Excavation Grid Completed for Tell El Hibeh

View of tell from south showing complexity of terrain.

Upon first arriving at the archaeological site of El Hibeh, the U.C. Berkeley team quickly realized they had a big problem.  The simplified, two-dimensional maps that were available to the expedition were a bit misleading.  Nowhere did things on the ground appear as neat and orderly as they had on paper.  Measuring nearly three quarters of a kilometer from north to south, the tell itself was absolutely huge.  When the burial-rich desert to the north and east was considered, the site area quickly grew to a few square kilometers.  Furthermore, the terrain itself was as complex as it was vast.  The team would come to measure a difference in elevation of nearly 20m from the lowest points in the area of the temple of Sheshonq I to the heights of the enormous mudbrick north gate--and nowhere did the elevation of the site remain the same for very long.  It was a challenge to find a flat area that did not involve a drop off the edge of a limestone cliff or a steady climb to the heights of some mudbrick structure.

Two earlier survey maps of the Nile River and tell showing lack of sufficient detail.

It was quite clear that given the available resources, the 1980 American expedition had done a phenomenal job mapping the tell.  Working from a single datum point in the northwest part of the tell, that team had accurately mapped the location of the temple, a number of walls, and various other features including trenches excavated by earlier archaeologists.

1980 Expedition map showing a number of features of the tell.

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