Dig Houses of Nubia

Recently, we came across a noteworthy online contribution to archaeology along the Nile: A couple of two amateurs of Egyptology from Holland, Marcel and Monica Maessen, started a webpage that aims at presenting subjects which:

1. are both appealing to laymen as well as Egyptologists and students of Egyptology,

2. are interesting enough for visitors,

3. and can be researched and written by someone without a degree in Egyptology.

They had three ideas that could fit these prerequisites and these were:

1. Comparison of Old and New Photographs of Sites.

2. Extensive Biographies of Egyptologists.

3. The location and history of excavation houses in Egypt.

Their webpage is focusing for the time being on the last of these ideas, the one, which, in our opinion, is indeed an important contribution to Egyptology.

For all these and even more you can check their webpage: http://www.tawy.nl

Of course, our Internet space cannot claim specialty of the dig houses in Egypt, but there are three reasons why we take up the topic today:

1. The Maessen couple has a passing reference to the German dig house in Naga, north of Khartoum and in the heartland of the Meroitic Empire, the savanna of the Butana and Keraba regions. In the same area there are at least two more German dig houses, namely at the sites of Musawwarat and Meroe. These are the southernmost buildings constructed for the specific purpose of hosting archaeological missions. Here, an aerial view of the dig house at Musawwarat left from the large hafir (the water basin in the middle) and the reconstructed Lion Temple of the famous site (on the right). The Enclosures are further low and outside the frame of the photo.

2. Further downstream along the Middle Nile Valley, the archaeological missions seem to be occupying houses of the local communities that are close to the archaeological sites they work in, suitable for the needs of the expedition’s activities, happily rented out by the locals, and affordable! In some places, it is the guards of the site or the stationed Sudanese archaeologist that provide the accommodation to the missions. And in some other regions, like it was the case in the Fourth Cataract, the sparsity of the population did not allow many options: in the following photo, a view of the Sudan Archaeological Research Society’s dig house at Ed Doma rented out by the only Manassir family resident in the locality!

3. And last but not least, it has become proverbial among the archaeologists of the Sudanese Nile Valley that the French (and Swiss) archaeological expeditions provide the best housing for resting after the hard fieldwork hours in the everyday heat waves of Northern Sudan…

Suffice it to say that we cannot wait to be back to Sai in January and enjoy the atmosphere of our French colleagues and our Sudanese collaborators in the dig house that the French have constructed since 1969, when they got the concession of the entire island under the direction of late professor Jean Vercoutter.

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2 Responses to Dig Houses of Nubia

  1. Thanks for referring to our website! it’s appreciated. If you don’t mind, we’ll add the houses you mention to our (growing) list of dighouses. Who knows, maybe, if we can find the time and funding, we could also write about the historical value these houses have.

    Best wishes,

    Marcel and Monica Maessen

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