On October 14, 2010 the SCA will hold a conference entitled: Medinet Madi: The Past, the Present and the Future –Shedding Light on the Scientific Work in the Archaeological Site of Medinet Madi at the Ahmed Pasha Kamel Hall at the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The event will be hosted by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the Italian Embassy and the UTL Office in Cairo. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Vice Minister of Culture, and HE Claudio Pacifico, Ambassador of Italy, will give opening speeches.
This conference is being organized under the ISSEMM Project (Institutional Support to Supreme Council of Antiquities for Environmental Monitoring and Management of the Cultural Heritage Sites). The ISSEMM project aims to improve the management of archaeological sites in Egypt and its efforts have been applied on the case studies of North Saqqara Necropolis and Fayoum Oasis. This conference will focus on the project’s efforts at the site of Medinet Madi in the Fayoum Oasis.
The ISSEMM Project began in 2005 and expanded to include training courses and on site administration in January 2009. It is acting withinn the framework of the Egyptian-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program Phase II, which is one of the international channels through which the Government of Egypt implements policies and actions to support and enhance cultural and environmental national heritage.
The ISSEMM Project is entirely funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Directorate General for the Development Cooperation, who have allotted €3,500,000 to the budget. The Project is directed by His Excellency, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, and the Scientific Committee is chaired by Prof. Edda Bresciani, Accademica dei Lincei, and Prof. Ali Radwan. The Scientific Committee is supported by a Technical Director, as well as an Egyptian – Italian team of technical managers. The University of Pisa, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche del Mondo Antico, has been appointed with the task of technical and scientific assistance to the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which is the Implementing Agency of the project.
The site of Medinet Madi:
The ruins of Medinet Madi contain a considerable number of monuments, including the only temple of the Middle Kingdom – with texts and engraved scenes – still remaining in Egypt. Achille Vogliano discovered this temple (Temple A) and the Greco-Roman additions, dated to the 4th-5th century, in 1935.
Medinet Madi was founded in the Middle Kingdom as an agricultural village called Dja. The temple was constructed during the reigns of Amenemaht III and Amenemaht IV, and was dedicated to the cobra goddess, Renenutet, and the crocodile god “Sobek of Scedet” – patron of the entire region and the capitol, Scedet. During the Ptolemaic period, Dja became known as Narmouthis, a Greek name meaning “the city of Renenutet-Hermouthis.” Its temple flourished and more monuments were built north and south of the 12th Dynasty temple.
Medinet Madi saw intense settlement during the Coptic period and life continued on the site into the 9th century. The Arabs called it Medinet Madi “the city of the past” and this is the name that still identifies the archaeological site today.
The University of Pisa has carried out exploration of Medinet Madi since 1978. They have focused their work in the southern or Coptic area and to date have identified ten churches dating to the 5th – 7th century. These finds have been extremely important in understanding the history of Fayoum’s ecclesiastical architecture. Thanks to a contribution from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2004, the Pisa mission was able to rescue blocks containing four Greek hymns to Isis. They were fully restored and are now on display at the Museum of Karanis.
Archaeological expeditions conducted between 1997 and 2004, in collaboration with the University of Messina, uncovered a new Ptolemaic temple (Temple C) dedicated to the worship of two crocodiles. A unique feature of the temple is a barrel-vaulted structure adjoining the temple, which was used for the incubation of crocodile eggs.
In recent years, methodical topographical survey, photo-interpretation of the site and geophysical exploration has contributed to an understanding of the urban tissue of the ancient village. These surveys also created a chronological stratification of the site from the Middle Kingdom to the Late Byzantine Period.