Peter Lacovara and Janice Kamrin
Today after work some of us made a field trip to the site of Deir el-Ballas, about which we blogged in 2014 (https://imalqata.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/a-visit-to-another-palace-city/). This site is interesting to us for many reasons. For one thing, it it is a Palace-City, like Malqata, but is much earlier, dating to the Second Intermediate Period and the very beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty. It is also a reminder of how fortunate we are that the Antiquities Service (thanks to Zahi Hawass and Mustafa Waziry!) had a wall constructed to protect Malqata. Deir el-Ballas has no such protection, and has suffered from the uncontrolled expansion of the modern town of Ed-Deir.
Deir el-Ballas was originally excavated in 1900 to 1901 by the Phoebe A. Hearst Expedition of the University of California under the direction of George A. Reisner. During one season’s work, Reisner uncovered the remains of a large royal palace, which he named the North Palace, and a massive watchtower at the Theban end of the site, which he called the South Palace. In addition, he cleared a series of cemeteries, villas, and a workmen’s settlement. Unfortunately, these excavations were never published and Reisner’s field notes were so brief that any in-depth study of the excavation is impossible.
In order to understand the site better, Peter undertook four seasons of survey and clearance (in l980, l983, 1984 and 1986) under the sponsorship of the American Research Center and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Since the 1980’s, many significant features of the site have been damaged or destroyed. It is hoped that The Ancient Egyptian Heritage and Archaeology Fund can work with the Antiquities Inspectorate in Qena to define those areas threatened by urban expansion and devise strategies to protect them from encroachment. It will be vital to act soon to undertake the stabilization, protection and preservation of these important monuments.
January 11, 2016