A Palace of the Hyksos Period at Tell el-Daba and the
Introduction of Cuneiform Letter Diplomacy to Egypt
Prof. Manfred Bietak
Chair-Professor Emeritus for Egyptology at the University of Vienna
Monday, September 27, 2010
Reception to Follow
Ahmad Pasha Kamal Hall
Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)
3 el-Adel Abu Bakr Street
(at the intersection of al-Malak al-Afdal Street)
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt
Tel: + 2/02 2736-5645
Between 2006 and 2009 a palatial building from the middle of the Hyksos Period was discovered by the Austrian Archaeological Institute in cooperation with the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy at Tell el-Daba - Ancient Avaris. According to seal impressions the building could have belonged to the Hyksos Khayan. It covers ca. 10,500 sqm and has little resemblance to known Egyptian palaces. It bears some features of northern Syrian palaces, from where the architecture seems to have originated.
A striking feature was a spacious courtyard secured by thick casemate walls. It was equipped with benches and served for religious banquets whose remains were interred into huge pits. It is possible that such installations could be ranged into the Ancient Near Eastern tradition of Marzihu (beit marzeah) known since the 3rd millennium BC. They served ritual communities for festive meetings. More than 5,000 pottery vessels have been already retrieved from those pits. Some are carriers of innovative art. Of particular interest was the burial of a horse in the palace. It is the oldest horse burial in Egypt and supports the idea that horses were introduced from the Near East during the Hyksos Period.
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Iman R. Abdulfattah
Supreme Council of Antiquities