Related projects

Studying wood networks and craft in the First Cataract area

Project led by G. Eschenbrenner Diemer

The local wood art production of the Elephantine region, located at the southern end of Egypt and  far from the historical capital of Memphis, stands out from the rest of Egypt. In particular, pieces  decorated with variegated geometric patterns reflecting obvious southern influences illustrate the close contact between the Elephantine region and Nubia (now Sudan). This regional style, which makes the Aswan district one of the centres of what D. Wildung considers to be the “artistic school of Upper Egypt”, rubs shoulders with “official” Egyptian art which reached this area through the royal dispatch of highly qualified craftsmen to carry out large-scale local works, and is also represented by the presence of impressive objects made from woods imported from the north, in particular cedar from Lebanon, in the burials of the local elites. The plentiful archaeological material of this border area comes from the two archaeological missions: the necropolis studied within the framework of the “Qubbet el-Hawa Project” (University of Jaén, direction A. Jiménez-Serrano) and the excavations on the island of Elephantine (Swiss Institute, direction C. von Pilgrim) where the only two known wood workshops in Egypt dated to Dynasty 19 and 30 were discovered in 2017.

In order to compare the wooden objects discovered in the Elephantine region with those from Nubia, the study area will be extended to the Third Cataract of the Nile in Sudan. Research into the ancient wood found at the sites of Sedeinga and the island of Sai, as well as from the fortresses of Aniba, Mirgissa and Shalfak, founded by the Egyptians in Nubia during the Middle Kingdom (around 2100-1650 BC), will then allow an evaluation the interactions between Egypt and Nubia up to the Third Cataract.

This comparative study will enable an examination of the material, economic and social links between the city of Elephantine and the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa that functioned together from the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period (2700-30 BC). The comprehensive analysis of the wooden objects from the Elephantine region, including the cross-referencing of material and textual sources, will shed light on the artistic and economic connections between the Elephantine region and other territories, whether in other regions of Egypt or located in the south of the country.

The ongoing research on wood in the region of the First Cataract of the Nile is the subject of various conferences and publications (see List of publications).

Medjehu members involved:

Gersande Eschenbrenner Diemer, Egyptologist/Wood anatomist


Connected Archeological missions:

Elephantine; Qubbet el-Hawa