Marea

Marea

  • Project name:

    Marea Mission

    Facebook:

    Marea Archaeological Project

    Academia.edu:

    Marea Archaeological Project

  • Type of site:

    Settlement: city, harbor

    Location:

    Egypt
    Mareotis Region
    On the shore of Lake Maryut, 45 km west of Alexandria

    Dating:

    – Hellenistic period – a jetty built of stone blocks bonded with metal dovetail cramps (1st century BC)
    – Roman period – pottery kiln in the apse of the basilica (1st–2nd century)
    – Late antique-Byzantine period (5th–8th century)

Most interesting finds:

– funerary chapel from the 5th–6th century AD
– baths from the 6th century AD, with a water wheel drawing water from a well (so-called saqiyah)
– early Byzantine basilica dating to the 5th–8th century AD
– three jetties, the longest of which measures 125 m and is located near the basilica
– outbuildings behind the basilica
– one of the largest sets of ostraca discovered in Egypt – 180 pottery fragments with inscriptions

History of research:

Dates of PCMA mission’s work:

2000–

Type of research:

Excavations, conservation work

Directors:

Hanna Szymańska (2000–2010)
Krzysztof Babraj, Archaeological Museum of Kraków (2011–2019)
Tomasz Derda, Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw (since 2019)

Co-operating institutions:

– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Archaeological Museum of Kraków
and
– Bronisław Markiewicz, State Higher School of Technology and Economics in Jarosław
– Tadeusz Kościuszko, University of Technology in Kraków

Description of the site and research:

Marea is an ancient city located to the south-west of Alexandria, on the shore of Lake Mareotis (Maryut). It is known from classical historical sources: Herodotus (II, 30,2), Diodorus Siculus (I, 68) and Thucydides (I, 104).
In antiquity, Marea was an important harbor and trading center. It was famous for its excellent wine which was distributed throughout the Mediterranean Basin. The proposed identification of the site as Philoxenite, a city founded by a consul during the reign of the emperor Anastasius (491-518 AD), is still doubtful. It was suggested by Mieczysław Rodziewicz, who based his hypothesis on survey results and the location of the site.

Thanks to its location, the city was an important harbor in the Roman and Byzantine periods, but it had probably existed already in the Ptolemaic period. Since Lake Mareotis was connected with the Nile and the coast by a network of canals, products from Upper Egypt reached the harbor on its shore. Four long jetties built of stone ashlars bonded with waterproof mortar are evidence of the port’s significance. The longest of the jetties is 125 m long.

In 2003, research began in the Byzantine basilica in Marea, the second largest in Egypt. Objects discovered there date from the end of the 5th to the beginning of the 8th century, i.e., the heyday of the city. Under the apse and part of the presbytery, a huge pottery kiln from the Roman period was found. It is one of the largest kilns discovered in Egypt to date. The builders of the basilica used its fragments in the foundations of the apse.

A bath complex with a water wheel drawing water from a well (so-called saqiyah) was uncovered near the basilica. Further to the south stood a funerary chapel; both structures date to the 6th century. Behind the apse, there was a group of buildings identified as storerooms, shops, workshops, and houses. It yielded the largest known set of ostraca from the 5th–6th century, inscribed with notes regarding the building of the basilica.

Project bibliography:

See also the Project’s profile on Academia.edu

Babraj, K. and Kogut, J. (2015). Late-Roman and early-Bizantyne analogues of structures in Marea/Philoxenite. Materiały Archeologiczne, 40, 87–100.
Babraj, K., Drzymuchowska, A. and Willburger, N. (2014). Marea 2011. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 23/1, 45–62.
Babraj, K. and Szymańska, H. (2013). Badania bazylik i mol w Marei w Egipcie. Materiały Archeologiczne, 39, 169–177.
Babraj, K. et al. (2013). Eleventh season of excavations at Marea (2010) with appendix: The harbor jetties of Marea. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 22, 55–78.
Kogut, J. (2013). Numerical modeling of response and analysis of the ancient pottery kiln from Marea (Egypt). Materiały Archeologiczne, 39, 55–58.
Drzymuchowska, A. (2012). Marea 2009: Pottery from the excavations. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 21, 72–77.
Babraj, K., Kogut, J. and Zięba, K. (2012). Numerical modeling of response and analysis of the ancient pottery kiln from Marea (Egypt) due to the soil loading. AGH Journal of Mining and Geoengineering 36/1, 203–209.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2012). Marea. Report 2009. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 21, 59–71.
Drzymuchowska, A. (2011). Marea 2008: Pottery from the excavations. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 20, 97–101.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2011). Marea: excavations 2008. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 20, 81–96.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2010). Marea 2007. Eighth season of excavations. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 19, 71–76.
Wrońska-Kucy, B. (2010). Conservation work at Marea in 2007. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 19, 77–80.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2008). Marea: Report on the excavations of the Polish Archaeological Mission in 2006. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 18, 51–61.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2008). Rozwój starożytnego miasta Marea w Egipcie na tle warunków środowiska. Zeszyty Naukowe Szkoły Wyższej Przymierza Rodzin w Warszawie, Seria Geograficzno-Turystyczna, 1, 7–25.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2008). Byzantine Marea Excavations in 2000–2003 and 2006. Marea 1 (=Biblioteka Muzeum Archeologicznego w Krakowie 4), Kraków.
Wrońska-Kucy, B. (2008). Conservation work at Marea in 2006. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 18, 62–67.
Kucharczyk, R. (2006). Late Roman/Early Byzantine glass from the basilica in Marea, 2004. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 17, 70–74.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2006). Marea: sixth season of excavations. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 17, 55–66.
Wrońska-Kucy, B. (2006). Marea 2005: Masonry conservation report. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 17, 67–69.
Kucharczyk, R. (2005). Glass finds from the basilica in Marea, 2004. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 16, 55–59.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2005). Marea: Excavations 2004. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 16, 43–54.
Kucharczyk, R. (2004). The glass finds from the basilica in Marea, 2003. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 15, 63–66.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2004). The ancient port of Marea, Egypt. Minerva, 15/3, 26–28.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2004). Körperpflege mit allem Konfort. Die Ruine eines Bades am Maryut-See in Ägypten sprechen für einen hohen technischen Standard in byzantinischer Zeit. Antike Welt, 35/6, 21–28.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2004). Marea: Fourth season of excavations. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 15, 53–62.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2003). Marea: Season 2002. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 14, 39–48.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2003). Fouilles archéologiques de Marea en Egypte saison 2000–2001. Archeologia, 53, 2002, 137–144.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2003). Wstępny raport z wykopalisk w Marei w Egipcie. Sierpień–wrzesień 2002. Materiały Archeologiczne, 34, 159–164.
Majcherek, G. (2002). Marea 2001: Note on the pottery. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 13, 60–64.
Kucharczyk, R. (2002). Marea 2001: Windowpanes and other glass finds. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 13, 65–71.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2002). Marea: Second interim report, 2001. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 13, 45–53.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2001). Marea: First interim report, 2000. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 12, 35–45.
Szymańska, H. and Babraj, K. (2001). Marea am Maryut-See, die erste Grabungssaison, Herbst 2000. Kemet, 10/3, 65–69.

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