Posted by: iMalqata Blog | February 11, 2017

Traffic Patterns

Peter Lacovara

Working in the field at Malqata gives us a much better idea of how the community may have been planned and functioned. The published maps and plans do not convey how much the ancient Egyptians used and altered the topography of the site in constructing the Palace-City. For example, people have wondered how the massive harbor, the Birket Habu, was integrated into the site. Unlike the quays and ceremonial harbors at the temples of Medinet Habu and Karnak, the Birket is not centered on any architectural feature. The palaces are situated at the north end of the harbor and there appears to be little on line with what was the symmetrical entrance to the harbor from the Nile. Barry Kemp has suggested that the debris in Site K came from an earlier palace that may have been positioned to the west of mounds B10 and B11, which would have placed it at the median line of the Birket as it is now, but he also suggested this palace was destroyed in a later expansion of the harbor to its present form. In any case, the mounds are regularly spaced with no well-defined route of access to land.


Fig. 1: Route from the Birket Habu to the palace complexes

While this might be surprising when one is thinking of the grand approaches to Egyptian temple and mortuary architecture, it is not if we consider it in the context of domestic architecture. A common feature of both palaces and houses is an off–axis entry, and palaces in particular had long, turning entrance corridors for security. Given this design then, one can easily see the stretch running between the mounds heading north and connecting perpendicular to the wadi between the Palace of the King and the North Palace as an entrance corridor. Even in Amenhotep III’s peaceful reign it was still considered important to restrict access to the royal residence. The two rows of mounds then would have been deliberately designed to produce this feature and were not just simply landscaping, as has been suggested.

The wadi between the palaces directly lines up with the portal known as the West Gate and intersects the ancient road running north-south. This juncture has been remarked upon by David O’Connor as the axes mundi, a term coined by Paul Wheatley in his discussion of ancient Chinese cities, which represent the the cosmos in their layout. This pattern can also be seen at Tell el-Amarna, which may have been following the pattern established by Malqata.


Fig. 2: Route from the Palace complexes to the main road

Although the wadi runs along the north end of the palace, it does not appear to formally connect with it. The main entry would have been through House West 1 (Ho.W.1) that was appended to the entrance corridor at the northwest end of the palace enclosure; there may have been additional conduits to get food and goods to the kitchens and magazines on the east end of the palace complex, but so far, they are not evident.



  1. The article of today was very interesting.
    Go on please!

  2. Very cool.

  3. absolutely fascinating, thank you

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