Home      Kontakt
  German English History Bibliography  

A palatial complex of the early 15th Dynasty
(Stratum D/3)

by Irene Forster-Müller
  With the excavation in area F/II, probably for the first time in the history of the excavations at Tell el-Dabca, a palatial complex was found which can be linked to the ruling 15th dynasty, the Hyksos Kings.
The complex was built by agglutination but following a general master plan.
It extends to the West towards the modern Didamun canal and to the North towards area F/I. In the East and South it is confined by the Nile.
Due to its enormous extensions (app. 18000 m2) only a small part could be excavated. (fig. 1)
fig. 1

The building is orientated North-South, strikingly alike the palatial district of the 18th dynasty at cEzbet Helmi. Perhaps a tradition for building palaces in this part of the town had its origin here.
The building was altered several times.

As the lower levels have not been reached yet, it cannot be determined when the building was used for the first time. The final building can be dated into the early 15th dynasty and it was abandoned during the same period. This was assessed by a huge pit [L 81] which cuts into a courtyard of this district.
The complex was made of mudbricks of various sizes and in earlier phases sandbrick were used. In between the brick layers, reed mats were found, inserted to consolidate the bonding of the bricks and to avoid subsiding. Upon preliminary analysis, the building appears to consist of several parts (A-D) arranged around a tower [M49] (fig. 5). Structures A and B probably had an upper level with the tower serving as a shared distribution platform in a later phase.


Section A
The section in the northeastern part of the district (A) separates into a distinct unit. It seems to have an administrative function (offices?) with attached storage rooms. The original floors were made of sand bricks; unfortunately, no objects were found in situ in this part. Whereas the group of rooms in the southwest feature thick walls, suggesting a barrel-vault roofing over this part, the walls excavated so far in the north are thinner and thus must have been covered with flat roofs.
(Fig. 2). Section A is clearly separated from the rest of the complex. Besides three rectangular rooms of almost equal size (app. 11,7 x 2,5 m), [L23, L55, L59], a smaller room, [L12], (8,9 x 1,58 m) is situated in the North-West. These four rooms are connected by doors at their North-East, thus forming a corridor which is furthermore defined by a small wall in the two North-Eastern rooms. The central room is accessible from the North by an 1,3 m wide entrance which leads to a group of smaller rooms.
The rooms in the Southwest are made of walls of a size which allows to reconstruct a roofing with vaults. The walls of the rooms in the North are smaller, most probably covered by a flat roof. All rooms are paved with sand bricks. Furthermore a second floor is to be expected.
The function of section A is not clear, most probably it was an office with attached magazins.

fig. 2

Offering deposit
An offering deposit, L557, was disposed in the Eastern corner. It contained a fayence miniature cup, a necklace with fayence beads, a fayence tablet without inscription and a silver bracelet (fig. 3).
The objects had been deposited upon a layer of light yellow sand, which separates building A from a predecessor building which lies beneath.

fig. 3

Section B
Section B consists mainly of a 30m casemate building. Along its northwest side a corridor, either a staircase or a rampart leads to a landing which was later fortified to a tower [M 49].
The casemate construction encloses a courtyard [L 186] which is accessible from the tower [M 49] via an L-shaped staircase[M 81-83] (fig. 4). Besides the casemates rooms with original floors (lime floors) could be excavated. In the Southwest a magazin or cellar [L 177] was erected in a later phase.
Further to the Southwest a small square courtyard of 22 m size was built which was perhaps equipped with a colonnade recognizable by a pits of a column row aligned on the South-West flank.

fig. 4

Section C
C and possibly also D, positioned diagonally with respect to one another, were used at least occasionally as large courtyards.
Section C is situated in the Northeast of the complex and only investigated by Magnetometry. It is a 30 x 24 m courtyard along the outer wall of the complex and on three sides enclosed by rectangular rooms.

Section D
Section D is an area of 25 x 25 m size which was at times used as a courtyard. Only a small part is excavated, the rest visible by the images of the magnetometry survey
It was surrounded by two parallel enclosure walls. On its Northeast and Southeast edge rectangular rooms are arranged.

Older Phases of the Complex
Beneath tower [M 49] a predecessor building was discerned. It consists of several rooms with different function, the original floors were preserved.
Room L 508, a bathroom, was attached with a water pipe system (fig. 5). The large room L 486 was at times used for industrial puposes, in its Southwest corner bread ovens were erected. In the center of the room keyholeshaped kilns were found with slag in the vicinity (fig. 6).

fig. 5   fig. 6
Bietak M., Forstner-Müller I.
2006 Eine palatiale Anlage der frühen Hyksoszeit (Areal F/II). Vorläufige Ergebnisse der Grabungskampagne 2006 in Tell el-Dabca, Ä&L 16, 61-76.
2007 Ein rituelles Mahl und die Aufgabe eines Palastes, Festschrift Hermann Hunger, WZKM, Wien, 211-34.
Bietak M., Forstner-Müller I., Herbich T.
2006 Geophysical Survey and its Archaeological Verification. Discovery of a new palatial complex in Tell el-Dabca in the Delta, in: Z. Hawas, J. Richards (Hg.), The Archaeology and Art of Ancient Egypt, essays in Honor of David B. O’Connor, Cairo, 119-126.
Forstner-Müller I., Müller W.

Neueste Ergebnisse des Magnetometersurveys während der Frühjahrskampagne 2006 in Tell el-Dabca/Qantir, Ä&L 16, 79-82