Berenike (Egypt), 2015

Berenike (Egypt)


Dates of work: 17 December 2014–10 February 2015

Qift storeroom post-season studies: 15–26 February 2015

Co-directors: Prof. Steven E. Sidebotham, archaeologist, numismatist (University of Delaware), Iwona Zych, archaeologist (PCMA UW)
SCA Inspectors: Mahmoud Ahmed Husein (Berenike Project), Mohamed Zaraad (Qift storeroom project)
Archaeologists: Marta Bajtler (PhD candidate, Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Center, University of Warsaw), Nicholas Bartos (PhD candidate, University of Oxford), Ignacio Crespo de Liñeiro (Argos Arqueologia), Roderick Geerts (independent; Temple of Serapis team), Martin Hense, Temple of Serapis Project head (independent), Silva Kluiterman (independent; Temple of Serapis team), Michał Musiał (independent), Bonnie Nilhamn (independent; Temple of Serapis team), Joan Oller Guzman (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Piotr Osypiński Patrimonium Foundation, Poznań), Jo-Hannah Plug (independent; Temple of Serapis team), Joanna K. Rądkowska (PhD candidate, Polish Ministry of Education Scholarship holder, PCMA UW), Marzena Romaniuk (Historical Museum of Warsaw), Alicja Wieczorek (PCMA UW), Marek Woźniak (Polish Ministry of Education scholarship holder, PCMA UW; PhD candidate, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences), Anna Zgoda-Musiał (independent)
Field conservation: Delia Eguilluz Maestro (independent)
Ceramological processing and studies: Dr. Roberta S. Tomber, chief ceramologist (British Museum), Agnieszka Dzwonek (Polish Ministry of Education scholarship holder, PCMA UW), Katarzyna Pawłowska, pottery assistant (independent)
Metal artefactual studies: Martin Hense, Silva Kluiterman (both independent)
Numismatics: Prof. Steven E. Sidebotham (University of Delaware)
Textile research: Alexandra Plesa (PhD candidate. LIAS, Leiden University)
Lamp studies: Iwona Zych (PCMA UW), Monika Więch (PhD candidate, Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Center, University of Warsaw); Dr. Michał Krueger, mobile spectrometry specialist (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)
Geological studies: Prof. Cornelius Passchier, Sven Meyer (both Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
Archaeobotanists: Assoc. Prof. Jarosław Zieliński (independent); Nicholas Bartos, trainee (PhD candidate, University of Oxford)
Archaeozoologist: Dr. Marta Osypińska (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznań)
Geophysics survey: Dawid Święch (freelance)
Project documentation staff:
Registrar: Iwona Zych with assistance from Katarzyna Prystupa (volunteer), Marta Bajtler, Anna Zgoda-Musiał and Katarzyna Pawłowska
Photographers and documentalists: Kamila Braulińska (independent), Delia Eguilluz Maestro (freelance), Katarzyna Pawłowska (independent), Steven E. Sidebotham (University of Delaware), Teresa Witkowska (MOYO)
Architect: Jean-Louis Rivard (MicroPublica, Canada)
Volunteers: Katarzyna Przystupa (Poland)

(Joint description of seasons 2014 and 2015)

The report brings a comprehensive summary of the archaeological fieldwork and survey carried out at the site of the harbor of Berenike on the Red Sea coast of Egypt and in the Eastern Desert hinterland over the course of two seasons in 2014 and 2015. The completed magnetic map of the site is discussed in some detail, assessing the potential for future excavations. The report covers the most important discoveries of the two seasons, which include fragments of Middle Kingdom Pharaonic stelae, possibly pushing back the foundation of the harbor, archaeological evidence of a rock-cut water-collection system forming part of the Hellenistic-age fortifications and two inscribed stone bases, mentioning secretaries of the frankincense warehouses of Berenike, discovered still in place in the courtyard of the Great Temple of Berenike (also called the Serapis Temple).

A previously unknown religious(?) complex was discovered on the western outskirts of the site thanks to work with Corona satellite imagery. In turn, analysis of the magnetic mapping of the city revealed an administrative(?) complex in the northern part of the town; the later, 5th and 6th century layers were examined inside a chamber with niche forming part of this complex. Work also continued in the early Roman harbor, uncovering among others a complete timber ship frame, and a collection of garnets in subsidiary buildings in the late Roman temenos located in the entrance to the southwestern bay.

The Berenike Project in the 2014 and 2015 seasons was funded by the Honor Frost Foundation (Great Britain), the History Department of the University of Delaware, Institute of Global Studies (University of Delaware), Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (University of Delaware) and the Seeger Family Fund held by the Arizona Community Foundation in Phoenix, AZ. A grant from the British Academy helped to cover the costs of the pottery study project. On the Polish side, contributors to the Project included the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw (which is also responsible for providing ground support in Egypt) and the Polish Ministry of Education (bursaries for team members). The Wadi Khashab Project was funded from the Polish National Science Center grant NCN UMO-2012/07/N/MS3/04056. Private support came from Ms Elizabeth DeVries, Exxon-Mobil, Mr. Johannes Girardi of the Gorgonia Beach Resort in Marsa Alam, Mr. Tomasz M. Herbich of Warsaw, Ms Ewa Markiton of Warsaw, Mr. Marshall (Clay) Parsons, Mr. Norman Shelly, Mr. Steven E. Sidebotham and Mrs. Mary S. Sidebotham, the Late Mr. Thomas Sidebotham and Ms Iwona Zych.

The TopCon tachymeter used in 2014 was provided generously by the Patrimonium Foundation in Poznań, whereas the instrument used in 2015 was kindly made available by Dr. Krzysztof Babraj from the Marea Archaeological Mission. Special thanks are due Tomasz M. Herbich, who has regularly and generously invested his time and resources in bringing the magnetic prospection of the site to successful completion.

Text: Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 25

E. Sidebotham: ses(at)
I. Zych: i.zych(at)