Geophysical Assessment and Mitigation of Degraded Archaeological Sites in Luxor Egypt

  • Ahmed IsmailEmail author
Part of the Natural Science in Archaeology book series (ARCHAEOLOGY)


This study demonstrates the use of geophysics in the field of archaeology not for archaeological exploration but for site assessment and mitigation of degraded archaeological sites because of rough environmental or cultural hazards. Accelerated deterioration of the stone foundations of many temples and monuments at Luxor, Egypt has been documented and is causing global concern for their long-term safety and serviceability. These stone foundations appear to be degrading due to the rise in level and increase in salinity of groundwater. Groundwater transported into the stone foundations by capillary rise through the underlying soil is thought to cause a loss of cohesion and rigidity of these foundations. Moreover, the capillary waters deliver salts into the stone foundations. Pressure developed during crystallization and hydration of these salts exfoliates the outer layers of the stone foundations, allowing them to be easily eroded by wind and other physical processes. The rise in level and increase in salinity of groundwater is thought to be the main problem behind the antiques degradation scenario. We conducted integrated geophysical survey in the form of resistivity and seismic refraction and collected surface water samples for chemical analysis in order to determine the reasons of rise in level and increase in salinity of groundwater. The results showed groundwater is flowing from the east toward the temples area and the groundwater salinity is increasing in the direction of groundwater flow. Our proposed solution is to interrupt or reverse the groundwater flow to stop rise in level and increase in salinity of groundwater.


Geophysics Archaeology Stone foundation Luxor Deterioration Mitigation 


  1. Baines J, Malek J (1980) Cultural atlas of ancient Egypt. Andromeda Oxford, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Behlen A, Steiger M, Dannecker W (1997) Quantification of the salt input by wet and dry deposition on a vertical masonry. In: Moropoulou A (ed) Fourth international symposium on the conservation of monuments in the Mediterranean Basin. Technical Chamber of Greece, Rhodes, pp 237–246Google Scholar
  3. Charola AE, Herodotus (2000) Salts in the deterioration of porous materials: an overview. J Am Inst Conserv 39(3): Article 2, 327–343Google Scholar
  4. El Hosary MM (1994) Hydrogeological and hydrochemical studies on Luxor area, Southern Egypt. MSc thesis. Ain Shams University, Cairo, EgyptGoogle Scholar
  5. Kamil J (1989) Luxor: a guide to ancient Thebes, 3rd edn. Longman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Sauck WA (1990) Modification of the SCHLINV Program. Internal report. Institute for Water Sciences, Western Michigan University, KalamazooGoogle Scholar
  7. Sevi A (2002) Geotechnical investigation of sandstone degradation of antiquities in Luxor, Egypt. MSc thesis. University of Missouri-Rolla, RollaGoogle Scholar
  8. Sowers GB, Sowers GF (1970) Introductory soil mechanics and foundations. Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Strudwick N, Strudwick H (1999) A guide to the ancient tombs and temples of ancient Luxor, Thebes in Egypt. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  10. Zohdy AAR, Bisdorf RJ (1989) Programs for the automatic processing and interpretation of Schlumberger sounding curves in QuickBASIC 4.0. U.S. Geological Survey, open-file report, 89-137 A and BGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boone Pickens School of GeologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

Personalised recommendations