Other French excavations

Excavations of the Meroitic city

Mouweis

since 2007

Directed by Michel Baud.

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Palace excavations

Excavation of the Palace

Mouweis is an important city on the Nile bank, located 50km south of Meroe, it is excavated since 2007 by the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum.
The site is 16ha large, presently completely surrounded by crops, the site has a low central area, framed by two hillocks, which has been identified as a large city-center by surveys (and magnetic surveys) bordered by two areas of domestic buildings and craftsmanship.

The urban structure of Mouweis, 2011 state

The eastern area, surveyed in three sondages, yielded a series of classical-meroitic to post-meroitic houses (sondages B and Ka), as well as circular and semi-circular potter’s kiln (Fa). A rectangular example (Ka, phase 2), of which the type recalls roman models, was used for brick firing. Pits and dumps revealed a rich material culture, animal and human figurines, seals impressions, clay pendants etc. as well as numerous signs of human activity, including ivory carving, weaving and iron metallurgy. The western hillock, only surveyed by an auger, presents a 4m-high stratigraphy, the site’s most important one.
The city-centre includes a series of large buildings dating from the classical Meroitic period, laid out on two settlements phases of the ancient Meroitic period.
A palace (A) is located to the south, originally 60m long, the rooms’ layout strongly that of Wad Ben Naga; its south and east margins are destroyed, the building having suffered from the salvageof its fired bricks, only leaving a mudbrick core.
In the central area, magnetic and surface surveys allowed the identification of a large complex (70x60m) bordered by an enclosure wall (R), as well as a series of buildings on the north-east side : a monumental door 9m-long (MF5), largely destroyed, located on an alley framed by two parallel walls;a 20m ( ?) long structure with a decorated door (NF22); a so far undefined structure (PF1) and a small temple (J).

Temple J, state at the end of excavation (view to the north, 2012)

It is 19,50 x 12m, and presents a classical tripartite plan, its terminal part also being divided in three, with a central naos on a pedestal, probably for a boat. It is a creation of the Royal duet Natakamani-Amanitoré, like some decoration fragments show. The building, of which the excavated is implemented, is now being restored. Following a classical model, it was laid out alongside an alley leading to the main temple, dedicated to Amon as evidenced by several findings – some ram statue fragments have been discovered in J’s debris. This large temple is logically located in the vast perimeter of enclosure R, which was however proven to be rather late in the site’s history.
The first set of fieldwork (2007-2012), a first assessment of the site by broadly defining its urban structure, history and material culture, is now completed and the publication is under preparation. The next set will consist of sounding the western habitat area, excavating the perimeter of the large central complex and look for metallurgical furnaces in the north-east area.

For more information, check the website of the Louvre: Les fouilles du Louvre à Mouweis, sur le site du musée du Louvre.

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Kiln excavations

Bibliography:
- M. Baud, « The Meroitic royal city of Muweis : first steps into an urban settlement of riverine Upper Nubia », Sudan & Nubia 12, 2008, p. 52-63.
- M. Baud, « Les fouilles du Louvre à Mouweis, Soudan : approches préliminaires d’un site urbain méroïtique », in F. Raffaele, M. Nuzzolo & I. Incordino, Recent discoveries and latest researches in Egyptology. Proceedings of the First Neapolitan Congress of Egyptology, Naples, June 18th-20th 2008, Wiesbaden, 2010, p. 1-12.
- M. Baud, « Méroé : un monde urbain », Catalogue d’exposition Méroé. Un empire sur le Nil, M. Baud (dir.), Paris & Milan, 2010, p. 211-214.
- M Baud, « Mouweis, une ville riveraine de la région de Méroé », Les Dossiers de l’Archéologie H.S. 18, mars 2010, p. 14-19.
- M. Baud, « Le palais royal de Mouweis », in La pioche et la plume, hommages archéologiques à Patrice Lenoble, ed. V. Rondot, F. Alpi and F. Villeneuve, Presses de l’université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris, 2011, p. 339-357.
- M. Baud, « Trois saisons à Mouweis : premier bilan archéologique », in M. Zach éd., 11th international conference for Meroitic studies, 1er-4 sept. 2008, Vienne, sous presse. M. Baud, « Downtown Muweis – a progress report (2007-2011) », in D. Welsby & J.Anderson éds., Proceedings of the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies, 1er-6 août 2010, British Museum, Londres, to be published.
- The 2010 report is accessible on the Louvre Museum website :http://www.louvre.fr/les-fouilles-d...
- See also the documentary "Mouweis, une ville sous le sable" réalisé par Stan Neumann et Catherine Adda, coproduction musée du Louvre / Camera Lucida, avec la participation de France Télévisions, 2010.

article published on 7 February 2018

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