ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – A new exhibition at the University of Michigan’s Kelsey Museum of Archaeology will explore the story of an excavation site in Egypt initiated by the University in the 1920s and 1930s.

The exhibition “Karanis Revealed: Discovering the Past and Present of a Michigan Excavation in Egypt” opens Friday, Sept. 16. It will illuminate the historical records of a single village community located 80 kilometers southwest of Cairo in the Egyptian countryside during Egypt’s Graeco-Roman period.

Karanis Revealed will be presented in two phases:

Sept. 16 through Dec. 18: Part I looks at aspects of village life during the community’s early centuries under the Ptolemaic dynasty. These include the site’s agricultural cultivation, the role of pagan religions, and evidence of more esoteric magical practices.

Jan. 27 through May 6: Part II follows the changes that took place in Karanis with the beginning of the Roman occupation of Egypt and then later with the advent of Christianity. The displays include collections of Roman glass, tax rolls on papyrus, and the leather breastplate of a Roman soldier.

Visitors can see main artifact cases as well as some of the original sketches and architectural drawings made by the Michigan excavation team in the early 20th century, illustrating the process through which archaeologists move from preliminary notes and diagrams to completed cross-sections of entire communities. Using interactive elements, visitors will be able to explore the exhibition on their own.

Everyday life in ancient communities is often obscured from modern eyes due to the erosion of evidence over the centuries. The archaeological process, however, allows scholars to reconstruct an understanding of past societies from the surviving artifacts. Through Karanis Revealed, museum visitors will have the opportunity to unearth the daily life of a rural village more than 2,000 years old and retrace the steps of the scholars who discovered it.

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