SANAM ABU DOM – Field season 2918-2919
    Irene Vincentelli

    The fieldwork season on the site of Sanam Abu Dom took place in the months of November 2018 and February-March 2019.

    We had two objectives: firstly, to continue the excavation, restoration and protection of the Treasury and, secondly, to build an Information Point to present to tourists and local people the results of our work as well as that of other archaeological missions working in the Eastern side of the Napata region.

    The excavation and tests carried out in several places in the Treasury indicate that this truely enormous building (267 m in length) has yet to reveal all its secrets and that its plan, regular in appearance, is full of surprises and unexpected architectural features (fig.1 – photo 17).

    We have been able to ascertain that the West side of the building, like the East side, was not open but closed by a middle room. That is why the main entrance to the Treasury could not have been there and we must look for it among the rooms of the Northern row. Here, in the middle of the building (rooms 102 N-103 N), we noticed a line of columns that looked anomalous, in terms of position and size, when compared to those of all other rooms. They may indeed have supported a portico and thus it is most probable that the main entrance to the Treasury was situated here.

    We have also determined that both, porticoes and courtyard, were paved with white sandstone. This feature, together with the tall columns and the sheer size of the building, would have given it an impressive appearance, unique in the ancient world. It is possible that, if the ravages of time and people’ s enduring neglect had not wreaked such a heavy toll, it would have aroused such wonder similar to that of the Coliseum or some Egyptian monuments (fig. 2).

    It would appear that the Treasury had been emptied of its contents, perhaps expecting a raid by Psamtek who, most likely, was also responsible for the fire that eventually destroyed it. In any case, the wealth stored within is attested by the remarkable number of small items that, luckily for us, were overlooked at the time of their removal and that have been found in the course of our patient and thorough excavation. Worthy of note are the following:

    A small lily shaped copper alloy plaque (photo 1).
    A faience ram headed plaque with uraei and sun disk (photo 2).
    A faience pendant shaped as a payrus column (photo 4).
    Flower shaped beads (photo 5).
    A large openwork bead decorated with lotus flowers (photo 6).
    And, lastly, a very small red gemstone (photo 12) and some fragments of amber (photo 13) which, though extremely small, seem of particular importance. These two items point to the great importance of the long distance trade that formed the wealth of the kingdom of Kush. During this same season we have also started building an Info Point, which quickly reached roof height in spite of the difficulty of sourcing building material (photos 15-16). We hope to complete the work next November.




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