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FP7

CASEPS Report Summary

Project reference: 329601
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE

Final Report Summary - CASEPS (Comparative Archaeological Study of Egyptian Predynastic Settlements)

Comparative Archaeological Study of Egyptian Predynastic Settlements (CASEPS)

Project main objectives

Within the broad aim of furthering our understanding of socio-economic organisation, dynamics of interaction and processes of change of the ancient Egyptian civilisation during its formative stage (the period known as the Predynastic, c. IV millennium BC), specific objectives of the ‘CASEPS’ project have been:

- Enhancing the comparability of available archaeological data on Egyptian Predynastic settlements;
- Exploring artefact variability, patterning and intra-site spatial organisation of these sites in relation to other variables (e.g. time, function, status, specialisation, etc.), with the aid of quantitative methods, statistics, spatial analysis and within a comparative approach;
- Integrating results from this investigation into a wider framework of interest for the Egyptian Predynastic research field and for archaeology in general.

Besides the aforementioned scientific objectives, further objectives of the project were related to the acquisition by the researcher of new advanced knowledge and skills, in order to both implement the project and to foster her career development.

Research work and results

- A digital archive of standardised and comparable datasets pertaining to selected Egyptian Predynastic sites has been implemented. The bulk of data collected and inserted into the archive pertain to ceramic assemblages from settlements of Upper Egypt, including two of the most significant sites of Predynastic Egypt, Naqada and Hierakonpolis, whose long history covers also the important stages of Egyptian state formation and consolidation. Two major sites of Lower Egypt have been considered as well. Data has been drawn from published sources and, especially, direct examination of archaeological material conducted by the researcher in a period preceding the start of the project and in the course of the project’s first year. To facilitate the integration of available ceramic data to be used in the project, a series of “translation tables”, where potential correspondences (or lack thereof) amongst terms and codes employed in different recording systems are made explicit, have been created within the archive and linked to the relevant tables.
- A series of quantitative and statistical analyses and detailed intra- and inter-site comparisons have been conducted and focused on ceramic assemblages for which comprehensive quantitative data was available, in particular samples examined by the researcher. The composition of these assemblages in terms of both fabric and shape types has been examined and compared, in order to explore potentially meaningful patterns. A number of other variables (e.g. vessel general form; diameter of vessel’s rim; functional category; etc.) have also been considered for the analyses and their variation and potential relationship with chronology, function, status, specialisation of the settlements under investigation were explored. By means of spatial analyses the distribution of a range of ceramic elements (both in terms of presence/absence and proportions in ceramic assemblages) within and amongst Predynastic settlement sites has been investigated. Specific spatial analyses at intra-site level were also performed.

- The aforementioned analyses resulted in the identification of some patterns of potential chronological meaning within settlement sites of Upper Egypt. Consequently, the major samples under study could be better contextualised within the chronological reference frameworks available for early Egypt to date. A synchronisation of these assemblages amongst each other was also attempted and potential synchronisms with assemblages known from published sources, whose features and composition were also examined in detail, were suggested. Results from these analyses have also been the basis for conducting an investigation of ceramic change in relationship with the potential factors causing it, with consequent implications for our understanding of wider processes, in particular socio-economic transformations occurring in Egypt in the later Predynastic period and general developments involved in the Egyptian state formation process.
- Potential evidence of intra- and inter-regional interaction, as reflected in the archaeological ceramic material, and parallel (or divergent) patterns of change (or continuity) in different parts of Egypt in the period under examination have also been charted, based on the analyses and distributional studies undertaken. Specific inter-site differentiation (Naqada ‘South Town’ vs. several settlement localities at Hierakonpolis) and more subtle intra-site variations (or lack thereof) to be potentially explained by functional and chronological factors have been identified by means of the foregoing analyses, with relevant implications for the comprehension of organisation of Egyptian communities, especially during the late Predynastic phase.
- Results obtained by means of the aforementioned analyses on Egyptian Predynastic settlement material culture have been tested against models of organisation, interaction and change currently applied to Egyptian Predynastic society and, more in general, models developed in archaeology, anthropology and in the social sciences, also on the grounds of evidence provided by regions outside of Egypt. Preliminary results of the research project have been presented at seminars, national and international conferences. Specific dissemination activities have also been directed to a non-academic public (outreach activities). Final results will be included in articles, currently in preparation for publication in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and journals, and in specific sections of two monographs.

Final results and impact

- Results from this research project contribute to elucidating some areas and issues, crucial for furthering our understanding of the mechanisms that gave rise to the Egyptian civilisation (Predynastic settlement chronological and functional variability; impact of the state formation process on the life of the inhabitants of the Nile Valley - i.e. how it is reflected in material culture of settlements; dynamics of interaction between different regions of Egypt at this early stage), thus advancing the state of the art of the research field on Predynastic Egypt and the ERA excellence in this research field.
- This research project has drawn from new unpublished and published data produced by a number of European and international research teams, it has used expertise and facilities available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology for advanced data integration, analysis and interpretation, and it has disseminated research results at a European level and beyond, contributing effectively to knowledge transfer and data sharing. The Marie Curie Fellowship has also enabled the researcher to strengthen and expand her network of connections, so that a solid basis for further long-term collaborative research has been established.
- The execution of the project, including the training program that the researcher has followed, has allowed her to: gain advanced knowledge and skills for archaeological data evaluation, analysis and interpretation (integrating also the Mediterranean and the Anglo-Saxon approach to archaeology); broaden and diversify her competences through interdisciplinary scientific training (drawn from disciplines such as computing, statistics, anthropology and social sciences); broaden her dissemination, organisational and networking skills, amongst others. Therefore, the Marie Curie Fellowship has provided an invaluable contribution also to the researcher’s career development.

Project’s webpage: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/research/directory/caseps

Scientist in charge of supervision of the project:
David Wengrow, Professor of Comparative Archaeology
UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY, UK

Marie-Curie Research Fellow:
Grazia A. Di Pietro, PhD
UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY, UK
Contact details: g.pietro@ucl.ac.uk, graziadipietro@yahoo.it

Related information

Contact

Borg-Carbott, Greta (Senior European Contracts Executive)
Tel.: +442031083033
E-mail
Record Number: 182538 / Last updated on: 2016-05-12
Information source: SESAM