Western Desert

Bahariya El-Hayz, El-Qasr, Qasr el-Migysbah, Valley of the Golden Mummies, Bawiti, Qasr Muharib, Alexander the great temple

Kharga Oasis Dush, Qasr el-Zayyan, Qasr el-Ghueita, Temple of Nadura, Hibis, El-Bagawat, El-Deir, Qasr el-Sumeria, Qasr el-Geb, Qasr el Labekha, Ain Umm el-Dabadib Kharga Museum

Dakhla Oasis Tineida, Ezbet Bashendi, Balat, Qila el-Dab’a, Ismant el-Kharab, Mut el-Kharab Qasr Dakhla, Amheida, El-Muzzawaka tombs, Deir el-Hagar

Farafra Oasis Overview and history of Farafra Oasis

Introduction to Bahariya Oasis

   Bahariya, known since ancient times as the ‘Northern Oasis’ is situated in a depression about 100km long by 40km wide and completely surrounded by high black escarpments. The valley floor is   covered with lush groves of date palms, ancient springs and wells and is strewn with numerous conical hills which probably once formed islands in a great lake during Prehistoric times. Improved roads and the advent of the 4x4 vehicle has meant that Bahariya is no longer   an isolated oasis, but merely a few hours drive from Cairo - in fact many tourists today will go there on a one or two a day trip.

Bahariya was an important centre of agriculture and wine production and a source of minerals since Pharaonic times. Unfortunately few of the sites from this period have been excavated and what little is

   known of Bahariya’s early history is documented in tomb paintings in the Nile Valley, mostly from the Middle Kingdom and early New Kingdom onwards. A scene in the tomb of the Vizier Rekhmire at Thebes from Dynasty XVIII, shows people of the ‘Northern Oasis’ wearing striped kilts and presenting tribute. The oasis began to

  flourish during Libyan rule of Egypt in the Third Intermediate Period as a main route from the Libyan border to the Nile Valley and a strategic crossing of several caravan routes to other oases. By Dynasty XXVI Bahariya had its own native governors and had grown  into an important centre of trade. Near Bawiti is the tomb of a Dynasty XIX provincial governor Amenhotep Huy and several tombs of Dynasty XXVI governors of the region, as well as an ibis cemetery from the same period. There are also two temples, one dating to King Apries of Dynasty XXVI and the other to the reign of the Greek ruler Alexander the Great. Until Recently the little knowledge we have had of the Romans in Bahariya came mostly from a large quantity of Roman Papyri found at Oxyrhynchus (el-Bahnasa), which tell us that the oasis was garrisoned by Roman troops taken from the larger station there. The presence of many Roman ruins and an elaborate system of aqueducts suggests that Bahariya was heavily populated during this period.

 In March 1996 a guard riding his donkey from the Temple of Alexander stumbled into a hole in the sand which proved to be a tomb. This began an excavation which has subsequently led to the astonishing discovery of a vast necropolis containing possibly as many as 10,000well-preserved mummies of Graeco-Roman date, some wearing

spectacular golden facemasks. Bahariya, long considered to be a backwater in Egyptian history, has now become one of the most  important archaeological sites in Egypt and famous all over the world for its ‘Valley of the Golden Mummies’The people of Bahariya seem to have clung to their traditional beliefs longer than in any of the other oases. After the Roman decline Bahariya had a strong Christian population and even had its own bishop, although there is a suggestion by archaeologists that there may still have been followers of the more ancient pagan cults

during this time. Even though Islam was brought to the oasis as early as the 7th century, Christianity remained strong in Bahariya longer than in any of the other oases, right up to the 17th century, and no monuments from the lslamic Period have yet been found The inhabitants of Bahariya are a mixture of the original oasis dwellers, the Bedouin tribes of the Western Desert, and families who have migrated from Middle Egypt and the Nile Valley. The fortunes of the oasis have changed throughout history - in times of decline and poverty many of the population migrated to more wealthy regions especially Cairo, in search of work and by 1958 when the government, plans for the ‘New Valley’ were introduced there were only around 6000 inhabitants in Bahariya. Then the development of the desert began - many migrants returned to the oasis in the belief that conditions would improve and a rosy future was in store, and although these dreams were not instantly realised, there are now almost 30,000 people living in Bahariya Oasis. Revitalisation here was slow compared to Kharga and Dakhla, but since the road from

Cairo was first paved in 1967 and the mineral mines at Managim were developed, together with the modern paved road connecting the oasis with Farafra, conditions began to improve. Today the new archaeological discoveries, resulting in a growing tourist industry, has provided the icing on the cake of Bahariya’s fortunes.

