Marea (Egypt), 2017


Basilica project and late antiquity building in Marea and its inhabitants

Dates of work: 1–25 November 2017

Director: Krzysztof Babraj, archaeologist (Archaeological Museum in Kraków)
Deputy Director: Prof. Tomasz Derda, papyrologist, epigrapher (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)
SCA representative: Mai Ibrahim Abed El Monem (archaeology), Amr Ibrahim Ali Noah, Director of the Fawzy el Fakhrany Storage Museum in Marea, Ashref Mohammed Abed El Samea (conservation), Mohamed Abdelbaset Ahmed (conservation), Sherif Ayman Saad Ahmad (survey)
Archaeologists: Anna Drzymuchowska, ceramologist (Archaeological Museum in Kraków), Dr. Mariusz Gwiazda (PCMA University of Warsaw), Aleksandra Pawlikowska (PhD Candidate, Faculty of History, University of Warsaw)
Architect: Daria Tarara, chief architect (freelance)
Numismatist: Dr. Piotr Jaworski (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)
Glass expert: Renata Kucharczyk (PCMA UW)
Conservator: Tomasz Skrzypiec (freelance)
Survey: Prof. Krzysztof Misiewicz (Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)

Continued exploration of the great Basilica concentrated on the north entrance and staircase in the northwest corner of the church. A few marble pavement slabs still remained in evidence of the original interior decoration, whereas the inner walls of the staircase revealed impressions of wooden beams from the steps. Another section was excavated of the stylobate supporting the columns separating the northern aisle from the nave; the negative impressions of four columns were delineated, spaced at 230 cm apart. Further fieldwork was also undertaken in the domestic building (H1) located east of the basilica, focusing on completing the exploration of the installation in room T1, the documentation of the architectural stratigraphy of walls and floors, additional orthophotographs and 3D models, and recording of small finds.

The ceramic material consisted mainly of amphorae: local LRA 5/6 (produced in Abu Mena) dated to the 6th–7th century, amphorae types Kellia 187–190, Kellia 167 and LRA 7 (types 173–177) from the 6th–8th centuries, LRA 7, AE 3 and AE 4 from earlier phases at the site, as well as imported LRA 1. The largest assemblage came from the staircase. The material also included ERSW A tableware, fragments of bowls, plates, water jugs (gullas) and scarce fragments of kitchenware (“pans”, lids, cooking pots), storage pots and lids. The pottery assemblage recovered from building H1 in seasons 2014 and 2016 was fully documented. The collection of coins from recent excavations was also cleaned and studied.

A field survey was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of geophysical methods for locating archaeological features preserved in the vicinity of the basilica. A total of 7600 m2 were surveyed using the magnetic method, and the resistivity survey was conducted in a sector of 1200 m2. The survey areas were positioned in geographical coordinate grid WGS 84 projection UTM (zone 35N: EPSG32635) based on a satellite image downloaded from the Google Earth website.

Text: Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 27/1


K. Babraj: Krzysztof.Babraj(at)