Saturday, November 08, 2008

Karanis target of 1st Archaeology Field for US Undergrads the UCLA students, exploring the sprawling agricultural settlement that was Karanis and uncovering plant remains and animal bones from the fourth through sixth centuries is turning into the trip of a lifetime.

[Karanis textile]

Just two weeks into the dig, the field school has made some new discoveries.

"Based on dates in Greek papyri previously found at Karanis, the city was thought to have been abandoned in the fourth century … but the section we are working on dates from the fourth to the sixth centuries, which expands the occupation of Karanis by approximately two centuries," Wendrich said. "It certainly was rural, but it was also a large town, in which the inhabitants, mostly small landowners, created a comfortable life for themselves."

There are more mysteries to uncover, she added.

"One of the main mysteries is how the city inhabitants were provided with water," Wendrich said. "Karanis lies in the desert at the edge of the Fayum depression, and there were several canals that ran near the town. To date, six bath houses have been identified, but it is as yet unclear how the water from the canals reached the town."

Karanis is now believed to have been inhabited from 300 BC to the sixth century. The field school is uncovering plant remains, animal bones, textiles, basketry, leather and fragments of papyrus.

It's all part of the adventure of being in Egypt's first officially sanctioned field school for American undergraduates. See UCLA Egypt Archaeology blog for personal experiences.

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