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The Excavations at Ismant al-Kharab I (Hardback)

Roman-Period Cartonnage from the Kellis 1 Cemetery

Ancient History > Ancient Egypt & Egyptology > Ancient Egyptian Archaeology World History > Africa

By Carlo Rindi Nuzzolo, Edited by Gillian E Bowen, Edited by Colin A. Hope
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Pages: 328
Illustrations: B/W and colour
ISBN: 9781789259049
Published: 15th December 2022
Casemate UK Academic



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Excavations by the Dakhleh Oasis Project at Ismant al-Kharab, ancient Kellis in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, revealed the presence of an extensive necropolis dating to the Roman Period, with hundreds of rock-cut tombs containing multiple burials. Termed the Kellis 1 Cemetery, it yielded a range of artefacts and many of the individuals were provided with elaborately decorated cartonnage coverings. This is the largest collection of such material yet discovered in Dakhleh.This book presents a detailed analysis of the entire corpus of cartonnage found at Kellis in a securely excavated context. These objects, which include mummy masks, foot-cases, and full body covers, were part of the burial accoutrements of the wealthier residents of the village. Stylistic and digital investigation of the artefacts suggests a well-defined craft production, with the presence of multiple groups of craftsmen using specific manufacturing techniques and local traits in their iconographic repertoire. The scale of evidence demonstrates that Kellis was a vibrant community with a dynamic funerary production in contact with nearby areas. Comparison with finds from the neighbouring Oasis of Kharga, as well as with artefacts in museums collections and from the antiquities market, suggest a complex network of skilled craftsmen throughout the region. This is the first comprehensive study of the material. It has been studied in person by the author in the field enabling a detailed appraisal of the items, whether intact or fragmentary. It builds on recent research addressing regionalism and craftsmanship, and constitutes one of the main sources to investigate issues of permanence and change in the indigenous funerary customs of the area.

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About Carlo Rindi Nuzzolo

Carlo Rindi Nuzzolo has a PhD in Egyptian Archaeology from Monash University and is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Global Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Institute for Heritage Science, CNR, Italy. Previously, he was Lead Curator for a cultural heritage project based at the British Museum. His research focuses on Late Period to Roman Period burial customs, cultural heritage protection, provenance research, and the History of Archaeology. His current project, CRAFT, funded by the European Union, builds on the outcomes of the present work by investigating cartonnage regionalism in the Fayum Oasis.

About Gillian E Bowen

Gillian E. Bowen has worked with Colin Hope for over 30 years and they are currently joint recipients of a 5-year Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant to investigate the cult of the god Seth in Egypt, especially in Dakhleh, and its supposed proscription during the first millennium BCE. Until recently, Bowen was senior lecturer in ancient history at Monash University. Bowen has worked in Dakhleh since 1990, specialising in the archaeology of Christian Egypt; she has three concessions in Dakhleh from the Egyptian government all with Christian remains.  Additionally, she is a numismatist and authority on ancient textiles.  

About Colin A. Hope

Colin A. Hope has edited 2 prior volumes on the Dakhleh Oasis Project and has worked with Gillian Bowen for over 30 years. They are currently joint recipients of a 5 year Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant to investigate the cult of the god Seth in Egypt, especially in Dakhleh, and its supposed proscription during the first millennium BCE.  He lectured at Monash University until recently, holding the position of associate professor and director of the Centre for Ancient Cultures. Hope is a founding member of DOP and a chief investigator, who oversees the study of ceramics and directs excavations at two major sites.

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