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Holocene fluvial history of the Nile’s west bank at ancient Thebes, Luxor, Egypt, and its relation with cultural dynamics and basin-wide hydroclimatic variability

Holocene fluvial history of the Nile’s west bank at ancient Thebes, Luxor, Egypt, and its relation with cultural dynamics and basin-wide hydroclimatic variability
Holocene fluvial history of the Nile’s west bank at ancient Thebes, Luxor, Egypt, and its relation with cultural dynamics and basin-wide hydroclimatic variability
In the Theban area around modern Luxor (Egypt), the River Nile divides the temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor from New Kingdom royal cult temples on the western desert edge. Few sites have been archaeologically identified in the western flood plain, despite its presumed pivotal role in the ancient ritual landscape as the territory that both physically divided and symbolically connected the areas inhabited by the living and the areas occupied by the dead. Using borehole data and electrical resistivity tomography, the current investigation of subsurface deposits reveals the location of an abandoned channel of the Nile. This river course was positioned in the western, distal part of the Nile flood plain. Over 2100 ceramic fragments recovered from boreholes date the abandonment of the relatively minor river channel to the (late) New Kingdom. This minor river branch could have played an important role in the cultural landscape, as it would have served to connect important localities in the ritual landscape. Changes in the fluvial landscape match with established periods of basin-wide hydroclimatic variability. This links cultural and landscape changes observed on a regional scale to hydroclimatic dynamics in the larger Nile catchment, in one of the focal areas of Ancient Egyptian cultural development.
Thebes, Nile, River dynamics, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom
0883-6353
273-290
Toonen, Willem H.J.
3167d5c5-ed19-4b36-9bfb-a76230ca2b47
Graham, Angus
e6591a0a-c11d-4436-8f5a-aebb09c97279
Pennington, Benjamin T.
c4d1fb87-08f6-4f08-89d3-af0a4f28474b
Hunter, Morag A.
1dce507f-885f-45e1-ac09-bf4bd2cfc12d
Strutt, Kristian D.
b342b4b8-5762-4a2a-a607-f053afc8c2d3
Barker, Dominic S.
afbe9ebe-fbc6-43ab-8ccc-5cdcce1fa1a3
Masson-Berghoff, Aurélia
fadfb5e3-393c-4bb7-b684-a63a1d52b648
Emery, Virgina L.
734bbb59-7a8f-4eb5-b2fc-1efc6f4b3d90
Toonen, Willem H.J.
3167d5c5-ed19-4b36-9bfb-a76230ca2b47
Graham, Angus
e6591a0a-c11d-4436-8f5a-aebb09c97279
Pennington, Benjamin T.
c4d1fb87-08f6-4f08-89d3-af0a4f28474b
Hunter, Morag A.
1dce507f-885f-45e1-ac09-bf4bd2cfc12d
Strutt, Kristian D.
b342b4b8-5762-4a2a-a607-f053afc8c2d3
Barker, Dominic S.
afbe9ebe-fbc6-43ab-8ccc-5cdcce1fa1a3
Masson-Berghoff, Aurélia
fadfb5e3-393c-4bb7-b684-a63a1d52b648
Emery, Virgina L.
734bbb59-7a8f-4eb5-b2fc-1efc6f4b3d90

Toonen, Willem H.J., Graham, Angus, Pennington, Benjamin T., Hunter, Morag A., Strutt, Kristian D., Barker, Dominic S., Masson-Berghoff, Aurélia and Emery, Virgina L. (2018) Holocene fluvial history of the Nile’s west bank at ancient Thebes, Luxor, Egypt, and its relation with cultural dynamics and basin-wide hydroclimatic variability. Geoarchaeology, 33 (3), 273-290. (doi:10.1002/gea.21631).

Record type: Article

Abstract

In the Theban area around modern Luxor (Egypt), the River Nile divides the temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor from New Kingdom royal cult temples on the western desert edge. Few sites have been archaeologically identified in the western flood plain, despite its presumed pivotal role in the ancient ritual landscape as the territory that both physically divided and symbolically connected the areas inhabited by the living and the areas occupied by the dead. Using borehole data and electrical resistivity tomography, the current investigation of subsurface deposits reveals the location of an abandoned channel of the Nile. This river course was positioned in the western, distal part of the Nile flood plain. Over 2100 ceramic fragments recovered from boreholes date the abandonment of the relatively minor river channel to the (late) New Kingdom. This minor river branch could have played an important role in the cultural landscape, as it would have served to connect important localities in the ritual landscape. Changes in the fluvial landscape match with established periods of basin-wide hydroclimatic variability. This links cultural and landscape changes observed on a regional scale to hydroclimatic dynamics in the larger Nile catchment, in one of the focal areas of Ancient Egyptian cultural development.

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Accepted/In Press date: 8 May 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 July 2017
Published date: May 2018
Keywords: Thebes, Nile, River dynamics, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom

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Local EPrints ID: 421159
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/421159
ISSN: 0883-6353
PURE UUID: ea754dfe-ed98-47e1-9ae6-ee661acc024e

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Date deposited: 23 May 2018 16:33
Last modified: 23 May 2018 16:33

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Contributors

Author: Willem H.J. Toonen
Author: Angus Graham
Author: Benjamin T. Pennington
Author: Morag A. Hunter
Author: Aurélia Masson-Berghoff
Author: Virgina L. Emery

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