Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wadi el-Hudi Expedition

Wadi el-Hudi Expedition
Wadi el-Hudi is an area of Egypt's Eastern Desert southeast of Aswan  that, in ancient times, was a center for mining because of its unique geology. It contains dozens of archaeological sites that stand like time capsules in the desert, which date from the Paleolithic Period (about 200,000 years ago) to the Islamic Period (about 500-1,000 years ago). Ancient Egyptian monuments and artifacts are the most prevalent, consisting of fortified settlements, amethyst mines, and rock inscriptions built during the Middle Kingdom (between 3,700 and 4,000 years ago) and the Roman Period (circa 2050-1600 years ago). The state of preservation of the archaeology is astonishing: walls stand to their original heights of two meters, ancient pottery covers the surface, and many inscriptions are carved into boulders surrounding the mines. Prior to our expedition, geologists and archaeologists had inspected Wadi el-Hudi only intermittently since 1917 when Geologist Labib Nassim discovered the ancient archaeological sites. In the 1940s, the Egyptologist Ahmed Fakhry conducted a survey of the area, where he identified 14 archaeological sites and recorded over 100 inscriptions. In the 1990s, the sites were also visited by Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson, Rosemarie Klemm, and Dietrich Klemm as parts of larger studies of Ancient Egyptian mining operations. But with the work of the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition, many more of these monuments have been recorded and in much greater detail. Since 2014, the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition has been mapping, documenting, and excavating 39 archaeological sites so far discovered. 

The Wadi el-Hudi Expedition was launched in 2014 to record and conserve the monuments and artifacts at Wadi el-Hudi. Prior work there published only half of the surviving inscriptions and did not investigate the greatest part of the archaeology. Nevertheless, Wadi el-Hudi has historically significant information for the history of Egypt and the organization of the Ancient Egyptian government. Indeed, far beyond its importance for the study of mining expeditions, Wadi el-Hudi has the potential to change much of what we know about the political and social history of all of Ancient Egypt...

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