Marea (Egypt), 2013

Marea (Egypt)

Dates of work: 20 August – 20 October 2013

Director: Krzysztof Babraj (Archaeological Museum in Kraków)
MSA representative: Abd Alaziz Mohamed Said
Archaeologists: Assoc. Prof. Tomasz Derda (Department of Papyrology, Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw), Anna Drzymuchowska (Archaeological Museum in Kraków), Elena Marinova-Wolff (Center for Archaeological Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Dr. Dagmara Wielgosz-Rondolino (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)
Architects: Andrzej Kutiak, architect, art history post-graduate student (Faculty of Art History, Jagiellonian University), Katarzyna Rozmus (Universidad Politecnica de Valencia trainee), Daria Tarara, chief architect (freelance)
Specialists: Tomasz Górecki, pottery expert (National Museum in Warsaw), Piotr Jaworski, numismatist (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw), Dr. Nina Willburger, glass expert (Landesmuseum in Stuttgart)
Restorers: Joanna Babraj (Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków), Tomasz Skrzypiec (Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków)
Civil engineer: Dr. Janusz Kogut (Kraków University of Technology)

(Joint description of seasons 2012 and 2013)

Exploration continued of an early Christian basilica, which is the second largest known from Egypt, dated to the 5th–7th century. The Project has cleared further stretches of the main body of the church, as well as the so-called shops to the southwest. Petrographic studies of the marble of the numerous elements of architectural decoration from the basilica demonstrated extensive use of imported stone, coming from the Proconessis quarries, Euboeia, Teos, Chios and other Greek islands. Conservation work included cleaning of the numerous coins found in previous seasons.

The architecture provisionally cleared in 2011 to the east and southeast of the apse of the basilica started to be investigated. A house with paved courtyard, on the edges of which a large deposit of ostraka was discovered in 2011, was now cleared, uncovering the southern part (24 m by 26 m) with a staircase, a well with notches for climbing down and a cistern. A wide street separated this building from architecture located closer to quay III. To the east of this compound, a latrine consisting of three compartments stood at the edge of the lake. The channels of the latrine yielded an abundance of cooking pottery and jars from the 6th–7th century and amphorae from a longer period from the 6th through 8th century.

More ostraka were found in the general area of the deposit discovered previously. It could have formed an archive of some kind, considering the same general theme and a certain haste in taking down notes concerning craftsmen and their pay. It is possible that the house was occupied by the master builder directing the construction of the basilica.

Work was conducted under an agreement between the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, and the Archaeological Museum in Kraków, with extra funding provided generously by Mrs. Hélène Zaleski. The cooperation of Mustafa Mohamed Roshdy, General Director of the Alexandrian Antiquities Department, and the generous help of Samiha Noshy Rafla, General Director of Foreign Excavations in Alexandria, are gratefully acknowledged.

[Text: Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 24/1]

K. Babraj: