Theban Harbours and Waterscapes Survey Starts

So the fieldwork in Thebes on the THaWS project is finally under way, with a cracking team of archaeologists and local workers, together with Reis Allah. Some time was spent last week getting the survey equipment from customs, and testing the instruments on the desert edge at Birket Habu on thursday. Work commenced today with Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) profiles across the southern side, and outside and within Birket Habu.

The British and American contingents of the team include the director Dr Angus Graham, from West Monkseaton in Newcastle.


Angus at Birket Habu

Angus is leading the team looking at the manipulation of the ancient land and waterscapes of the Theban region. Assisting Angus in his adventure is his delightful assistant Sarah Jones. Sarah spent the first part of the morning sourcing a new hat for use on the project. In addition Virginia (Ginger) Emery from the University of Chicago (USA) and Dominic Barker from the University of Southampton (UK) form part of the team. Dominic is an experience archaeological fieldwork hand, with previous excavation and survey work in Syria, Egypt and Jordan under his belt. Ginger is currently working on a phD at the University of Chicago.


Sarah Jones sporting a new hat


Ginger photographing some mud brick


Dominic Barker

Dom will be running the GPR survey, while Sarah will supervise the GPS work on site. Myself and Angus will be running the ERT  survey, and checking up on the rest of the team. To help we have two workmen, Yasser and Yusuf, supervised by Reis Alaa Farouk, of the Farouk family.


Reis Alaa Farouk

There isn’t much to report in terms of results so far. Work commenced today on the Birket Habu in the southern area of the site, running an ERT and GPR profile across the southern mound of the harbour, and across the area of the interior. The GPR survey went smoothly, with  a 200 Mhz antenna being used, and a profile of some 2.4km being surveyed with waypoints surveyed in with the GPS.


GPR survey at Birket Habu

The ERT went more slowly, with a Tigre 64 probe system being used, and probes being placed every 3m along the profile. As the survey started the traffic along the road and canal increased, to the point where carts, pulled by donkeys, carrying sugar cane became an absolute distraction, knocking out probes, and tangling tapes.


Congested highway along the ERT profile, with probes and cable in the foreground

The reason behind surveyig the profile is to map the presence of the mound associated with the Birket, and any possible basins or channels located along its line. Some features seem to be present in the results, but there are plenty of additional profiles and areas that require investigation in the next few weeks. As things develop I will post up more information and summaries of some of the results. However, Angus and all of the members of the team will be updating the project website blog over the next three weeks, which you can visit at, or for more information look at the EES website at


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