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Descriptive Attribute Value(s)
Area Name A7 Bakeries
Description and Bibliography

One of the early areas to be excavated by AERA at Heit el-Ghurab (1991),1 this bakery building was discovered in what was, at that date, Square A7, and was the first of its kind to be discovered in Egypt. This building lies in the eastern end of Gallery Set IV. The bakery is thought to be the oldest "industrial" scale bakery found in Egypt, almost perfectly duplicating what is found in Old Kingdom baking scenes in tomb reliefs. Unlike smaller baking facilities in houses, in which only a handful of small loaves could be produced at one time, this complex appears to have been designed to mass-produce bread in typical Old Kingdom style bedja ceramic molds, most likely in order to supply the inhabitants of the gallery complex.2 There were large vats for mixing dough, and stacks of molds in a corner. One of the most distinctive features of the bakeries is a thick layer of black ash, with a series of "egg carton-like" indentations into which the bread molds would have been placed. The ceramic molds were buried in the hot ash beds, each covered by a heated mold that served as a lid, forming a miniature oven for each loaf of bread. This thick layer of ash was termed "black velvet" due to the fact that most charred plant items had almost totally broken down to a fine powder.

1'Pyramid Age Bakery Reconstructed. Experimental Archaeology Offers Clues to Ancient Baking Technology', ed. by W. Wetterstrom, AERAgram, 1.1 (1996), 6–7.

2For discussion of Heit el-Ghurab bakeries see H. Mahmoud and R. Eissa, 'Bakeries at the Heit El-Ghurab Site: An Introduction', in Settlement and Cemetery at Giza: Papers from the 2010 AERA-ARCE Field School (Boston: Ancient Egypt Research Associates, 2015), pp. 15–32.

Suggested Citation

Claire Malleson, Rebekah Miracle. (2018) "A7-B from Africa/Egypt/Giza/Heit el-Ghurab". In Giza Botanical Database. Claire Malleson, Rebekah Miracle (Ed). Released: 2018-10-22. Open Context. <> ARK (Archive):

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