The el-Amrah Dig House

(el-Amrah is a small village near Abydos)

The EEF dig house at el-Amrah, season of 1899 - 1900 Images and information courtesy EES - Christopher Naunton

The EEF dig house at el-Amrah, season of 1899 – 1900
Images and information courtesy EES – Christopher Naunton

Sometimes, the lifespan of a dig house can be short-lived, as was the case with one of the former EES dig houses. The Amrah dig house was specifically built for the EES dig season of 1899-1900.

The Society’s excavations at El-Amrah, six miles to the South-East of Petrie’s Royal Tombs at Abydos, were led by David Randall-MacIver and Anthony Wilkin, and published in a special extra publication of the EEF: El-Amrah and Abydos 1899-1901.

The site had already been extensively worked a few years earlier by Jacques de Morgan and Émile Amélineau. The EEF team however “hoped, that the site would prove to be less exhausted than it first appeared; and it soon became evident that these hopes were to be more than justified.”

As David Randall-MacIver writes in his “introduction to El-Amrah and Abydos 1899-1901”:

“The EEF house at el Amrah which was purpose built at the beginning of the season and demolished at the end. “In spite of the not unnatural objections of the local authorities, who fail to understand that explorers prefer a new house built on clean desert sand to the insanitary filth of a native village, the building was successfully completed in six days.”

The EEF House at el-Amrah 1899-1900 season, showing a lot of pottery in front. Images and information courtesy EES - Christopher Naunton

The EEF House at el-Amrah 1899-1900 season, showing a lot of pottery in front.
Images and information courtesy EES – Christopher Naunton

The house has also been described by Joanne Rowland in Spencer, P (Ed.), “The Egypt Exploration Society: The Early Years”.:

…”Randall-MacIver and wilkin, however, constructed their own dig house in close proximity to the excavations. The construction, with straw on the roofs and mud-brick for the walls, as used then and now in local villages, is very suitable for the climate.

Their compound comprised their living quarters, together with a sizeable courtyard in which to store, record and study the artefacts found.

This wide open space in front of the dig house at el-Amrah allowed for the various types of ceramic objects to be studied and grouped.

In the foreground, ceramic coffins and jar burials are laid out, with the fourth jar from the left still containing the remains of the deceased.”…
(Joanne Rowland in Spencer, P (Ed.), “The Egypt Exploration Society: The Early Years”.p 170-171)

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