Ismant el-Kharab, ancient Kellis
The site of ancient Kellis, modern-day Ismant el-Kharab, is located in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. The name Kellis is attested in documentary material from the site, which also reveals that the village once belonged to the Mothite nome. The ancient settlement is denoted by numerous mud-brick structures and a dominant temple complex, and the main phases of occupation at the site are dated from the early Roman to late Roman Period (i.e., 1st-2nd to 4th-5th centuries CE). Kellis covers an area of approximately one square kilometer and is bounded upon its northwest and southeast by dried up wadis (water courses).
Several early travellers and modern Egyptologists visited the site and left brief reports of their observations. They include: B. Drovetti, J. G. Wilkinson, H. E. Winlock, G. Elias and Ahmed Fakhry. The first detailed examination, however, did not commence until 1981-2, during an extensive archaeological survey of the oasis undertaken by the Dakhleh Oasis Project (DOP). In accordance with the DOP's system of reference, the site was ascribed the number 31/420-D6-1. The primary stages of planning and mapping of the site were conducted at this time in conjunction with small-scale test excavations. Consequently, the site was divided into areas (see map below) as part of the initial surveying process. Major excavations at Ismant el-Kharab began in 1986 under the auspices of the DOP. The principal investigators for this site are Dr. Colin Hope and Dr. Gillian Bowen of Monash University.
- Area A
- This area includes Houses 1-5, a Bath House, the Small East and Large East Christian Churches, and a Nymphaeum.
- Area B
- The area contains a large colonnaded complex, adjacent complexes, richly decorated residencies and columbariums.
- Area C
- This area includes residential and industrial zones which exhibit some of the earliest activity on the site, perhaps contemporary with the early phases of the temple.
- Area D
- This area is dominated by the Temple of Tutu, a series of enclosure walls surrounding it, the West Church Complex and tombs.
- North Tomb Group
- The group features a row of monumental and large tombs located in the northwest of the site.
- South Tomb Group
- This southern group contains similar monumental tombs as found in the north of the site.
- There are two cemeteries adjacent to the settlement: the west cemetery (K1) and east cemetery (K2).
A selection of reports and articles based on the work at Kellis are provided here in electronic format:
Report to the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) of the 2007 Monash Excavations:
- Report 2007 [PDF 2.7MB]
Reproduced from Buried History 42, 2006 by G. E. Bowen, T. Chandler, C. A. Hope and D. Martin - courtesy of the Editor of Buried History and the Director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology:
- Reconstructing Ancient Kellis Part II [PDF 410KB]
Reproduced from Buried History 41, 2005 by G. E. Bowen, T. Chandler and D. Martin - courtesy of the Editor of Buried History and the Director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology:
- Reconstructing Ancient Kellis [PDF 710KB]
Reproduced from G. E. Bowen and C. A. Hope, eds, The Oasis Papers 3, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2003:
- The Small East Church at Ismant el-Kharab [PDF 967KB]
- Some Observations on Christian Burial Practices at Kellis [PDF 166KB]
- The Excavations at Ismant el-Kharab from 2000 to 2002 [PDF 8.1MB]
- The Gladiator Jug from Ismant el-Kharab [PDF 1.25MB]
Reproduced from C. A. Hope and G. E. Bowen, eds, Dakhleh Oasis Project: Preliminary Reports on the 1994-1995 to 1998-1999 Field Season, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2002:
- The Fourth-Century Churches at Ismant el-Kharab [PDF 4.26MB]
- Excavations in the Settlement of Ismant el-Kharab in 1995-1999 [PDF 10.1MB]
Reproduced from The Artefact 24, 2001 by G. E. Bowen:
An extensive list of publications relating to Ismant el-Kharab is also available for consultation.
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Paul Kucera - Web Editor (design, creation and implementation of the Ismant el-Kharab/Kellis section of the Centre's website)