Kom Firin

Local histories and traditions

In 2005, a project was instigated to interview the inhabitants of the modern village which lies adjacent to the site. Like many sites in Egypt, the site has suffered from natural erosion and decay, illicit and official excavations and particularly the widescale quarrying of archaeological deposits to use as agricultural fertiliser (sebakh).

However, such processes have rarely been seen from the viewpoint of the people who live on and around the ancient sites. The interviewees revealed fascinating details of previous excavations, but also the organisation of sebakh-removal. Visit of children from Nesim school to the excavations at Kom Firin In addition, the existence of local mythologies related to the site became evident, including the Tawahah, a goat-footed woman who would roam the site at night.

Several local etymologies for the site name were proposed: 'Firin' was the name of a legendary king, or was a degradation of kiffary, the Arabic word for non-believers. The name of the ancient site remains unknown.

Another project sought to create a dialogue with local schools. This included on-site visits, but also presentations by team-members in nearby Nesim school.

This complemented a joint initiative between the British Museum and Torriano Junior School in North London, to use materials from Kom Firin to help with teaching Egypt in a cross-curricular manner.

An Arabic leaflet on the first three seasons of work at Kom Firin is available:

Download document (pdf 275kb)

This fieldwork would not be possible without the permission and support of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt. Acknowledgement is also due to the staff at the Cairo Museum, who facilitated research on the material from Kom Firin.
The work at Kom Firin is generously funded through The Townley Group, part of the British Museum Friends. Thanks are also due to the Archaeological Geophysics Laboratory of the University of Akron (Ohio) and the Czech Institute of Egyptology. In addition, the Egypt Exploration Society and Vodafone Egypt provided logistical support. Since 2008, the project has been generously sponsored to honour Safwat el-Mokadem.

Images (from top):

  • Interviewing inhabitants of Kom Firin to record local histories of the ancient site
  • Visit of children from Nesim school to the excavations at Kom Firin (October 2005)