Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissen­schaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Archäologie


The Coptite and Theban Eastern Desert hinterlands Landscape archaeological survey project

(since 2023, director: Dr. Mohamed Osman Abdollah)





CTEDH survey project investigates the evidence of human coexistence and mobility in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. The survey project uses digital documentation in the field, using GNSS geolocation technology and SFM photogrammetry techniques. Also, modern satellite technology and GIS spatial analysis are used to record and examine the data. The focus is placed on the modeling of archaeological landscapes and human agency in micro-landscapes.

Several data types are involved, as archaeological sites and material culture are documented within the spatial frame of the landscape, integrating new data from unexplored areas. All this documented database will be involved in a sequence of spatial and archaeological analyses. this investigation aims not only to discover and document this area but also to establish its chronological and spatial significance within the ancient landscape of the Eastern Desert.


Project description:

The area chosen for the survey project is characterised by the existence of several Wadis, which vary between major Wadis and smaller watersheds, such as Wadi El-Qarn, Matula, Wadi Zeidun and Wadi Medamud. These big and extensive Wadi systems provide wide access into the depths of the desert in an unexplored area between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea hills.

At the heart of this part, Gebel el Nizzi stands as a high and difficult landscape (800m high). However, what is thought to be an obstacle in the way between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea is actually full of human activity and ancient routes, some of which lead towards the east. the Red Sea Hills. Gebel el Nizzi is one of the most interesting features in the study area is Gebel el-Nezzi. it forms a natural hilly terrain right at the edge of the Nile Valley, and it dominates the landscape east of Thebes. Also, it is dissected with the Wadi networks that all lead to Higaza, Khuzam, Medamud, and Thebes, which would increase the possibility of finding evidence of human activity related to these main archaeological sites. Moreover, although this Gebel is explored geologically (K. S. Sandford 1934; S. Farouk et al. 2018), it was completely unexplored or surveyed for archaeological evidence before the beginning of this project in 2023.The Wadi Medamud system is one of the interesting study areas in the Gebel el Nizzi area. The Wadi extends from the Theban nome towards the southeast, turning around Gebel el Nizzi formations and making contact with the other Wadis to the east, which leads to the Red Sea Hills. 



1. Campaign September 2023:




In a joint venture the CTEDH project and “Mobility between Nile Valley and Eastern Desert” started with a small team its first field campaign in September 2023. Preliminary to this campaign remote sensing analysis have been done on the available satellite images and digital elevation models of the study area. The material used was mainly Google Earth imagery and ESRI satellite images, Landsat Imagery, STRM 1ARC, Nasa ASTRA V3 and recently TandemX 12m digital elevation models. The target was to identify
potential archaeological sites in the area of research. Similarly, one of the aims was to identify possible ancient routes in this area via Least-Cost-Paths and Agent-Based-Modelling.




Following this initial work the team started surveying the complicated and big watershed of Wadi el Medamud, along with Wadi Hininat, the northern part of Wadi Tinidbah, Gebel Ghadir Abu Kalb, and the northern watershed of Wadi Umm Khyam. The team chose these wadis to cover the southern watershed of Gebel el Nezzi, and mainly to try to understand the movement activity in this area. The survey results revealed the existence of at least 5 unknown ancient routes and 16 new ancient archaeological sites.


Team members

Dr. Mohamed Osman Abdollah (director of CTEDH)

Dr. Rebecca Döhl (director of “Mobility between Nile Valley and Eastern Desert”)

Mr. El Sayed Shoura (PhD candidate in Cairo University)

Mr. Ahmed el Teery (Driver)