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Amenhotep III's Mansion of millions of years in Thebes (Luxor, Egypt): submergence of high grounds by river floods and Nile sediments

Amenhotep III's Mansion of millions of years in Thebes (Luxor, Egypt): submergence of high grounds by river floods and Nile sediments
Amenhotep III's Mansion of millions of years in Thebes (Luxor, Egypt): submergence of high grounds by river floods and Nile sediments

New Kingdom royal cult temples in Thebes (Luxor, Egypt) are all located on the lower desert edge. Kom el-Hettân (Amenhotep III: reign 1391–1353 BCE, 18th Dynasty) is an exception, as it is located in the present Nile floodplain. Its anomalous position has puzzled Egyptologists, as has the termination of its use, which traditionally has been attributed to natural hazards such as flooding or earthquakes. Geoarchaeological analyses of the subsurface shows that Amenhotep III's temple was initially founded on a wadi fan that stood several metres above the contemporary surrounding floodplain landscape. The temple was fronted by a minor branch of the Nile, which connected the temple to the wider region, but the temple itself was relatively safe from the annual flood of the Nile. This geoarchaeological study comprised a coring programme to determine the c. 4000-yr landscape history of the local area. Chronological control was provided by the analysis of ceramic fragments recovered from within the sediments. This study shows that the New Kingdom period was, at least locally, characterised by extremely high sedimentation rates that caused a rapid rise of the floodplain and gradual submergence of the pre-existing high temple grounds. This is, however, not a plausible reason for the destruction of the temple, as frequent inundation did not begin until the temple was already out of use and largely dismantled.

Ancient Egypt, Avulsion, Climate change, Geomorphology, Kom el-Hettân, New Kingdom, Ritual landscape
2352-409X
195-205
Toonen, W.H.J.
b88aadcb-6ed7-4000-9977-e5c494edaaa4
Graham, A.
afdb1552-9397-467a-9e18-81c4681cbb80
Masson-Berghoff, A.
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Peeters, J.
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Winkels, T.G.
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Pennington, B.T.
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Hunter, M.A.
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Strutt, K.D.
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Barker, D.S.
afbe9ebe-fbc6-43ab-8ccc-5cdcce1fa1a3
Emery, V.L.
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Sollars, L.
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Sourouzian, H.
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Toonen, W.H.J.
b88aadcb-6ed7-4000-9977-e5c494edaaa4
Graham, A.
afdb1552-9397-467a-9e18-81c4681cbb80
Masson-Berghoff, A.
fadfb5e3-393c-4bb7-b684-a63a1d52b648
Peeters, J.
205ff2e1-5f0d-4de4-b37e-34fa488b63da
Winkels, T.G.
510a4ded-5fb8-4426-b3f3-bb5db37faf74
Pennington, B.T.
e4bbad98-914c-4e9b-958d-54f5f87422b2
Hunter, M.A.
1dce507f-885f-45e1-ac09-bf4bd2cfc12d
Strutt, K.D.
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Barker, D.S.
afbe9ebe-fbc6-43ab-8ccc-5cdcce1fa1a3
Emery, V.L.
28454e32-d55b-4951-8025-6256914b45fc
Sollars, L.
32a0d36e-dc9c-46fd-b80e-ac8101ed67a3
Sourouzian, H.
0946705a-c2b8-472c-ab35-45e012d42b17

Toonen, W.H.J., Graham, A., Masson-Berghoff, A., Peeters, J., Winkels, T.G., Pennington, B.T., Hunter, M.A., Strutt, K.D., Barker, D.S., Emery, V.L., Sollars, L. and Sourouzian, H. (2019) Amenhotep III's Mansion of millions of years in Thebes (Luxor, Egypt): submergence of high grounds by river floods and Nile sediments. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 25, 195-205. (doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.03.003).

Record type: Article

Abstract

New Kingdom royal cult temples in Thebes (Luxor, Egypt) are all located on the lower desert edge. Kom el-Hettân (Amenhotep III: reign 1391–1353 BCE, 18th Dynasty) is an exception, as it is located in the present Nile floodplain. Its anomalous position has puzzled Egyptologists, as has the termination of its use, which traditionally has been attributed to natural hazards such as flooding or earthquakes. Geoarchaeological analyses of the subsurface shows that Amenhotep III's temple was initially founded on a wadi fan that stood several metres above the contemporary surrounding floodplain landscape. The temple was fronted by a minor branch of the Nile, which connected the temple to the wider region, but the temple itself was relatively safe from the annual flood of the Nile. This geoarchaeological study comprised a coring programme to determine the c. 4000-yr landscape history of the local area. Chronological control was provided by the analysis of ceramic fragments recovered from within the sediments. This study shows that the New Kingdom period was, at least locally, characterised by extremely high sedimentation rates that caused a rapid rise of the floodplain and gradual submergence of the pre-existing high temple grounds. This is, however, not a plausible reason for the destruction of the temple, as frequent inundation did not begin until the temple was already out of use and largely dismantled.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 5 March 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 18 April 2019
Published date: June 2019
Keywords: Ancient Egypt, Avulsion, Climate change, Geomorphology, Kom el-Hettân, New Kingdom, Ritual landscape

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432816
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432816
ISSN: 2352-409X
PURE UUID: 15ded782-20a1-487a-91bc-651a7093f048
ORCID for B.T. Pennington: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9969-8140

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Jul 2019 16:30
Last modified: 27 Jul 2019 00:21

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Contributors

Author: W.H.J. Toonen
Author: A. Graham
Author: A. Masson-Berghoff
Author: J. Peeters
Author: T.G. Winkels
Author: B.T. Pennington ORCID iD
Author: M.A. Hunter
Author: K.D. Strutt
Author: D.S. Barker
Author: V.L. Emery
Author: L. Sollars
Author: H. Sourouzian

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