El-Kom el-Ahmar is an archaeological site in central Egypt, 3 km south of the village of Sharuna in a relatively archaeologically unexplored area. Written records record it as the capital of the 18th Upper Egyptian nome with its name, Hw.t-nsw, documented up until the Ptolemaic period. The Coptic name for this settlement however is unknown, but the archaeological records show continual habitation of the area from the Old Kingdom up to the late Roman/Byzantine period.
The aim of this project, which is kindly supported by the DFG and since 2006 the Museu Egipci de Barcelona, Fundaciò Arqueològica Clos, is investigating the structures of the buildings and classifying the settlement chronologically, economically and topographically. Excavations will mainly be focused on the settlement mound, the cliff necropolis and the late Roman/Byzantine sacred complex, the latter of which is comprises a tomb church in the valley and hermitages in the desert. The geological investigations which will be carried out at the same time are also a fundamental part of this project.
Since the discovery of a funerary church and its monastic complex the focus of the research has shifted to the largely neglected Late Roman / Byzantine period. Digs at the church, one of the few fully excavated funerary churched in Egypt, are now completed. The foundations were laid on top of a saint’s grave, which made it very desirable for believers to be buried nearby - ad sanctum. Accordingly, the inner rooms are densely paved with over two hundred graves and the surrounding cemetery reaches two hundred metres in each direction. In total over a thousand graves have been excavated, and the density of burials suggests that originally the cemetery would have encompassed as many as ten thousand.
Béatrice Huber (beatrice.huber) @uni-tuebingen.de
Institut für die Kulturen des alten Orients (IANES)
Abteilung für Ägyptologie Universität Tübingen