When the Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry first visited Bahariya in 1938, the journey took two or three days by car from Cairo. There were then four principal villages in the oasis - the twin villagesof Bawiti and el-Qasr and at 8km east, Mandishah and el-Zabw. Today Bawiti is a modern administrative town and has swallowed up the older sections of the twin villages, which are slowly being  abandoned and falling into ruin. There are many ancient monuments springs and gardens close to the town to entice tourists and for this reason several hotels have been built in recent years. Because of increasing media attention, many of Bahariya’s sites are currently under excavation by the Supreme Council of Antiquities and consequently most of the sites are officially closed. The visitor must request permission from the local antiquities authorities before going to view the sites. The sites open will vary from time to time. In November 2003 tickets were available to visit the gilded mummies, the Tomb of Bannentiu, Ain el-Muftillah and Qasr el-Migysbah. These cost EGP 30 for the four sites, but photography  was not permitted in the tombs or shrines If travelling north from Farafra to Bahariya, it is worth stopping   at Gebel el-Izaz, or 'Crystal Mountain', about 25km before reaching the escarpment on the modern road down into Bahariya Oasis. This  small mountain is formed with a large proportion of quartz crystal, and gives a wonderful view over the desert from the top. One of the nearby rocks has a hole in the centre and there are lots of small pieces of crystal strewn around.

El-Hayz El-Hayz is a sparsely-populated region which is made up of several small hamlets about 40km south-west of Bawiti in Bahariya Oasis Perhaps the ‘Fourth Oasis’ of the seven mentioned at Edfu Temp le, it lies on the main ancient caravan route between Farafra and Bahariya and judging by the ruins must have been an important and prosperous agricultural and trading community during Roman times. The region of el-Hayz contains at least four important springs, Ain el-Izzah, Ain el-Sheikh, Tabla-Amun and Ain el-Ris, near where most of the ancient sites are located. The Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry conducted the first scientific investigations into the history of the area during the 1930s and 1940s, when he partly excavated several sites around Ain el-Ris but still comparatively little is known of the early history of the region. Numerous artefacts, mainly flint fragments and blades, have been found from the Neolithic and Lithic Periods and there are sites now identified in the area which may have been prehistoric settlements or flint workshops, but so far very little evidence of activity has been

found from the Pharaonic Period.  In the west of the el-Hayz region, towards the gebel, is the small village of Ain el-Izzah. About 2km north-east of the spring there is an ancient settlement, now badly preserved, but with many pottery sherds covering the surface of the ground. To the north-west of the village rock-tombs were cut into a ridge, where several fragments of mummies and pieces of their pottery coffins were found scattered around. The most interesting remains here are the shafts of Roman aqueducts, similar to those found in other parts of the Western Desert. Ain el-Ris, where the most interesting ruins of el-Hayz are situated, lies about 2km south-east of the main road. A largesettlement existed here in Roman times, judging by the distances between the main sites. At the northern end of the settlement is the only well-preserved early Christian church in the Western Desert

though it has much deteriorated since its paintings were described by Belzoni and Cailliaud in the early 19th century and even since Fakhry wrote about it in the 1930s. The church is a basilica type, constructed in two stories of mudbrick and was probably dedicated to St George, suggested by descriptions of a man riding a horse in the

paintings, he was a popular saint in the oases. The roof and the fresco paintings have now vanished, as has the upper floor, but its plan is easy to follow and there are still a few remains of decorations incised into the remaining plastered walls. Fakhry suggested that the date of the church was no later than the 5th to6th century. Not far from the Church of St George, Fakhry excavated several small mounds under which he discovered remains of a large mansion orpalace in 1938. The walls at the time were still coated with a white plaster and decorated with geometric designs. Further excavatio ns between 1939 and 1945 revealed several more structures, suggesting

that el-Hayz was heavily populated by a wealthy community in Roman times. About half a kilometre south of the church are the remaining walls of an irregularly shaped Roman camp, which was probably an

outpost of the larger military structure at Qasr Masuda, 2km further south. Qasr Masuda is an imposing multi-storied fortress about 18m square, containing thirteen rooms with a well in its open court, built on a rocky knoll above the desert floor  During the 1990s the Ain el-Ris area was partly excavated by the local Inspectorate of Antiquities at Bawiti, who uncovered the remains of the ‘palace’ investigated by Fakhry, which was perhaps

the residence of the fortress commander. They also excavated a wine cellar and some of the extensive surrounding cemeteries. The Czech Institute of Egyptology at Charles University, Prague, are currently undertaking a survey of the el-Hayz area. Their first season (2003) has been very productive in locating a great many

