Archive for the ‘Kharga’ Category

Excavations at Umm Mawagir in Kharga

September 8, 2010

A discovery in Kharga Oasis in the southern Western Desert is expected to shed light on the use of the oasis duirng the First Intermediate and Middle Kingdom periods. The city of Umm Mawagir was occupied throughout these periods but its heyday appears to have been the period between 1650 and 1550 BC when political disruption distrubed the Nile Valley population.  Invasions fo the Delta and southern Egypt confined Phraonic control to an area of Upper Egypt around Luxor.

Together with finds in Dakhleh Oasis the discovery of of Umm Mawagir indicates a much greater level Egyptian influence over the south-western desert at this time than had been previously proposed.

Most importantly the site gives an insight into an important aspect of Egypt’s economy, with particular reference to its trade networks.  John and Deborah Darnell have specialized in investigating the archaeology of  desert roads for more than a decade.  One of their key discoveries was the 100 mile Girga Road which extends from Luxor to Kharga and was clearly a major route, with a number of outposts to provide food and water for people travelling between the two hubs.  The road confirmed that the ancient Egyptians had the ability to provision for this sort of expedition during the Middle Kingdom.

The most important discovery, to date, announced only recently was the bakery that gives Umm Mawagir (which means Mother of Bread Moulds) its name.  As well as nearly half a ton of broken sherds from ceramic baking moulds, two baking ovens were found together with husking and grinding equipment.  Production was clearly on an industrial scale and it si likelty that it was produced to supply the military.

Some ceramics were made of Nubian clays, others on local materials.  Cooking pots associated with teh Medjay, an elite military unit, were discarded at the site and may point to a Medjay presence in Kharga.

Less than half of the 218 acre has has been excavated to date.

See the Yale Alumni Magazine for more on this story, and more about the work of the Darnell with Yale on the Yale Egyptological Institute website.

The Persian presence at Qasr el-Ghuieta, Egypt

March 17, 2010

I found this paper on the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies website whilst looking for something else entirely, in case it is of interest to visitors:

The Persian presence at Qasr el-Ghuieta, Egypt
By Eugene Cruz-Uribe
Northern Arizona University

The author puts the temple into its general historical context.  Looking at dating the temple he is able to present a convincing argument that it was built as part of the Darius I presence in Kharga Oasis, using earlier Saite centres to develop trade routes.   Based on comparison with Hibis he suggests that the earliest parts of the temple date to the Saite period.  The Temple of Hibis in Kharga is often described as the only Persian temple in the oases, so this potentially adds a new dimension to discussions about the Persian presence.

The temple is clearly described and the article is accompanied by photographs.

New book: Hibis Temple Project (Kharga oasis)

September 1, 2008

Thanks very much to Eugene Cruz-Uribe for letting me know of his recent publication Hibis Temple Project Vol III, The Graffiti from the Temple Precinct (San Antonio: Van Sicklen, 2008), which deals with the various pictoral and figurative graffiti found in the temple. He says that he includes a substantive chapter on the nature of graffiti in ancient Egypt arguing that rock art and textual graffiti should not be studied separately but together (Chapter 2 of the book).
In 2006 Cruz-Uribe awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and research at Egypt’s South Valley University for the 2006-07 academic year, where he was able to explore Egyptian graffiti.

More of Eugene Cruz-Uribes writing on graffiti can be found on the UCL Encyclopedia on the Graffiti (figural) page (Full citation: Cruz-Uribe, Eugene 2008, Graffiti (Figural). In Willeke Wendrich (ed.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles.