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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

Sebbakh--a type of rich soil present throughout Egypt--is often found at archaeological sites. Sebakheen, or people who mine this soil to use as fertilizer, create a problem for archaeologists when they remove valuable artifacts along with the minerals. An example of this phenomenon is a site adjacent to the ancient city of Karanis. Before the University of Michigan excavations started in the 1920s, the Sebakheen (including a large Italian corporation!) would gain permission from the government to mine the soil, and as a result, much information about Karanis was probably lost. Modern archaeologists largely neglect the Sebakheen because it is seen as a wasteland of sorts.

Posted at Nov 30/2010 04:19PM:
ian: Think about how in Fustat their efforts have been transformed to provide some archaeological data even though decontextualized. Might we consider this a form of cultural practice that has its own standards and relationships to the material/archaeological heritage of Egypt and how it should be valued as a resource?