Since 2011, a joint team of the Paris-Sorbonne University and the French Institute in Cairo (IFAO), supported by the CNRS and the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has been excavating an exceptional harbor complex from the early Old Kingdom at Wadi al-Jarf along the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea.
Considered now as the oldest harbor in the world, it was used for a short time as a departure point to the Sinai Peninsula for Royal expeditions on the way to the regions of Serabit al-Khadim and Wadi Maghara, the principal mining areas for copper and turquoise during the Pharaonic times.
According to the pottery and epigraphy, this massive installation dates back to the very beginning of the Fourth Dynasty. In 2013 the site received a special reputation after the discovery of several hundreds of fragments of narrative and administrative papyri, the oldest inscribed papyri ever discovered in Egypt so far. Some clearly name King Khufu and give important details and describe activities in close relation to the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza.
This lecture will first focus on the latest archaeological discoveries at the Wadi al-Jarf and then provide a new overview on some of the papyri, which underline a complex organization and well-structured logistics for the royal projects and expeditions 4600 years ago.
Dr. Gregory Marouard is Research Associate in Egyptian Archaeology, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.
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