Prehistoric and Roman remains scattered throughout the seven main settlement areas under investigation

El-Qasr The capital town of Bahariya in ancient times was located in the area which today is known as el-Qasr on the north-eastern side of Bawiti. The ancient name for the town was Psobthis and it spread around a temple whose one large remaining stone wall can still be seen, though numerous other ancient monuments probably still lie buried beneath the village. The earliest evidence of the Pharaonic Period found so far in Bahariya is at Qarat el-Hilwa, where a group of tombs are cut into a sandstone ridge, about 3km south of el-Qasr, which may have been the cemetery of the ancient capital. The oldest tomb and the only decorated one belongs to Amenhotep, ‘Governor of the Northern Oasis’ during late Dynasty XVIII or early Dynasty XIX and this is the only evidence in Bahariya from the New Kingdom. The tomb of Amenhotep consists of a forecourt which was decorated with scenes of the tomb-owner conducting his duties as a native governor, with his wife Ourly and son Menna. Two more chambers include traditional funerary scenes similar to those seen in Theban tombs from the period. Since

Ahmed Fakhry recorded the tomb in 1938 (badly damaged even at that time) many of the wall scenes have suffered from the effects of weather and neglect - some have completely disappeared and the roof has also gone. Many reliefs can still be seen, however, in blocks crudely rebuilt and consolidated with mortar, but it is in urgent

need of proper restoration. In the town of el-Qasr, a stone chapel inscribed for King Apries of Dynasty XXVI was built by two governors of the oasis named in the inscriptions, Wahibrenefer and Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh. An alabaster

statue of the latter individual was discovered in the streets of el-Qasr in 1900 and is now in the Cairo Museum. King Apries’ name is inscribed on the wall of the chapel with a dedication text to Amun-Re ‘Lord of the Great Hill’ (an unusual title for the god, seen only in this oasis) and Khons. The third member of the Theban Triad, Mut, does not seem to be mentioned here. Also in the centre of el-Qasr are the remains of a mud-brick, probably Late Period, temple which was found by local residents in 1988 and recently investigated by the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation. Although uninscribed, it is identified as having been dedicated to the dwarf-god Bes, from the artefacts found there. One of the objects unearthed there is a well-preserved freestanding limestone statue of Bes, 1.37m high, which has been a focal point of the Cairo Museum’s Centenary Exhibition.

 The ancient town of Psobthis extended from the area around the  temple in el-Qasr to the spring of Ain el-Muftillah, about 3km to  the west. The spring was probably the old capital’s main  water-source but now this area of the site is part of the desert and  enclosed within a fence, although fragments of houses and a  scattering of pottery sherds can still be seen. Near here,   Steindorff uncovered the wall of a chapel in 1901, also bearing the         name of King Amasis, which was excavated in 1938-39 by Ahmed Fakhry.

 A short distance away Fakhry found three more chapels, with parts of walls covered in religious scenes and representations of several   deities. All of the chapels were decorated and date to Dynasty XXVI.  One of them (chapel 3) was built by Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh and was   undoubtedly dedicated to a cult of Bes, whose temples are very rare.  The style of reliefs in chapel 1 are similar to the shrines of the  divine adoratrices at Medinet Habu at Thebes, while chapel 2 was  dedicated to Osiris with some unusual cult standards. Excavations by the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation in 1977 showed that the four  separate chapels excavated by Fakhry were actually part of a  substantial temple structure which contained an early example of a  pronaos. The temple was built during the reign of Amasis by the governors Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh and his brother Shebenkhonsu. The chapels are now Conserved under a wooden ceiling and a mound of sand for protection.  In Roman times the Triumphal Arch must have looked magnificent  resting on its platform and towering high above the plain to greet  travellers to the oasis. Cailliaud drew and described it in 1820 when it was still in a good state of preservation, its façades  ornamented with pilasters, it was by far the most imposing ruin in el-Qasr. Sadly, today the arch is mostly destroyed, many of its  stones re-used in nearby buildings. What remains there are can be  seen in situ, on the left hand side of a lane which runs down from the ruined part of the old town, tucked into one of the gardens  behind a fence with an iron door. The platform still stands almost 10m high, but the arches and columns have now collapsed into ruins.

Nothing is known of the builder of the Arch of Triumph, but it is presumed Roman on architectural grounds and was probably part of the  larger Roman fortress from which el-Qasr takes its name.

Bawiti, There are numerous ancient sites around the town of Bawiti, the principal town of the oasis. Since Bahariya's fame which came with the discovery of the 'Valley of the Golden Mummies' some of the  other monuments are now beginning to open up to visitors. At the Antiquities Department in Bawiti, visitors can buy one ticket which  gives access to most of the open sites, with the exception of the  'Golden Mummies' tombs. Behind the Antiquities Department a small museum housed in a former warehouse contains five of the gilded             Graeco-Roman mummies preserved in glass cases, as well as a small  collection of other artefacts found in the oasis. Among the ancient ruins still visible in the streets of Bawiti is an impressive system of aqueducts (called manafis) which runs for almost 3km through the town to gardens and a spring called Ain el-Hubaga. The spring and the aqueducts, which would have supplied water to the town in ancient times for use in the cultivation of             crops, were still in use until the 20th century. It is usually assumed that the aqueducts are Roman in origin, but Ahmed Fakhry believed them to date back at least as far as Dynasty XXVI and were probably extended during the Roman occupation. Many of the ventilation shafts can be seen amongst the houses at Ain el-Hubaga.

 A little to the north of Ain el-Hubaga on a ridge is Qarat Qasr Salim, where during his excavations in 1938, Fakhry discovered four tombs dating to Dynasty XXVI, two of which were well preserved and decorated. The first of the two inscribed tombs belonged to Djedamun-ef-ankh, an apparently wealthy landowner or merchant of Bahariya and though he held no priestly or political titles he was able to commission a large and elaborate tomb, complete with unusual (for Bahariya) round pillars, several painted false doors and extensive religious scenes. Djedamun-ef-ankh is depicted offering to the gods in his burial chamber and the ceiling is painted with representations of the goddess Nekhbet as a vulture in a starry sky. The tombs are reached via an iron ladder down a deep shaft. The second tomb belonged to Djedamun-ef-ankh's son, also a powerful businessman whose name was Bannentiu. This tomb is even larger and more ornately decorated than the first, having a square-pillared hall and three side-Chambers. The tomb has recently been consolidated and restored by the Supreme Council of Antiquities and   is stunningly painted in vibrant reds and ochres - the brilliant earth-tones of the oasis. While Horus and Thoth guard the entrance to the burial chamber, the deceased is shown on the plastered walls before a leopard-skin clad Iunmutef priest and an array of gods, including Amun-Re, Horus, Anubis, Wepwawet, Nefertum Re-Horakhty,  Khons and others. Both of these tombs had been plundered in antiquity and re-used for collective burials during the Roman Period. They are historically important in that they show that pious nobility of the oasis during the Late Period, if they were wealthy enough, were able to construct elaborate burial places with scenes previously reserved for more lofty individuals. Unfortunately the decoration in Bannentiu's tomb was damaged some years ago when thieves hacked away some of the reliefs. The culprit was caught and the blocks recovered and taken to Cairo Museum, but they have not yet been restored in the tomb.In 1947, Ahmed Fakhry uncovered three Dynasty XXVI tombs in another  ridge nearby at Qarat el-Subi, whose entrances were subsequently hidden by new buildings on the edge of Bawiti. However, in 1999 the Supreme Council of Antiquities rediscovered the tombs after being alerted to the possibility of locals digging for artefacts in the residential area. After beginning excavations the archaeologists located Fakhry's three tombs, belonging to Ped'ashtar, a high Priest of Khons and priest of Horus, his grandson Thaty and Thaty's wife Ta-Nefert-Bastet, who can be seen on reliefs wearing an unusual long white fringed robe in the Libyan style. These tombs had also been robbed and re-used during Roman times. Fakhry knew that the tomb of Bahariya's famous governor Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh was nearby, he had found traces of the chapel's walls beneath one of the Bawiti houses but was unable to excavate it at the time. In April 2000 the SCA, under the direction of Dr Zahi Hawass, finally discovered the tomb of Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh, which contains beautiful painted decorations  more usually seen in the tombs of the New Kingdom. The burial chamber was found to contain the large limestone sarcophagus of the deceased, an alabaster coffin and the damaged mummy of Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh himself still inside a third coffin. Six gold amulets representing various deities were found on the body. Archaeologists are still investigating this area in the hope that the burials of other members of Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh's family may yet be found. During excavations in 2002 to 2003 Dr Hawass found the             remains of a house of a governor of the oasis near to these tombs. On the southern edge of Bawiti is an area known locally as Qarat el-Faragi, or the 'Hill of the Chicken Merchant', because of the large number mummified birds found there. The galleries of sacred ibis and falcon burials which are contained in the ridge of Qarat el-Faragi actually now lie under the modern cemetery and are not open to the public. Dating from the Late Period to Graeco-Roman times, mummified bird burials were common in Egypt as a way of offering to or petitioning the gods and are often found in extensive warrens of tunnels stretching far underground. Qarat el-Faragi is no exception and here Fakhry found a central gallery with many other galleries branching off, each having recesses in the walls for stacking the jars which contained the mummified birds. He also found inscribed graffiti representing deities on the walls and many votive objects associated with the burials. Another recent excavation near Bawiti has begun to uncover what is thought to be a Temple dedicated to the Roman god Hercules (Egyptian Herishef), believed to have been constructed or at least decorated during the first century BC, in the name of the Emperor Octavian Augustus. Several images of other Egyptian and Roman deities were also found in the ruins in the form of statuettes and stelae, with inscriptions in demotic and hieratic script as well as Greek. Although the temple is now almost completely destroyed, there are sufficient remains to determine the layout of the structure, which contained three chapels in its sanctuary. In early 2002, three new tombs were found in a local house in Bawiti and subsequently excavated by the Supreme Council of Antiquities who also discovered a temple of Amun-Re for which the SCA had been searching for fifteen years. The mission discovered the walls and columns of the temple on which hieroglyphic inscriptions to Amun-Re were found.Many more sites around Bawiti are awaiting excavation and there is no doubt that there is a great deal in this area yet to be discovered in the years to come.

