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Drill auger A tool used to obtain small soil samples. It consists of a handle with metre length attachments and a drill head. The latter has a gap which captures soil samples, or in sophisticated examples, long sections of soil like an apple corer. The drill is screwed into the ground about 20 cm at a time, withdrawn, the soil collected for analysis and the drill put back into the drill hole. As it descends the metre lengths are gradually added to the handle. It is possible to reach a depth of around 11m with a manual drill auger kit, but mechanical devices are used for deeper coring. The drill head collects soil and anything in it including small pieces of pottery, stone or bone which are used to determine the presence of human activity at certain levels.

Ezbet Arabic word for a small hamlet or village, traditionally consisting of one or two close family units. Many are now much larger.

Gafir Local man appointed by the government to act as a guard of Antiquities sites. They usually live next to the site for which they are responsible. Some large sites have more than one gafir. Visitors to sites should expect to speak to the gafir and explain what they are doing there, otherwise they will be refused access.

Geophysical survey Survey work carried out using any kind of apparatus which responds to and measures differences in the physical properties of the earth. Examples: resistivity, magnetometry, ground-penetrating radar.

Kom A mound or hill, sometimes with ancient material.

Magnetometer survey A survey carried out using a piece of equipment, usually a fluxgate gradiometer, which measures differences in the magnetic field of the earth. This can be affected by burnt material, such as brick or pottery, by metals, such as iron, bronze, by voids and by mud-brick in mud or sand, etc. The instrument is carried over a site and measures changes in the magnetic field of the earth. The data are downloaded onto a computer and computer software processes it in order to produce an image of the magnetic anomalies in the soil. It can show material up to 4m below the surface of the ground.

Saqiya Animal-driven water wheel used to raise water from canals into filed irrigation systems. The wheel were mounted with small pots (qadus) which can have a small knob at the bottom used to tie them to the wheel. If such pottery is found at a site in concentrations it may suggest the presence of a water wheel.

SCA Supreme Council for Antiquities – the government department in Egypt responsible for all antiquity land in its care and all antiquities dating from the Prehistoric to Islamic periods. The Department oversees all foreign work in Egypt and have a network of local officers who administer and carry out fieldwork as well.

Sebakh Organic compost or manure, often formed from mud-brick and settlement debris on ancient sites. It is used as fertiliser and in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was dug away from many ancient site on an industrial scale for use as fertiliser or in land reclamation projects.

Sebakhin – People who dig up sebakh.

Sheikh A man celebrated for his wisdom, kindness and piety. After their death the tombs of sheikhs often become the focus of visits from local people who pray to him.

Sherds An archaeological term for small fragments of broken pottery. In American-English the term used is ‘shard’, whereas in English-English ‘shard’ is used of slivers of broken glass.

TaflNaturally-occurring sandy clay mix, found in the desert and limestone rock formations.

Tell A settlement site, often building up over time to create a small hill.