GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 186-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


KAUFMANN, Olivier1, MARTIN, Thierry2, DUPUIS, Christian3, AUBRY, Marie-Pierre4 and BERGGREN, William4, (1)Geology and Applied Geology Unit – Mining Geology, Universite de Mons, 20, Place du Parc, Mons, 7000, Belgium, (2)Geology and Applied Geology Unit – Mining Geology, University of Mons, 9 rue de Houdan, Mons, 1000, Belgium, (3)Geology and Applied Geology Unit – Mining Geology, University of Mons, 9 rue de Houdan, Mons, 1000, Belgium; Geology and Applied Geology Unit – Mining Geology, University of Mons, 9 rue de Houdan, Mons, 1000, Belgium, (4)Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, 610 Taylor Road, Wright-Rieman Laboratories, Piscataway, NJ 08854

Ancient Thebes on the West Bank of the Nile Valley opposite Luxor is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Located at the edge of the Eastern Desert it is dominated by the high cliffs of the Theban Plateau lined by low hills which are tilted blocks that became detached form the plateau during Pleistocene pluvial events. The Theban substratum consists of a trilogy of Paleogene limestone, shale and chalk. Most tombs of the Valley of the Kings were excavated in in situ Thebes Limestone but those of the Queens and Nobles were dug in displaced lithologies, including shale and chalk. This results in a complex geoarcheological mosaic best understood in the context of digital geological mapping, which necessitates consistent and reliable description of elevations. We have produced a digital elevation model (DEM) of the Theban Mountain based on elevation contours and benchmarks digitized from published topographic maps dating from the 20th century (survey of Egypt map, ~1920, 1:1000; French National Geographic Institute, 1964, 1:5000) using the Natural Neighbors Algorithm. It uses the international coordinates reference system EPSG3857 with a planimetric resolution of 5 m and can be easily used with widely available satellite imagery. We have transferred onto this DEM our (updated) published geological map (Dupuis et al., 2012, JAES) designed to assist archeologists in the preservation and management of the West Bank over a 2.5 km2 area encompassing from the edge of the Theban Plateau to that of the alluvial plain of the Nile to the NE and SW, and the Valley of the Queens and Northern Basin to the SE and NW. The data were acquired in the field over the past 10 years as part of the Theban GeoArcheological Project (TIGA) supported by the Supreme Council of the Antiquities of Egypt and the National Geographic Society. Our digital geological map enhances the benefits of the printed map, first by allowing continuous updates as new data become available, and, second, by characterizing more acutely those features which were subdued on the printed map. This involves in particular the folding of strata associated with the emplacement of the tilted blocks along the Theban cliffs and the Graben of the Valley of the Kings. We show how digital mapping will contribute essential information to the future management of Ancient Thebes.