolemaic and Early Roman date, uncovered in the upper layers. The material comprising both skeleton and mummy burials, deposited in painted cartonnages, as well as wooden and reed coffins, has contributed to a study of burial customs and an anthropological assessment of the Memphite population during this period.

DEIR EL-NAQLUN

Exploration of the 6th century Cemetery C, leading to the discovery of two well preserved cartonnages and a number of Coptic textiles. A hermitage with church located in the western group of hermitages and dated to the beginning of the 6th century is likely the oldest such complex in Egypt.

2007

SHEIKH ABD EL-GURNA

Discovery of an irregular underground chamber, adapted as a cellar by the Coptic monks, in the corridor of the tomb. A cross of stone tiles with a contour of fragmentary red-brick tiles was found in the pavement of another hermitage installed in an adjacent Middle Kingdom tomb.

TELL ER-RETABA

Beginning of work on a site at the mouth of Wadi Tumilat. The joint Polish-Slovakian mission is headed by Sławomir Rzepka.

DAKHLA OASIS

Further comprehensive reconnaissance in the desert wadis by the Petroglyph Unit of the Dakhla Oasis Project searching for rock art. The unit, now supervised by Michał Kobusiewicz of the Poznań branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences, has recorded 20 new sites (with images of giraffes, oryx antelopes and bulls among others) located in the northern part of the so-called Painted Wadi. Putative rock shelters have also been identified.

TELL EL-FARKHA (Ghazala)

More figures and miniature vessels found on the Western Kom. The biggest of the graves so far explored in the cemetery on the Eastern Kom contained 50 vessels of clay and 30 of stone. The find confirms Farkha's importance as an administrative and cult center existing at the beginning of historical times in Egypt. A pauperized settlement, the inhabitants of which buried their dead in modest graves, continued to exist in later times, at least until the end of the Third Dynasty. The post, once controlling the Eastern trade, appears to have been abandoned for good at the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty.

WEST SAQQARA

Intensive conservation inside the tombs of Merefnebef and Nyankhnefertem. Archeological exploration of the area between the wall of the Netjerykhet complex and the tomb of Nyankhnefertem.

Franciszek Pawlicki
PCMA, Warsaw University