The ancient settlement at Tell Tebilla2 is located in the eastern delta, 12 kilometers to the north of Tell Rub'a (Mendes), along the now defunct Mendesian branch of the Nile. The site was occupied during the late Old Kingdom to First Intermediate Period,3 the Second Intermediate Period to early Dynasty 18,4 the Third Intermediate Period to the Roman period,5 and in recent times.6 The southern location
1 The Tell Tebilla project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada (1999–2005), an American Research Center in Egypt
cultural documentation grant (2000), and private donors from Los Angeles, and is
supported by the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Department of Near and
Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. Further thanks go to the
officials of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo and el-Mansoura, the munici-
pality of Dikirnis, the staff of the water filtration plant, the villagers at Tell Tebilla,
and the in-field and Toronto project staff, for all their assistance and encouragement
towards the success of the Tell Tebilla project. This writer drew figures 1, 2:1–3, 3:
1–6, 4:1–3, 4:5–6, 4:8, and 5, incorporating the topographic map by L. Pavlish into
figure 1, while L. Chinery and C. Gilbert drew figures 2:4, 4:4, and 4:7.
2 For early work at Tell Tebilla, called Tell Balala elsewhere, and its location,
see pp. 39 and 271 (map grid ref.G3) in Porter, and Moss, 1934. A more recent
summary and bibliography is provided in Malek, 1985.
3 The northeastern part of the water plant, beyond the northern end of the cur-
rent mound, yielded fragments from crude bread moulds and carinated bowls with
red slip and burnishing, duplicating First Intermediate Period forms from Mendes
4 Project ceramicist, Rexine Hummel, noted up to a dozen sherds from black-rimmed
bowls and two Tell el-Yahudiyeh ware sherds dating from the Second Intermediate
Period to early Dynasty 18 (no later than the reign of Thutmose III).
5 To date, the mound has produced very few Ptolemaic or Roman potsherds, with
the majority of the pottery representing the Saite to Persian periods. This may accord
well with the general destruction of delta settlements, ca. 342 B.C., by Artaxerxes III,
who likely caused the major destruction (i.e., burn debris) visible across one of the
last strata at Tebilla. In a brief visit to Tellé Billeh (Tebilla) in 1887, F.LI. Griffith
noted numerous ancient shells (Ampullaria ovata) in the upper stratum. He suggested
they indicated Roman occupation since this mollusc represented a favourite Roman
food source and appeared in abundance at other sites, such as Naukratis (p. 70 in
6 The modern village occupies an irregularly shaped, lower residual strip of the
eastern side of the mound, raised 1–2 metres above the surrounding fields and cover-
ing an area of 100 metres east-west by over 400 metres north-south.