Paper No. 98-10
Presentation Time: 4:10 PM
PRECIOUS PAST VIEWED FROM 45 YEARS OF CHANGE - HIERAKONPOLIS ANCIENT EGYPTIAN TOWN AND TEMPLE
The Temple-Town Hierakonpolis Project in southern Egypt is multidisciplinary (Art History and Geosciences, emeriti of this university with colleagues in Egypt and Greece) investigating this site in its region. Hydrogeological, geophysical, and archaeological evidence permit assessment of change and vulnerability of the site and its contents to rising groundwater. The Temple-Town site occupies Nile farmland in the confluence of drainage system of gulley in the neighboring desert (Wadi Abu Sufian) and former Nile inundation. Irrigation and farming frame and impact the site but in 2004 we determined that the recent rise in ground water and accumulation of salt results from irrigation, land reclamation in the higher desert. Hierakonpolis became internationally famous with the palette of king Narmer found in 1897 within the ancient temple precinct of the main god, falcon god Horus. This important ancient site is recognized as belonging to the critical time of the early named kings such as Narmer and possibly a contributing to the development of kingship, predynastic – to early dynastic, by 3200 BCE. The Temple-Town Hierakonpolis Project is one of the few to study an early town with temple property and embraces a possible early palace with mud seal impressions from king Qaa, last king of Dynasty I. There are many constraints owing to high ground water. Once items are found, an artefact in ivory, porous pottery, or wood may be reduced to dust once the accompanying solid soil is removed. Salt accumulation coats freshly revealed occupation, rooms, and contents within a half hour canceling the vital photographic record. Infrequent sandstone items may be seen only as a sandy patch. Climate change may be responsible for recent rare rainfall in January 2011 and 2013 that melts our carefully cleaned mudbrick architecture.