Valley of the Golden Mummies  The oasis of Bahariya has become famous in recent years for the astonishing iscovery of a Roman Period necropolis now known to the  world as the Valley of the Golden Mummies. Although the news was  only released to the press in 1999, the discovery took place early in 1996 when antiquities inspector Ashry Shaker announced to Dr Zahi Hawass "We have found beautiful mummies . . ." and perhaps these  words wiill be immortalised in the history books in the same way that other famous accidental discoveries of Egyptology have been. The  2000-year-old cemetery was found when the donkey of an antiquities  guard stumbled into a hole at the side of the road about 6km south  of Bawiti, near the ruined Temple of Alexander. Further   investigations revealed what could be the most spectacular discovery  since Howard Carter opened the tomb of Tutankhamun.

The first season of excavations in Bahariya started in 1999, by an Egyptian team under the direction of Dr Zahi Hawass, when a total of  108 mummies were found in four tombs in the first part of the  necropolis to be investigated. Dr Hawass has stated that, "When the first tomb was opened, the brilliance of gold shone in the sunlight  among the piles of sand". The cemetery, which is thought to cover an area around 6km square, has been estimated by Dr Hawass to contain more than 10,000 mummies. The Roman population of Bahariya were laid

in rows in multi-chambered family tombs, left undisturbed by robbers, their burials still intact. Some of the mummies were encased in gilded or painted coffins, some wore golden masks and jewelry and were surrounded by their burial goods of wine jars, coins, pottery and amulets for use in the afterlife. The second season's excavations (in 2000) revealed another seven  tombs and 103 mummies. As well as the beautifully decorated masks  and coffins, wooden panels or stelae were found, some in the shape of a temple and decorated with depictions of Osiris, Anubis and Horus, traditional funerary deities. In the 2001 season a further three tombs were uncovered, containing 22 mummies, bringing the   total to 233 burials. The richest burial so far was discovered in Tomb 54, in which the mummy wore a golden mask with a uraeus, the spitting cobra, a symbol of royalty, which Dr Hawass suggests, probably indicates the desire of the deceased to have a kingly transfiguration in the afterlife. There are generally four different styles of mummies found in the necropolis. The first, for which the Valley of the Golden Mummies was named, are those with a gilded face mask and a gilded chest-covering decorated with deities. The second type of burial are those in cartonnage coffins brightly painted with Egyptian funerary scenes, while in the third type, the bodies were placed inside an undecorated anthropoid pottery coffin. The fourth style of mummies

