Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean — 16.2004(2005)

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48 and 32. PREFIMINARY REPORT, 2004
Edyta Klimaszewska-Drabot & Artur Obluski

Fieldwork carried out on Saffi Island in the
2004 season by an expedition from the
Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeo-
logy,1 concerned altogether five grave sites:
7, 32 (which appeared to be a "quasi-mor-

tuary" site of stone cairns with no burials
beneath them), 48, 56 and 63- The first
three of these sites are reported on in this
preliminary account (for their location see
map in Fig. 1. on p. 326.


The site of Saffi 7 (N18°47T8.6";
E32°01'13.6") lies on the eastern edge of
a broad wadi taking a westward course from
the rocky plateau in the middle of the island.
It comprised three tumuli featuring a stone
coat (according to an earlier unpublished
survey report by P. and M. Osypinski), two
immediately adjoining ones and a third situ-
ated at a certain distance to the north. This
isolated tumulus had suffered heavy dam-
ages from water penetration and was thus
considered of little promise archaeological-
ly, hence the choice fell on the other two.
The first grave to be excavated was cov-
ered with a stone coat measuring on the out-
side perimeter 5.10 x 3.80 m, with prac-
tically no stones preserved in the central
part (1.60 x 1.90 m). The burial pit was
oval, widening slightly on the eastern side,
scooped just 0.10 m into the hard clay of the
ground at a point just off to the north with
respect to the mound center [Fig. 1]. The

body had been interred in contracted posi-
tion, on its right side, head to west and
hands in front of the face [Fig. 2). Traces of
ocher were present on the skull, shoulders
and feet. Two shell objects were found in
place. Similar objects were foundduring the
Archaeological Survey of Nubia in the Early
20th century.2 Some of them were of differ-
ent shape, but they all seem to have served
the same purpose. This ha been interpreted
variously by different excavators: as pendants,
buttons, fasteners for leather garments and
hair rings. At Saffi 7, the objects were found
on the skull just above the ears, which
would suggest a function either as earrings
or as hair slides. If they were indeed
earrings, they would have been put on the
upper part of the ear. If they were hair slides,
they would have been usud to hold together
locks of hair or braids just over the ears.
One potsherd was found inside the grave
pit, next to the knee of the skeleton. All the

1 The expedition was directed by Dr. Bogdan Zurawski. The actual excavation team comprised Mrs. Edyta Klimaszewska-
Drabot and Ms. Artur Obtuski. Ms. Habab Idriss Ahmed, NCAM Senior Inspector assigned to the mission, actively joined
in the fieldwork. For the work on Saffi, see overview by B. Zurawski in this volume, 325-328
2 See G.A. Reisner, The Archaeological Survey of Nubia. Report for 1907-1908 (Cairo 1910), 229-230, PI. 70b. 8-9,
cem. 7, grave 121; PI. 70b.15, cem. 41, grave 529; C.M. Firth, The Archaeological Survey of Nubia. Report for 1908-
1909 (Cairo 1912), cem. 69, grave 36; id.. The Archaeological Survey of Nubia. Report for 1909-1910 (Cairo 1915),
123, PI. 36e.2, cem. 101, grave 97.

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