The 2018 fieldwork was long enough to consent both archaeological and restoration activities and to go on with the topographical survey in order to provide a complete and georeferenced map of the site. It was also possible to start an overall pottery survey, and to conduct a preliminary investigation of the area immediately South of the town wall. The thorough survey of the selected Areal Units allowed us to confirm some preliminary considerations about the Northern Sector complex raised from the 2014 campaign. The complex appears as composed of two long rows of buildings, realised in successive phases. All the AUs selected for investigation in the 2018 survey pertain to our Pattern 2 (Pirelli et alii 2017), where the northern row is occupied by a cell (HU) and the southern one appears as an extension of it, and is formed by an open court that, in later phases, was completed with some service structures32. However, we realised that this pattern is more various than we expected based on the observations of the 2014 survey. All the HUs that we have surveyed (AU 2, 3, 833 and 26) belong to type 1, and underwent lesser changes through time, both architecturally and structurally. They were originally completed in the South by a simple open court, which was limited, on the East, West and probably also South sides by thin walls (12/14cm) intended ideally to separate the monks from each other, however without creating an effective isolation and without forcing them to be really independent. Actually, as far as we could observe, during the first phase, none of the HUs was furnished with hearths, external storerooms, wells or basins. It was in a second phase that important changes occurred in the open courts in front of the cells, some of them common to all the observed AUs, others differentiating them from each other. In most cases, the West walls were reinforced to host niches with embedded vases, hearths, and store-boxes, while the floors were raised and sometimes paved with limestone slabs and reused architectural ceramic, granite and limestone elements, not only from the first Christian phase, but also from the Pharaonic period (AU3S, AU8/9). In a third phase, some walls were reinforced once more to support staircases that were to give access to upper (AU3S) or underground storerooms (AU8/9S1); it is likely that the addition of these storerooms caused the closing of some of the annex rooms of the underground space of the cells. The preliminary observations on (baked and unbaked) bricks, building techniques and plaster types demonstrate that the major architectural changes also correspond to different qualities of materials and to different degrees of accuracy in realising and/or repairing structures (B.2 and 3). The newly discovered texts and stone architectural elements point, once more, to a lively and refined cultural environment and a long and complex history of the monastery, which are also confirmed by the first results of the two pottery surveys. They were conducted in different areas of the site and with different approaches (see above B5 and 6) and notably enrich our data on this category of material, as the study in 2014 included only complete and mostly decorated items kept in the storehouse of el-Ashmunein. The samples analysed on the site, by contrast, were diagnostic fragments belonging to more varied types, mostly ranging from the late 4th/early 5th to the 7th century, and belong both to Egyptian original and imitation production and to imports. As to the Egyptian production, several items could be attributed to well known Saqqara and Assuan types, but several different wares collected all over the site - including the area of the southern dump - point to the possibility that a local production also occurred. The imported wares interestingly draw a noteworthy network of - direct or indirect - relations and trade with not only Gaza and Proconsular Africa, but also with Cilician and eastern Mediterranean ports, as the abundant presence of fragments of LR1 demonstrates. The chronological time span of some of them seems to confirm that the origin of the site dates back far beyond the 6th century, and this is pointed to also by some monumental remnants of structures both in the Central Sector of the site34 and outside the southern side of the town wall (Fig. 45)35. On the other hand, many reused materials of the Pharaonic period found in different areas of the site also suggest the closeness to structures of much older times. As expected (Pirelli 2019), the survey of the large dump, South of the town wall, proved to be highly productive. The pottery and topographical surveys carried out in this area revealed a very complex situation that needs to be investigated more in depth, but the presence of different structures (see B.5, B.6 and note 35) and numerous fragments of burnt ceramics and bricks burnt by overexposure to heat - among the large amount of stratified pottery fragments and ashes - already make it possible to suggest that a productive area and kilns were present here, although their specific nature cannot be yet determined. An important part of the activities of the last campaign was dedicated to restoration and conservation questions. The analyses of the materials and techniques employed both in paintings and in buildings were aimed at two main objectives: carrying out urgent interventions on the fragile and threatened paintings and mud brick structures of the selected AUs (see above D), and making a master-plan of conservative restoration of the whole complex, also functional to a proposal of site management.

The Italian Egyptian Project of Study and Conservation of the Monastery of Abba Nefer at Manqabad 2018 - 5th Campaign

Rosanna Pirelli;Angela Bosco;Andrea D’Andrea;Ilaria Incordino;Stefania Mainieri;
2018

Abstract

The 2018 fieldwork was long enough to consent both archaeological and restoration activities and to go on with the topographical survey in order to provide a complete and georeferenced map of the site. It was also possible to start an overall pottery survey, and to conduct a preliminary investigation of the area immediately South of the town wall. The thorough survey of the selected Areal Units allowed us to confirm some preliminary considerations about the Northern Sector complex raised from the 2014 campaign. The complex appears as composed of two long rows of buildings, realised in successive phases. All the AUs selected for investigation in the 2018 survey pertain to our Pattern 2 (Pirelli et alii 2017), where the northern row is occupied by a cell (HU) and the southern one appears as an extension of it, and is formed by an open court that, in later phases, was completed with some service structures32. However, we realised that this pattern is more various than we expected based on the observations of the 2014 survey. All the HUs that we have surveyed (AU 2, 3, 833 and 26) belong to type 1, and underwent lesser changes through time, both architecturally and structurally. They were originally completed in the South by a simple open court, which was limited, on the East, West and probably also South sides by thin walls (12/14cm) intended ideally to separate the monks from each other, however without creating an effective isolation and without forcing them to be really independent. Actually, as far as we could observe, during the first phase, none of the HUs was furnished with hearths, external storerooms, wells or basins. It was in a second phase that important changes occurred in the open courts in front of the cells, some of them common to all the observed AUs, others differentiating them from each other. In most cases, the West walls were reinforced to host niches with embedded vases, hearths, and store-boxes, while the floors were raised and sometimes paved with limestone slabs and reused architectural ceramic, granite and limestone elements, not only from the first Christian phase, but also from the Pharaonic period (AU3S, AU8/9). In a third phase, some walls were reinforced once more to support staircases that were to give access to upper (AU3S) or underground storerooms (AU8/9S1); it is likely that the addition of these storerooms caused the closing of some of the annex rooms of the underground space of the cells. The preliminary observations on (baked and unbaked) bricks, building techniques and plaster types demonstrate that the major architectural changes also correspond to different qualities of materials and to different degrees of accuracy in realising and/or repairing structures (B.2 and 3). The newly discovered texts and stone architectural elements point, once more, to a lively and refined cultural environment and a long and complex history of the monastery, which are also confirmed by the first results of the two pottery surveys. They were conducted in different areas of the site and with different approaches (see above B5 and 6) and notably enrich our data on this category of material, as the study in 2014 included only complete and mostly decorated items kept in the storehouse of el-Ashmunein. The samples analysed on the site, by contrast, were diagnostic fragments belonging to more varied types, mostly ranging from the late 4th/early 5th to the 7th century, and belong both to Egyptian original and imitation production and to imports. As to the Egyptian production, several items could be attributed to well known Saqqara and Assuan types, but several different wares collected all over the site - including the area of the southern dump - point to the possibility that a local production also occurred. The imported wares interestingly draw a noteworthy network of - direct or indirect - relations and trade with not only Gaza and Proconsular Africa, but also with Cilician and eastern Mediterranean ports, as the abundant presence of fragments of LR1 demonstrates. The chronological time span of some of them seems to confirm that the origin of the site dates back far beyond the 6th century, and this is pointed to also by some monumental remnants of structures both in the Central Sector of the site34 and outside the southern side of the town wall (Fig. 45)35. On the other hand, many reused materials of the Pharaonic period found in different areas of the site also suggest the closeness to structures of much older times. As expected (Pirelli 2019), the survey of the large dump, South of the town wall, proved to be highly productive. The pottery and topographical surveys carried out in this area revealed a very complex situation that needs to be investigated more in depth, but the presence of different structures (see B.5, B.6 and note 35) and numerous fragments of burnt ceramics and bricks burnt by overexposure to heat - among the large amount of stratified pottery fragments and ashes - already make it possible to suggest that a productive area and kilns were present here, although their specific nature cannot be yet determined. An important part of the activities of the last campaign was dedicated to restoration and conservation questions. The analyses of the materials and techniques employed both in paintings and in buildings were aimed at two main objectives: carrying out urgent interventions on the fragile and threatened paintings and mud brick structures of the selected AUs (see above D), and making a master-plan of conservative restoration of the whole complex, also functional to a proposal of site management.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11574/191684
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