Umm al-Dabadib (Kharga Oasis, Egypt’s Western Desert)

The 3D Survey Group joined in 2013 the project O.A.S.I.S. (Old Agricultural Sites and Irrigation Systems), by the Centro MUSA (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II), directed by Dr Corinna Rossi. Aim of OASIS is to understand how the ancient Romans installed a chain of settlements in the hyperarid environment of the Kharga Oasis, along what used to be the border of the Roman Empire.

Founded in 2012, OASIS analysed the archaeological sites located in the northern part of this oasis, that had been previously studied by Dr Rossi and Dr Ikram thanks to the project N.K.O.S. (North Kharga Oasis Survey), and identified the best candidate for a comprehensive and detailed study: the large and remote site of Umm al-Dabadib, located at the outskirts of the oasis at a distance of 45 km from the ancient and modern oasis’ capital, and for this reason preserved in excellent conditions.

Whilst the Centro MUSA started the survey of the imposing agricultural system that served the sites. the 3D Survey Group started the 3D survey of the entire Fortified Settlement.

The excellent results obtained during the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons revealed the full potential of the siter and offered the possibility to create a larger and more ambitious project: L.I.F.E. (Living In a Fringe Environment), also directed by Dr Rossi, that has been awarded in 2015 the Europen Council Research Consolidator Grant 681673.

2014 expedition

Sponsored by National Geographic/Waitt Institute, MUSA, Fondazione Collegio delle Università Milanesi, CCUM, acknowledged by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministero degli Affari Esteri DGSP-IV).

We carried out two parallel activities: the 3D survey of the Fortified Settlement and the GPS survey of the Western Cultivation. We built a 3D model of the Fort and performed the survey of the entire mass of the Fortified Settlement. We obtained a digital elevation model of the cultivation and reconstructed the total extent of the cultivated area, as well as its irrigations needs.

The 2014 team: Corinna Rossi (MUSA), Antonello Migliozzi (MUSA), Francesco Fassi (Politecnico di Milano), Alessandro Mandelli (Politecnico di Milano), Mirko Surdi (Istituto Orientale di Napoli), Anna Maria Cimino (Università Sapienza di Roma), Maria Emanuela Oddo (Università di Pavia), Hamdy Mahdy (PanArab), Shukri Hassan (PanArab), Walid Abd al-Aziz (PanArab), Mahmoud Mohammed (Kharga Police), Ahmed Moussa (Inspector of the Antiquities).

2015 expedition

Sponsored by: the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministero degli Affari Esteri DGSP-IV), Politecnico di Milano and MUSA.

We continued our work on two parallel fronts. We completed the 3D survey of the Fort with the addition of the internal spaces, and experimented on this occasion new survey techniques especially designed for our needs. We completed the GPS survey of Aqueduct no. 3, carried out an assessment of the amount of archaeobotanical evidence that may be retrieved from the ancient fields, and completed a study of the local spontaneous vegetation.

We experimented the adoption of special techniques to carry out the 3d survey of the interior of the Fort, and started from the ground level. We explored the ground floor of the Fort and gained access to two new rooms, where we retrieved intact objects and well-preserved archaeobotanical remains that indicate that these rooms were used as food storage.

The 2015 team: Corinna Rossi (MUSA), Antonello Migliozzi (MUSA), Francesco Fassi (Politecnico di Milano), Alessandro Mandelli (Politecnico di Milano), Essam Harby Salah (PanArab), Walid Abd al-Aziz (PanArab), Shukri Hassan (PanArab), Mahmoud Mohammed (Kharga Police), Aly Kabeesh (Inspector of the Antiquities).

The 2016 expedition is being prepared. From 2017 onwards this project will become part of LIFE.

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