We have been working this season in a previously unexcavated part of the site that we are calling the West Settlement. Identified during a magnetometer survey in 2012, this lies northwest of the North Village and just east of “Trench P,” a long southeast-northwest trench excavated by Barry Kemp in 1974.
The team’s surveyor for the first half of the season, Christopher Gray, set up a grid of 5 m x 5 m squares over an area of 25 meters square. As we began to excavate within this grid, we uncovered the traces of walls only a few centimeters below the surface. At first, it looked like these were just ghosts, as if they would disappear if the wind blew. And in fact, in the squares we have excavated so far, only the foundation bricks remain – the walls are never more than a single brick high, and in a few places they are gone completely. Perhaps Amenhotep III’s builders dismantled this entire area at some point and reused the bricks in other structures. Even so, the basic plan is clear: the defined spaces here are large and regular, much more so than in the North Village.
As we cleared further, especially in the northeastern squares, we came across mud surfaces at several levels. The lowest of these is even and well packed, and evidently represents the main or original floor. Above this in some places is what may be a second floor surface, or might be a fill of decayed mud brick. Palace ware dominates among the sherds we found. In one room, we uncovered a large deposit (probably dumped here from somewhere else) of broken vessels, which included half of a lovely large blue-painted jar (enough so we can determine its profile) and fragments from a number of red-slipped bowls of various sizes. Mixed with and under these pots was a lot of charcoal and many bones, including the remains of several small fish!
Among the artifacts we discovered were several that may link this site to the manufacturing area where Diana and Catharine are working: an awl of copper alloy, which was found next to a carnelian bead; the bit from a discarded awl, also of copper alloy; a bit of a glass cane; and several fragments of material with traces of glaze on them that look like they might have been used in a kiln.
So what was the function of this area? The jury is still out. Our best theory so far is that this was a storage area connected in some way to the manufacturing site Diana and Catharine are exploring. We hope to learn more in the seasons to come.