K-pits (Fayum Desert)

The K-pits are the famous late Paleolithic or early Neolithic granaries in the Fayum Desert (north of Lake Qarun) found and excavated by Gertrud Caton-Thompson in the 1920's:
She examined more than 60 shallow pits, lined with basketry and covered with a lid of cemented sand, and found them to contain grains as well as occasional other artifacts:


Objective of visit:
  To establish the current condition of the granaries and estimate what additional work can be done in the area.
Date of visit:
  - November/December 2004
- November/December 2005
Fellow visitors:
  A multinational team of archaeologists and geologists, directed by Willeke Wendrich (UCLA) and René Cappers (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen).
The wide environs of the K-pits were found to be under development for agriculture and the site itself appeared to have been cut by a large irrigation canal. The preserved granaries were exposed and mapped again during which a number of previously unknown pits were discovered and examined. Some appeared to be areas in which the material to construct the lids was prepared, some were granaries like those described by Caton-Thompson. Others are not yet excavated due to lack of time. Finds included part of a basket and a large shell, both probably used as scoops. At the end of the season the eastern part of the site could be fenced in and protected from further disturbances. The western part, in which most of the new discoveries were made, remains at risk and will be first priority during future field seasons. Some of the results have been published in W.Z. Wendrich and R.C. Cappers (2005), 'Egypt's Earliest Graneries. Evidence from the Fayum,' Egyptian Archaeology 27: pp. 12-15.
Approximate position and date of the site:   The K-pits are located on the northeast shore of Lake Qarun (in the Fayum Depression), between Kanaris and Kom W, in an area that is currently being developed for agriculture. The pits have previously been dated to the Epipaleolithic, or 4500 year BCE.
Short description of the site:   The Upper K granaries are located in the desert northeast of Lake Qarun, in the Fayum depression, considerably above the current water level in the lake. No structures are visible on the surface which consists of thin layer of wind-blown sand on top of a thick layer of hard, silty clay (probably deposited during the Tertiary). The pits, between 0.5 and 1.0 m. deep and wide, are sunk into this layer. Most are located on top of a low ridge. Their contents were covered with a layer of sand, rich in fossilized shells, below a lid of cemented sand, between 0.2 and 0.3 m. thick. The composition of these lids is still under investigation, but if they did not have become harder over time they must have been extremely difficult to open. The exact function of the granaries is still a matter of debate: they may have contained regular food stores, stores for emergency use or even the grain needed to sow in future seasons.
Additional remarks:
My work in Fayum would not have been possible without the support of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA.