Welcome to The Borderscape Project website


The Borderscape Project is a multidisciplinary endeavor that investigates how the rise of the Egyptian state at the end of the 4th millennium BCE impacted and transformed the socio-spatial landscape of the First Nile Cataract region. The process of state formation instigated profound changes in the socio-economic structure of ancient Egypt, the earliest territorial polity in human history, particularly at the newly established southern border.

Instead of reifying the unification of the Pharaonic state as a dividing event between periods “before” and “after”, The Borderscape Project seeks to evaluate this process along a historical continuum aided by a wide variety of archaeological and geospatial data. The project has three goals: first, it seeks to reconstruct the ancient settlement landscape and understand patterns of growth, development, and abandonment; second, it seeks to understand how the natural landscape was used for economic, religious, and ritualistic purposes through reconstructing ancient patterns of land use, identifying connections and pathways between sites, and detecting moments of change or discontinuity; finally, the project will investigate the social landscape of the region, using archaeological data to identify how group identity or ethnicity was displayed both in Elephantine and the hinterlands of the First Cataract region. The Borderscape Project will evaluate how the Dynastic state dealt with the fluid identities and mobility of the populations in its borderlands compared to the earlier predynastic Period, and develop a new theoretical model for how this earliest example of a borderscape was shaped by rising centralized power. In the coming years, The Borderscape Project aims to produce a monograph and multiple peer-reviewed articles for a scholastic audience, and an interactive WebGIS module to showcase its findings to the general public.

The Borderscape Project is led by Primary Investigator Dr. Maria Gatto, and assisted by postdoctoral researcher and digital specialist Dr. Oren Siegel. The project is based at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (http://iksiopan.pl/index.php/en/), and our work is funded by the Norway Grants Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 (https://eeagrants.org/) through the Polish National Science Centre (https://www.ncn.gov.pl/?language=en)-POLS Call (2020/37/K/HS3/04097).

The Borderscape Project relies on the research, survey, and excavation data furnished by the Aswan-Kom Ombo Archaeological Project (co-directed by Maria Gatto and Antonio Curci). We are proud to collaborate with many of the wonderful researchers affiliated with this project.

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Dr. Maria Gatto is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences, where she directs the BORDERSCAPE Project. Previously she held research and teaching positions in Egyptology and Archaeology at the University of Leicester, University of Birmingham, Yale University and at the British Museum. In recent years, Maria has been a Visiting Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, a Visiting Professor of Archaeology at the University of Bologna, and a Guest Lecturer in Prehistory at the Sapienza University of Rome. Since 2017, she is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History of the University of Leicester. Maria’s research explores processes of interregional interaction, cultural contact, human-environment interaction, and socio-political dynamics in the Nile Valley and the Sahara. She has worked extensively in North Africa and since 2005 she is the PI and co-director of the Aswan-Kom Ombo Archaeological Project in Egypt.

Dr. Oren Siegel received his PhD in Egyptian Archaeology from the University of Chicago in Spring 2020. His research interests include Pharaonic and Nubian boundary making practices and monumental architecture—with a particular focus on how social power was articulated through the manipulation of the built environment. He has participated in archaeological fieldwork at Tell Edfu, Dendara, and Uronarti, and worked from 2016-2021 as a GIS analyst at the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes as part of the Afghan Heritage Mapping Partnership.


Check out this page for the latest updates on the Borderscape Project!

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Check this page for links to some of the publications and reports produced by the Borderscape Project.