Rethinking burial dates at a Graeco-Roman Cemetery: Fag el-Gamous, Fayoum, Egypt


Christianity, Mummification, Burial, Fayoum, Egypt, Graeco-Roman, Radiocarbon dating


The Fag el-Gamous cemetery is a 125 hectare Graeco-Roman necropolis on the eastern edge of the Fayoum Depression. The 1000 + burials excavated to date at the cemetery are found largely in rectangular shafts at 0.3–3.0 m deep and oriented on an east–west axis. The high burial density, varying between 1.3 and 3.0 burials per square meter, is due in part to multiple burials in the same shaft. The stratigraphically deepest burials in a shaft are buried head east and later burials in the same shaft are buried head west. It has been argued that this directional shift occurred as early as the late first to the early second century AD. AMS radiocarbon dating of the available samples shows that the deepest and presumably oldest head-east burial dates to AD 79–230, and the oldest head-west burial dates to AD 128–284. One of the deepest signs of Christianity, a cross symbol, is present in the outer wrapping of a burial dated AD 545–645. The head-east and head-west burial practices in the Fag el-Gamous cemetery coexisted for at least 200 years.

Original Publication Citation

Evans, R. Paul, David Whitchurch and Kerry Muhlestein, “Re-thinking Burial Dates at a Graeco-Roman Cemetery: Fag el Gamous, Fayoum, Egypt,” the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 2 (2015): 109-114.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Science Direct




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor