Guide to the 4CARE and SKOS databases
Created by the DEChriM team and showcasing the project’s archaeological material basis, the 4CARE (Fourth-Century Christian Archaeological Record of Egypt) database is a collective endeavour initiated in 2019. The database contains both sites and artefacts directly related to the material culture of Christianity in fourth-century Egypt. Although still in process of being populated, the database aims to provide an exhaustive inventory of the fourth-century Christian material found in Egypt. Conceived as a relational database, 4CARE presents archaeological sites and mobile archaeological material interconnected.
Two types of locations are marked on the maps included on the starting page of 4CARE: localities where Christian archaeological vestiges (churches, monasteries, cemeteries or even single tombs or graves) are preserved, and localities where Christian objects, but no monuments or funerary structures, where discovered. The former type of site is marked on the maps with the symbol , while the latter with the symbol .
All the sites included in the database (called Places) are described on a specific page, which contains several descriptors:
- toponyms in several languages, both ancient and modern;
- an internal numeric identifier (DEChriM ID);
- external numeric identifiers from other relevant gazetteers (Trismegistos, Pleiades, PAThs Atlas);
- an ancient name considered as standard (in Greek or Coptic);
- geographical coordinates (expressed in decimal degrees);
- the dates of the occupation (expressed in termini, which are either absolute, when available, or relative);
- the type of settlement (….);
- the criteria considered in the dating of the occupation of the site;
- a description providing an overview of the main areas and monuments of the site;
- a very brief summary of the archaeological research carried out on the site;
- a bibliography, which, although not exhaustive, tends to cover the most relevant studies.
Each archaeological site is accompanied also by external links to websites that refer to it. The internal links connect a site with the archaeological material associated with it that is included in the database. The section Json data provides elements of selected machine readable information. A selection of maps and photos accompany each site. Finally, the section 3D models includes photogrammetric models and 3D reconstructions of areas of sites or of specific monuments. These can be visualised in a Sketchfab window in three different resolutions.
The criterion governing the incorporation of sites in 4CARE is material evidence, built or mobile, dating or datable to the fourth century. Individual built structures or remains thereof that might be assigned to the fourth century on the basis of relative chronology were also included, although they are rare (Ǧabal Mūsā and Maryūṭ/Mareia are two examples). These were incorporated in the database for the sake of exhaustiveness and their dating is duly discussed.
Archaeological sites considered by the Supreme Council of Antiquities as independent archaeological areas are treated in 4CARE as discrete units and individual sites, even in the cases where these sites belonged in Antiquity to a larger settlement, or grouping or settlements. One exception has been made in the 4CARE database to this rule, and that is for Aḫmīm. The reason why several archaeological sites were grouped in 4CARE under the unique entry Aḫmīm is that numerous artefacts retrieved or said to have been found in the area of ancient Panopolis have unspecified provenance and, thus, could have been unearthed in any of the zones that form now the large archaeological area of Aḫmīm.
The 4CARE database aims at gathering Christian artefacts dated to the fourth century found in Egypt, regardless of the location of their production. The material selected for inclusion can be divided into two large groups: textual and non textual objects. The former category (Class: Textual) contains three sorts of texts (Text content): Literary; Subliterary; Documentary. The latter category comprises a variety of object types (Class): Architectural element; Cooking/table/transport/storage ware; Domestic object; Funerary element; Garment/adornment/accessories; Human remains; Liturgical object; Ornamental element. All objects are further defined by Material type, while textual artefacts are also characterised by, for papyrological texts, the Writing medium involved: Codex; Sheet/roll; Label; Ostracon; Tablet; and, for epigraphical texts, the Writing technique: Dipinto; Graffito; Inscription. Finally, the Language is indicated for textual artefacts.
Two main types of criteria underpin the selection of the artefactual material included in the 4CARE database. The first ones are internal Christian markers. In the case of literary texts, these are obvious and are reflected in the literary genre itself: Biblical; Apocryphal/Gnostic/Hermetic; Hagiographic; Theological (including patristic texts, commentaries, homilies, treatises, letters, etc.). The same applies to the Liturgical texts (including prayers, hymns, etc.) categorised in the Subliterary class. In other subliterary (such as amulets, school texts or magical texts) and documentary texts, these internal markers include use of: terms/formulas/concepts suggestive of Christianity; Christian symbols/isopsephy; Nomina sacra; and/or mention to: Christian cult officials (priests, deacons, readers, etc.) or institutions (church, monastery, etc.); Christian people/communities (mentioned as such or through Christian onomastics). To these must be equally added the use of Coptic language, which is taken here as a confessional indicator, as well as materiality suggestive of Christian context (codex, parchment).
Both textual and non textual artefacts lacking the above mentioned criteria might, nonetheless, be included in the database on account of external factors. Thus, when an object is associated with an archaeological context already characterised by assemblages of, or isolated material securely definable as Christian, the object is considered as potentially informative of the material culture of fourth-century Christians in Egypt, although, obviously, not Christian per se.
The 4CARE database includes also Manichaean textual material. The reasons for incorporating these texts – both literary and documentary – lie in the social setting of at least certain Manichaean groups attested in late antique Egypt, and will be explained elsewhere.
The illustrations accompanying archaeological sites and artefacts come form a large variety of sources. While many were produced by the DEChriM team, a large number were obtained from various institutions (museums, research institutions, private collections) and archaeological teams, to which we express our gratitude. Our thanks go particularly to: the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Berlin); the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst (Berlin); the Bodmer Laboratory; Musées royaux d’art et d’histoire (Brussels); the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection (Copenhagen); Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence); Istituto Papirologico “Girolamo Vitelli” (Florence); Bibliothèque de Genève; Papyrus Portal (Bonn, Giessen, Halle, Heidelberg, Jena Köln, Leipzig, Trier, Würzburg); British Library; University of Manchester; Institut de papyrologie de la Sorbonne (Paris); Národní knihovna České republiky (Prague); Český egyptologický ústav (Prague); Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg; Universitätsbibliothek Trier; Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.
The material included in this database is the result of an extensive archaeological survey carried out in Kharga Oasis between 2001 and 2013. This field survey was launched, funded and run by the Institut français d’archéologie orientale (IFAO) in Cairo and was led by Michel Wuttmann. The South Kharga Oasis Survey (SKOS) is thus a collaborative project. The following scholars were members of the SKOS at different times during the thirteen years of the project’s activity: Michel Wuttmann, Thierry Gonon, Sylvie Marchand, Tiphaine Dachy, Béatrix Midant-Reynes, François Briois, Yann Béliez, Marie-Dominique Nenna, Damien Laisney, Victor Ghica, Maël Crépy, Morgan De Dapper, Mohamed Gaber, Bahgat Ibrahim, Magdi Hussein, Mathilde Minotti. Some people participate only a few days: Youri Volokhine, Emad Adli, Bernard Mathieu, Christophe Thiers, Mohamed Hussein, Ayman Hussein, Basem Gehad, Fr. Berteaux, Karim el-Ridy, Marie Millet, Bertrand Bonaventure, Aurélia Masson, Yvan Guermeur, Claire Newton, Florence Martin, Arnault Gigante, Catherine Defernez, Christian Gaubert, Yann Tristant, Alain Lecler, Nicolas Michel, Lucie Cez, Hassan Mohammed Ahmed, Mahmoud Hassan, Mohammed Kamel “Chawqi”, Adel. The inspectors of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who participated in the survey were: Ali el-Bakri, Mohammed Hassan, Gamal, Mahmoud Abd el-Rahman, Ragheb, Hamdi, Mohammed Habib, Mansour and Abd el-Aziz. The head of the site’s keepers, Ahmed Morgan, participated also in the surveys for several days. The drivers, who were key in this “off-road” work, were: Amr Reda, Mukhtar and Ali. Workers who helped in collecting samples and finding our way through the sand dunes were: Abu el-Ezz Abd el-Menem, Badawi el-Taher, Sabri Youssef, Azab Mohammed, Abd el-Razeq, Abd el-Nabi Mohammed Ahmed, Fakhri, Ahmed Gomaa, Nagui Sabri, Mustafa Abd el-Qader, Abd el-Ghani, Hassan Said, Gahalan, Abu el-Qumsan Abdu Hussein, Ahmed Abd el-Rahim, Mohammed Mustafa, Mohammed Sayyed, Ali Marei, Mahmoud Gaber, Yasser Mohammed Hassan, Hassan Hassan Mohammed Soliman, Ahmed Hassan.
The organising, study and publication of the results achieved by the SKOS project are part of the DEChriM project. The publication process has been coordinated by Victor Ghica and Thierry Gonon, in consultation with IFAO and several other members of the SKOS field team.
Pictures included in this database were taken by various members of the project.
The present version of the SKOS database is an abridged variant of the GIS database created at IFAO, which was remodeled and customised for online use. The selection, modification and migration process, from the original PostgreSQL system into this website, were realised by Thierry Gonon and Victor Ghica, with the assistance of Lokranjan Varshney.
A total of 290 sites have been registered, of which 266 are located in the southern part of Kharga, previously mainly known by few sites such as Dush or Shams el-Din. To these 290 archaeological sites are associated 3164 sub-sites (Sous-sites).