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Soknopaiou Nesos Project

The Soknopaiou Nesos Project begun in 2001 with the first survey in Dime made by a Joint Expedition of Lecce and Bologna Universities. Lecce University has now obtained a new concession from the Supreme Council of Antiquities and achieved its first season in 2004. The Soknopaiou Nesos Project can be defined as a complex idea that developed in the years. At the beginning the only aim of the Joint Expedition was to document the site with modern topographical and archaeological techniques of survey. The archaeological area was surveyed in two seasons (2001 and 2002). A preliminary record of all the visible buildings was also done. Contemporary, other two different researches were begun, one relating the record and study of the Greek literary papyri coming from Soknopaiou Nesos and one on the bibliography and old images of the site. For this last research a great help came from the Kelsey Museum of Ann Arbor that provided us freely many photographs from its archive. The collection of the bibliography is still in progress and it will be a long task especially because of the great number of papyri published. In fact, we would like to realize in Lecce an archive on Soknopaiou Nesos both digital and on paper.

As is well known, Soknopaiou Nesos is one of the most important source of information on the Graeco-roman society thanks to its excellent state of preservation and not only for the past findings of papyri. Still it is a very rich source of information for different scientific matter. For this reason we started to imagine a more complex enterprise that can involve scholars and specialists in an interdisciplinary and wide study.

Many scholars, specially papyrologists and demotists, have worked or are working on projects relating to different aspects of the documentation from the site, as for example the recent excellent edition of the Louvre Papyri by Andrea Jördens; the prosopographia by Deborah Hobson and the University of Würzburg project on Demotic papyri and ostraka.

At present, the Lecce University Archaeological Expedition can offer the opportunity to all the scholars involved in any project on Soknopaiou Nesos to put the results of their researches into a context thanks to the new concession of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

We are firmly convinced that in a new era of interdisciplinary and contextual studies a wide and open collaboration is a necessity. If we could combine the data coming from the archaeological excavations of the temenos with those from the Geek and Demotic sources for example, we would reach a better and more complex view of the life, the religion and the architectonic history of the temple area. The exchange of data, experiences and competences is a must in a modern approach to a subject.

Some collaboration between the Mission and other scholars or institutions are already active: with AR/S Archeosistemi for the topographical survey; with prof. Martin Andreas Stadler, demotist University of Wurzburg, who studies new demotic documents found during the excavation campaigns; with dr. Sylvie Marchand, researcher at the IFAO Cairo, who led the study of ceramics from the survey of Dime area ; with prof. Mauro Cemaschi, University of Milan, who led the geo-archaeological survey of Dime area in collaboration with prof. Ashraf Moustafa, geologist at the University of Assiut (Egypt); with Giuseppe Scardozzi, researcher of ancient topography at IBAN-CNR, Lecce.