Why Deir el-Ballas?

As both one of the few substantially preserved pharaonic Egyptian settlements as well as the forward capital for the Theban kings during the Hyksos expulsion, Deir el-Ballas is of great archaeological and historical importance. Today, however, the site is at extreme risk from both looting and even more importantly from the uncontrolled expansion of the modern town of Ed-Deir.

Deir el-Ballas was originally excavated by the Phoebe A. Hearst Expedition of the University of California under the direction of George A. Reisner in the years l900 to 1901. During the season’s work he uncovered the remains of a large royal palace, called the North Palace and a massive watchtower at the Theban end of the site known as the South Palace, along with a series of cemeteries, villas, and a workmen’s settlement. Unfortunately, the excavations were never published and the field notes were so brief that any in depth study of the excavation was impossible. To understand the site better four seasons of survey and clearance were undertaken in l980, l983, 1984 and 1986 under the sponsorship of the American Research Center and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Unfortunately, since that time many features of the site have been damaged or destroyed. While serving as Chief Inspector of Qena, Mustapha Waziri requested our help in protecting the site. With that aim The Ancient Egyptian Heritage and Archaeology Fund in concert with the American University in Cairo has begun a program of work with the Antiquities Inspectorate in Qena to define those areas threatened by urban expansion, and devise strategies to protect them from encroachment and undertake the stabilization, protection and preservation of the standing monuments.