are unique in that they were entirely covered in simple linen wrappings, more reminiscent of New Kingdom burials. One of the most interesting discoveries from Bahariya is that reeds or sticks were placed along either side of the bodies during this period, before wrapping in linen, making the finished mummy very strong and explaining their well-preserved condition.

 The tombs themselves are unusual because they contain a large number of burials. The bodies were placed in niches - sometimes a man and wife and perhaps their children too would lie side by side in death heads towards the inside of the niche. Each tomb has a distinctive architectural style, just as each mummy is differently decorated. Some of the tombs consist of several rooms, sometimes with ritual functions, and most have multiple burial chambers. One of the early tombs excavated was reminiscent of the Graeco-Roman catacombs at Kom

el-Shuqafa in Alexandria. Another had a large shaft with niches cut into the walls for burials. All of the tombs are undecorated ,The mummies found so far in Bahariya are already revealing a great deal of information about the lives of the citizens of the oasis during the Roman Period, increasing our knowledge of mummification techniques and religious beliefs at that time as well as providing a valuable insight into Bahariya's Roman history

. It appears that the population lived lives affluent enough for many of its members to be able to afford extravagant burials. While six of the mummies have been taken from their tombs so that the world can see examples of what the necropolis contains, Dr Hawass believes that the rest should remain in their chosen burial place. Archaeologists and conservators are now working towards preserving the mummies in situ and restoring the tombs with new ceilings. Their aim is to carry on excavating for one season each year - a task which could continue for another fifty years.

Qasr el-Migysbah A few kilometres north-east of el-Qasr, in the area known as el-Tibbaniya where the ancient caravan route from Bahariya to Siwa begins, are the ruins of a temple complex first excavated by Ahmed Fakhry between 1939 and 1942. This is the only known temple in the whole of the Western Desert to be built in the name of the Greek conqueror Alexander ‘The Great’, whose images and cartouches Fakhry found on the monument

The main part of the temple consists of only two sandstone chambers in the northern part of an enclosure, which was surrounded by a mudbrick temenos wall. Both the temple and a stone gate in the enclosure wall face south. When Fakhry excavated here he reported that the partially preserved walls of the temple showed many

undamaged inscriptions and reliefs depicting Alexander in the presence of Amun-Re and other deities. The temple is thought to have been dedicated to Amun and Horus. Fakhry found an inscribed red granite altar in front of the temple which also bore the name of Alexander (now in Cairo Museum) and a small statue of a priest of Re

in the second chamber. Sadly, the inscriptions have suffered a great deal of deterioration since Fakhry’s excavations, the cartouches are unreadable and many of the reliefs have now vanished due to the effects of years of wind-blown sand Surrounding the temple within the enclosure are at least 45 mudbrick dwellings and store-rooms, where the priests and administrative staff would have lived and worked. A great deal of broken pottery,   coins and other small artefacts were found scattered about the area, including a number of Greek and Coptic ostraca. This suggested to Fakhry that the site had been inhabited at intervals from the time of Alexander through to the 12th century AD. The Supreme Council of Antiquities under the direction of Dr Zahi Hawass re-excavated the site in 1993-94 uncovering several chambers which had never been cleared, but there could still be much more awaiting investigation. Attempts have recently been made to consolidate the blocks of the temple, but a complete restoration is urgently needed if the erosion  to the structure is to be halted. This is probably an important site - perhaps constructed to commemorate Alexander’s visit to Siwa Oasis to consult the oracle at the Temple of Amun at Aghurmi. Did the conqueror pass this way during his journey back to the north coast?

Perhaps we will never know, but the close proximity of the famous Valley of the Golden Mummies’, the cemetery which begins only a few  hundred metres away, may indicate the importance of the temple to the Graeco-Roman people who wished to be buried in the area.