The Gaza Research Project

The Gaza Research Project 

Project details 

Location: Gaza City and Wadi Gaza adjacent to Tell al-Ajjul 

Year: 1997–2000 

Project team 

  • Professor Joanne Clarke, University of East Anglia 
  • Professor Louise Steel, University of Wales, Trinity St David 
  • Dr Mohammedmoin Sadeq, Director of the Department of Antiquities, Gaza, now University of Toronto 
  • Dr Bill Manley 
  • Dr R. Neil Munro 

Project description  

The Gaza Research Project (GRP) was set up in 1996 to examine the evidence for settlement in the Gaza region during the second millennium BC and to assess the region’s wider external contacts, specifically with Egypt and the Mediterranean world. Our research was predicated upon the assumption that the area was occupied by gateway communities that played an important role in international exchange systems between the Asiatic landmass, Egypt (and Africa) and the Mediterranean basin.  We conducted a series of separate, clearly defined field projects in Old Gaza city and in the region of Tell el-Ajjul at the site of el-Moghraqa. We also re-examined material collected during earlier excavations at el-Moghraqa.  

In 1996 the Palestinian Department of Antiquities, Gaza, identified a previously unknown site dating to the second millennium BC, this was el-Moghraqa, north of Tell el-Ajjul. The site later turned out to be most likely a northern extent of the mound of Ajjul. The cultural remains recovered from the surface included a series of terracotta cones stamped with the cartouches of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut. These artefacts are unique amongst the cultural assemblages of the Levant and are most closely paralleled by Egyptian funerary cones of the Eighteenth Dynasty from Thebes. Fieldwork conducted by the Gaza Research Project (GRP) in 1999 and 2000 examined the archaeological context of the cones, with the purpose of identifying their function and assessing the symbolic significance of this Egyptianizing material within a Levantine context.  

The Project was generously supported by the Council for British Research in the Levant and the Antiquaries Society. 


Project bibliography

Steel, L., Manley, B., Clarke, J., and Sadeq, M., (2002). ‘Late Bronze Age Gaza: Prestige Production at el-Moghraqa,’ Antiquity, 939-40. 

Clarke, J., Steel, L., Sadeq, M., and Manley, W.P., (2004). ‘Gaza Research Project: 1998 survey of the old city of Gaza’, Levant 36, 31-36.

Steel, L., Clarke, J., Sadeq, M., Manley, W. P., McCarthy, A., and Munro, N., (2004). ‘Gaza Research Project. Report of 1999 and 2000 seasons at al-Moghraqa’, Levant 36, 37-88.

Steel, L., Manley, W.P. and Clarke, J., and Sadeq, M., (2004). ‘Egyptian ‘Funerary Cones’ from el-Moghraqa, Gaza’. The Antiquaries Journal, 319-333. 


El-Moghraqa prior to excavation, © Joanne Clarke
Moain Sadeq at Tell el-Ajjul, © Joanne Clarke
Wadi Ghazzeh from the region of el-Moghraqa, © Joanne Clarke