Underneath Ranefer's floors – urban environments on the desert edge

Eva Panagiotakopulu, Paul C. Buckland, Barry J. Kemp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The city of Akhetaten, modern day Amarna, was founded by the monotheist pharoah Akhenaten as his new capital ca. 1353 BC, and abandoned within about 25 years. Much of the site has been excavated over the past century and few deposits remain undisturbed. In one house, however, that of the king's chief charioteer, Ranefer, rebuilding had sealed occupation debris beneath the final mud brick house floors and in the desiccating conditions of the desert, these preserved extensive insect faunas, which for the first time provide detailed data on living conditions and pest infestation in a major pharaonic urban centre. Pests of stored products include the grain weevil, Sitophilts granarius, the lesser grain borer, Rhizopertha dominica, and flour beetles, Tribolium castaneum, as well as more general pests, such as the lesser mealworm, Alphitobius diaperinus, and the biscuit beetle, Stegobium paniceum. Flies include the house fly, Musca domestic', and the puparia of a flesh fly, Sarcophagidae, burrowed vertically into the mud-brick floor in a room corner, perhaps beneath abandoned offal or meat. The taphonomy of the insect assemblages would suggest that much consisted of material dumped into the house plot, either during a phase of abandonment or to level up the area before the later house, that of Ranefer, was constructed. Trampled surfaces within the midden, often consolidated with desert sand, indicate foul damp conditions and also imply that the process was intermittent. Living conditions in the city of Akhenaten are likely not to have been as salubrious as contemporary tomb paintings might suggest. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-481
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number3
Early online date6 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Egypt
  • New Kingdom
  • Amarna
  • Archaeoentomology
  • Coleoptera
  • Diptera
  • Urban environments
  • Infestation


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