A Pan Grave Cemetery: Area H3
On a small north-south spur jutting out from Area H2 our survey revealed a series of Pan Grave burials (Figure 1).1 The graves were heavily disturbed, but collection of surface remains was productive, providing us with a small, yet varied, corpus of decorated and polished sherds typical of the Pan Grave culture, associated with at least two sherds from Upper Egyptian ceramic tradition of the Second Intermediate Period: a storage jar rim to neck2 (Figure 2a; Nile B2) and Marl A3 cup with slightly outflaring rim3 (Figure 2b). The Pan Grave ceramic material includes five partial vessel profiles: Figure 3a-c are black-topped red-ware;4 Figure 3d has a yellowish-brown polished exterior;5 Figure 3e has a red exterior with incised decoration.6 The diversity of surface treatment and decoration among the smaller Pan Grave sherds is striking (Figure 4).7 One of the more unusual decorative schemes are the sherds with deeply incised curved lines; parallels do not appear in the Pan Grave cemeteries from Nubia, but similar decoration is found in the cemeteries of Mostagedda8 and Balabish.9
Two of the circular burials were cleared of sand debris, revealing the characteristic round, shallow Pan-Grave tombs dug into the wadi deposit (Figure 4a, M08-09/H3.2);10 the interior of M08-09/H3.1, which appears to be the tomb of a child, was coated with a mud plaster.11 In addition to the ceramic remains, both Pan Grave tombs contained fragments of worked leather, a common object type in Nubian burials.
The newly discovered Pan Grave cemetery at Mo‘alla augments the known Pan Grave material from ed-Deir12 (12 km to the south) and Esna;13 since only a few sherds from each of those sites is published, the recording and clearance of the Pan Grave cemetery at Mo‘alla may provide new data regarding regional variations in this wide-spread Nubian culture.14 Although the clearance of two burials and collection of surface remains around the Pan Grave cemetery does not allow any definite conclusions, additional clearance in the Pan Grave cemetery may shed further light on the history of this region during the Theban-Hyksos conflicts. Future excavations will most likely confirm the recent re-evaluation of the Hyksos blocks from Gebelein, which were probably spoils of war after the Theban victory in the north, rather than evidence for Fifteenth Dynasty construction projects and/or military zones in the area of Gebelein.15 Considering the false importance that has been attributed to these blocks, the Mo‘alla Survey Project’s results will hopefully contribute to a more accurate understanding of the geo-political situation of the Third Nome during the Second Intermediate Period.