Paper Proposal

Rescue Archaeology in Egypt

For my research project I was thinking about writing on rescue archaeology in Egypt and how it compares to normal archaeology. I will look at the negatives and positives of emergency or salvage excavations and discuss rescue projects that have taken place in Egypt.

I plan on first discussing what rescue archaeology is, which is high speed excavation usually done in areas that are threatened by construction and land development of some kind. Often times projects for highways, flood plains of dams, and other types of construction call for rescue archaeology to record important archaeological data and salvage as much material culture as possible before a site is destroyed for land development. Because of time constraints for these projects, archaeologists may be called in to do a quick analysis and excavation to document important archaeological remains before they are wiped away for good. Unlike a normal excavation, these projects have to be executed very quickly so construction can commence.

Next I plan on discussing the positives and negatives of rescue archaeology. A positive is that the remains that are about to be destroyed get a chance to be documented and some material culture gets saved. This gives researchers the chance to take what they have found and analyze the information to learn more about the past in this area even after it is destroyed. As I do more research I will include examples of this from past projects. A negative is time. Because these projects must be carried out quickly, there is a chance for some sloppy archaeology to occur. Some things may be over looked or not properly documented. I plan on giving examples of issues of time in actual rescue projects.

I will discuss the rescue project when the High Dam at Aswan was built. This will include what the project was, the time frame, what was found and salvaged and what was destroyed or lost due to the project. One of the articles I plan on using for this is:

Neville, Tove. “Past Threatened by Aswan Dam.”The Science News-Letter , Vol. 78, No. 5 (Jul. 30, 1960), pp. 74-75 Published by: Society for Science & the Public Article Stable URL:

This article discusses what the project was and what monuments were to be effected by the construction of the damn.

I will also discuss the Chinese-built dam, the Merowe, a controversial hydro-electric project in the Nile Valley. Two sources I plan on using for this are:

“Merowe Dam Project.” Merowe Dam Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2012. .

Bosshard, Peter. “China Dams the World.” World Policy Journal , Vol. 26, No. 4 (Winter, 2009/2010), pp. 43-51 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Article Stable URL:

Through more research I may include another example of rescue archaeology and it’s significance in Egypt. I will also work on the organization of the paper more and may expand on some things.

I will wrap up this paper recapping the importance of rescue archaeology and how it has impacted Egypt and its history.

2 thoughts on “Paper Proposal

  1. You may want to check out:
    Ahmed, S. M. (2003). Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project (MDASP). Sudan & Nubia, 7, 11–14. Available online from:

    That website has quite a few articles posted from the journal Sudan & Nubia. Merowe Salvage projects undertaken by the British Museum, among others, have produced a lot of literature (BM lit, though will always be in English ;-)). You may also want to take a look at the site report on Mis Island, posted on this class’s wiki by Jen Vollner for some leads on Merowe Salvage Archaeology.

  2. This is a really great idea for a paper. You might also want to look into the effect of these salvage projects on the modern populations that are living in these regions. There are several good articles written by archaeologists and human rights activists that analyze both sides of the issue. Check out: “Ethical implications of salvage archaeology and dam building: The clash between archaeologists and local people in Dar al-Manasir, Sudan” by Henriette Hafsaas-Tsakos in the Journal of Social Archaeology and “Cultural resource management in Africa: challenges, dangers, and opportunities” by Noemie Arazi in Azania: Archaeological Reseach in Africa. (I have PDFs of both if you would like them).

    The ethical issues of these large construction projects aside, you have hit on an important issue for all salvage projects – the balance between the quality of the archaeology completed, the quantity of archaeological artifacts and human remains recovered, and the time constraints imposed by the impending construction. The research projects gleaned from artifacts and human remains uncovered during these excavations may not be perfectly constructed and could be biased because of the constraints imposed by the hurried time frame. However, these studies are incredibly important as often, these archaeological sites would not have been studied otherwise and the information about the past people would have been lost and destroyed. I am excited to read your paper!

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