Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 176, Issue 4, pp 1639–1647 | Cite as

Application of Gamma-ray Spectrometry in Discovering the Granitic Monument of King Pepi I: A Case Study from Hierakonpolis, Aswan, Egypt

  • Akram AzizEmail author
  • Tamer Attia
  • Liam McNamara
  • Renee Friedman


The current survey aimed to relocate the so-called granitic ‘stela’ inscribed for King Pepi I. The monument was originally discovered in 1897–1898 by British Egyptologists excavating on an ancient mound located in the floodplain at the archaeological site of Hierakonpolis (modern Kom el-Ahmar) in the Aswan Governorate of Egypt. The original excavators were unable to remove it owing to its great weight and the monument was therefore left at the site. It remained partly exposed until 1989, when it was reburied to provide some protection from seasonal fluctuations in the water table. The exact location of the ‘stela’ was then lost, as the site is situated in the centre of the modern village of Kom el-Gemuwia and is covered with halfa grass and other debris. As part of a new project to conserve and record this historic monument and other stone relics on this water-logged site by the Hierakonpolis Expedition of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK, a geophysical approach was used to establish their current locations. A detailed gamma-ray spectrometry survey was conducted across the area suggested by the archeologists. The measurements were analyzed and plotted in the form of maps, which were helpful in selecting certain locations for examination. The results of limited field excavations confirmed that the localized high-thorium-concentration anomalies were mainly related to the presence of the buried granite block. These results suggest that this method could be useful in the detection of granitic monuments at similar sites.


Gamma-ray spectrometry radioactive dose rate principle component analysis granitic monuments King Pepi I 



We are grateful to the Minister of State for Antiquities, Dr Khaled el-Anany, and the members of the Permanent Committee of the Supreme Council for Antiquities for permission to undertake work at Hierakonpolis. Thanks are also extended to the PSU Center of Environmental Studies and Consultancies. We are very grateful to Mr. Mahmoud Ismail for his valuable help and effort during the field surveys. The assistance of the Edfu Inspectorate of Antiquities is also gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geology Department, Faculty of SciencePort Said UniversityPort SaidEgypt
  2. 2.Ashmolean MuseumUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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