One of the least well known archaeological sites in Upper Egypt is the Second Intermediate Period-early Eighteenth Dynasty townsite of Deir el-Ballas in the Qena Governorate, beside 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 l901. During the season’s work, he uncovered the remains of a large royal palace, a series of cemeteries, and a settlement. Unfortunately, the excavations were never published and the field notes were so brief that any in-depth study of the excavation was impossible. In order to clarify the records of the expedition and enable publication of the site, I undertook four seasons of survey and clearance at the site in l980, l983, 1984 and 1986 under the sponsorship of the American Research Center and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The results of these seasons were published in a Preliminary report by the American Research Center in Egypt.
During this work, detailed maps were made of the site and plans of the North Palace and a number of the houses excavated by Reisner During the course of survey work we realized that there were many areas of the site which Reisner had only partially excavated or not cleared at all. The discovery of the latter area we owe to the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, who intervened on our behalf to have the land cleared of fuel stacked there by the potters in the modern town, which had obscured the area for many years and was the cause of considerable damage.
Now, however, the growth of the modern village and the construction of a number of roads along the desert edge now threatens to obliterate significant parts of the site. Thanks to the concern of Mustafa Waziri, now the chief inspector of Qena, I was alerted to the danger and hope to go back this winter to work with him on ways to protect the site from further destruction.