Posted by: imalqata | February 12, 2013

Everywhere the glint of sherds

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Annie Shanley in the sherd scatter.

One enigmatic feature of the site is a huge area over 72,000 square meters that is a vast deposit of potsherds.  Looking at the sherds they are very large, and mostly from amphora and other storage vessels.  The site is located out in the desert, southwest of Malqata near a deep wadi.  There are no mud bricks associated with them, so this does not appear to be settlement.  It is very wide and far from the sites of excavation and habitation, so it is unlikely to be a dump, either ancient or modern.  No bones are visible, so it seems unlikely to be a cemetery, though the sherds do cluster around small pits in the desert surface.  This is another mystery at the site, which will require some future excavation to unravel.

Interestingly, with all these sherds, one type, which should be common, is entirely absent. There are no bread molds, the rough pottery tubes that were disposable after the bread was baked – much like the paper on a muffin or cupcake.  In most settlement and temple sites there are vast mounds of bread molds, however at Malqata they are strangely absent – everywhere.  This may illustrate that the site was only occupied for a brief time and all the food was brought in and not prepared there.


A New Kingdom breadmold in the Michael C. Carlos Museum, photograph courtesy of Stacey Gannon-Wright.

Even for a site that has been excavated again and again for over a century, there are still many discoveries to be made and questions to be answered.  Hopefully in future seasons we will be able to solve at least some of these riddles.


Peter Lacovara



  1. Most interesting. Several scenarios come to mind:
    1. Use of ovens in which the dough is ‘slapped’ onto the inside of the oven – a sketch of this can be found in R.III-s tomb, kitchen scene.
    2. A centralized bakery
    3. A with M. Habu, as you suggest, brought from the outside.

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