We Call It the Silo Building Complex

BY RICHARD REDDING, Research Scientist, Kelsey Museum, blogging from Giza, Egypt

We discovered an Old Kingdom mud-brick building two years ago while clearing sand. It is located just south of the Khafre Valley Temple and separated from the tombs and pyramids by a large stone wall. As we cleared away the sand from the tops of the walls, one of the first things we found was a series of five silos — hence, the Silo Building Complex (SBC). Due to lack of time in 2012 we did not get to really excavate into the building except in two rooms on the eastern edge. We filled the area with clean sand and left it for the future.

This season (2014) we decided to explore this building. We had several questions:

  1. How old was it? Did it go back to the reign of Khafre? We did have one seal impression from Niuserre, a 5th Dynasty pharaoh.
  2. What was the building used for, and who occupied it?
  3. Is the depression to the west really a harbor?
  4. Could the SBC access the area to the north?

To answer these questions we excavated in four areas of the SBC. The first was two of the silos, which we knew would contain information on diet.

The SBC on Saturday, 19 April. The large silos are very visible, and two have been excavated. To the right (east) are two rooms excavated in 2011. To the left (west) is a room excavated this season (photo R. Redding).
Two photos of the silos. Note how high the walls still stand. The small semicircular cut in one is the remnant of the access door (photos R. Redding).

We also excavated a room on the western edge of the building. We wanted good floor deposits and to check on a blocked doorway that led to the west from the SBC.

Excavated room. Note the Meidum bowl set in the floor (photo R. Redding).

The third excavation was a trench from the western room down into the depression we thought might be a harbor. The excavation revealed three terraces that stepped down to an elevation of about 14.5 meters above sea level (m asl). Coring in the west of the water-filled trench revealed a layer of black clayey silt at about 13 m asl. In the Old Kingdom the Nile flood plain at Giza was about 12 m asl, and the flood would have reached about 14 m asl. We have a harbor.

Excavation into harbor from western room. Terraces marked (photo R. Redding).

The last area we have excavated is around the stone wall forming a border between the SBC and the area to the north. We found a doorway that was plastered that led through the wall from the SBC.

Finally, we excavated an area of the stone wall to establish the relationship between the SBC and the northern boundary wall. Which was built first?

The stone boundary wall. Note doorway in lower left that allowed access from the SBC to the area to the north. The doorway is nicely plastered, and you can see the plaster line (photo R. Redding).

We are finishing the excavations, and we will begin the laboratory analyses soon. A team of ceramicists, a faunal analyst, a lithics analyst, botanist, and objects team will soon start work. In a few weeks I will send out another blog describing what they found.



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