Shalalat 2009 Excavation Report
Supreme Council of Antiquities
Department of Foreign Missions Affairs
Subject: Excavation Report
The Hellenic Research Institute of the Alexandrian Civilization (H.R.I.A.C.) obtained the permission from the Supreme Council of Antiquities to start an archaeological excavation in Shallalat Gardens of Alexandria on 29th of January 2009.
The excavation started on 13th of April 2009.
Members of the mission were as follows:
Kalliopi Limneou-Papakosta, Archaeologist, director of H.R.I.A.C.
Nikolia Spanou, Archaeologist
Raymond Anis-Fouad, Archaeologist
Emmanuel Chamaoui, Conservator
Ahmad Abdel Fatah El Alfy, 10.04.2009 – 27.04.2009
Mohamed Helmy Aboubakr Nour El Din, 28.04.2009 – 14.05.2009
A team of post gratuated students of Alexandria University participated in the survey. The excavation work was held out by 6-8 workers per day.
The excavation ended on 14th of April 2009.
Shallalat Gardens (early 20th c.) cover a vast area ,replacing the northern bastions created at the years of Mohamed Aly,which “modernized” the medieval city walls of Alexandria. The complex follows the curve NE of the Rosseta Gate.
On 13th and 14th of April, we started removing the modern debris . After removing it, we started excavating an area 5,00m. long and 3,00m wide at the depth of 6,00m from the surface. At the depth of 6,40m, into the west side of the trench, a layer of soft lime mortar was traced, probably the base of a floor. Its thickness rates from 0,08m. to 0,15m. Inside the trench, across the southern part, we excavated a strata of dark mud filled with a great amount of pottery, probably of hellenistic/ early roman period, pieces of animal bones and pieces of coloured plaster, though at the northern part, a layer of sand was found filled of many broken pieces of architectural parts, pottery and coloured plaster.
Among the sherds collected from this unit appears to be many pieces of fine pottery (sigillattas). At the depth of 6,95m we traced a small part of a wall foundation, extending from NE to SW. After it was drawn and photographed, we removed it in order to continue the excavation. At the depth of 7,40m we reached the level of the water table.
After using pumps for the drilling of the water, we continued the excavation although with serious difficulties. At the same depth, across the south side of the trench we started revealing a part of a construction made by lime mortar and small stones compacted together. This construction was extended at all the excavated area.
As its northern part was found at the depth of 7,75m, appeared to decline towards this direction. Since we couldn’t extend the area of the excavation because of the existence of big trees, we were unable to trace the edges of this construction. At the NW part the trench, the construction was destroyed, so we continued the excavation in order to reveal the bottom of its base.
At this area, we revealed part of a wall constructed mostly by lime stones and clay tiles. The wall extends from W to the E and it seems to have been covered by this construction of lime mortar. Immediately in front of this part of the wall, a layer of sand and stones was found, which was the fill of the constructing ditch.
We ended the excavation, in order to extend the trench and solve the problems of water level as well as draining the site, at the following season.
Above the surface of this construction, into a thick layer of pottery sherds, a Hellenistic Statue of a naked man, of extremely fine art was found, study and publishing of which will follow promptly.
Other significant findings were many pieces of architectural parts, lamps, coins- though they were extremely oxidized by the water- and parts of a mosaic made by off white tessera, which maybe it’s connected with the upper lime floor.
The surveying plans of the H.R.I.A.C. are to undertake a systematic research of the whole area of Shallalat Gardens for the next years, beginning a new excavation project for October-November-December 2009. The site is very important for the topography of ancientAlexandria and has to be studied carefully.
The most important issue now is to find the suitable way to drain the water of the trenches, because our experience after two excavation periods in Shallalat is the necessity to control this major problem, because we think that the Ptolemaic layer of Alexandria is below the level of water.
We wish to thank, for this start of our research, the Supreme Council of Antiquities for permitting our Institute to work in Alexandria, His Excellency the Governor of Alexandria Mr. Adel Labib, the Authorities of the Antiquity Service of Alexandria as well as our Egyptian friends and colleagues that supported our work.
For and on behalf of the HRIAC