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Excavating in Egypt

Digging itself is in general the easiest part of the excavation, and the only archaeological activity known to the public. However, there is often a substantial selectivity involved, often only implicit in the work, revealing a certain political dimension; selection is inevitable, given the constraints of time and cost on any excavator, but the criteria of selection should be made explicit. In former times it was very often the custom to destroy the levels at a site which the excavator did not regard as scientifically 'useful'. For example, in Egypt it was for a long time usual to destroy Roman, Coptic and Islamic levels without recording. As a result, we now have a seriously limited picture of these periods. The number of Roman and Coptic houses found in Egypt must have been very high, but the number recorded is very small. An excavator interested in earlier periods could, reasonably, choose sites without substantial later occupation. If this is not possible, then the duty remains to record all higher levels before their removal in the search for evidence from lower, more ancient strata.


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