The American Research Center in Eygpt

Expeditions Archive

Expeditions Archive

UCLA/RUG Fayum Project

University of California
Directors: Willeke Wendrich, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); René Cappers, Rijkuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)
September 2008 - December 2008
October 2012 - December 2012

The desert north and east of Lake Qarun in the Fayum is well known for its important archaeological remains, dating from prehistory to the Greco-Roman Period. The main focus of the Fayum Project is the landscape as an integral part of human life, habitation, subsistence, social and economic activities. The most obvious remains date to the Greco-Roman Period: the famous town of Karanis (Kom Aushim), and the Roman village sites of Qaret Rusas and el-Qarah el-Hamra, found in 2003. In Karanis, an agricultural town, the study of agricultural remains in relation to archaeological evidence of other economic activities is at the center of the research effort.


Students working at the Neolithic site at Kom W. All photos: Willeke Wendrich

Another major component comprises the prehistoric remains--that is, large scatters of pottery, flint, and bone in the desert, especially around geological formations, that are indicators of ancient lake shores. Re-examination of archaeological sites excavated in the 1920's have resulted in spectacular new information, and the expansion of the survey has brought much new material to light. The earliest evidence of agriculture in Egypt was found near the ancient shores of Lake Qarun, and it is now clear that wheat and barley constituted just one type of subsistence in a well-balanced existence of foraging, hunting, animal husbandry, and small-scale agricultural activities.

The Fayum Project is a cooperative effort of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands), with contributions from several other institutions world-wide. ww2thumbA select group of students joins the project each year in the Fall, for a field school organized by the University of California, Los Angeles, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (further information at

The Fayum Project combines survey, excavation, and geophysical and surface recording with the development of a landscape management plan, a type of cultural heritage management that perceives the landscape as an integral part of the human habitat and recognizes that an archaeological "site" exists in a natural and cultural context, which should be encompassed in preservation concerns.

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