Dakhla Oasis

Dakhla Oasis (Egyptian Arabic: الداخلةEl Daḵla , pronounced [edˈdæxlæ]), translates to the inner oasis, is one of the seven oases of Egypt's Western Desert. Dakhla Oasis lies in the New Valley Governorate, 350 km (220 mi.) from the Nile and between the oases of Farafra and Kharga. It measures approximately 80 km (50 mi) from east to west and 25 km (16 mi) from north to south.[1]

Dakhla Oasis
Oasis
Dakhla Oasis, February 1988.
Dakhla Oasis, February 1988.
Nickname(s): 
Inner oasis
Dakhla Oasis is located in Egypt
Dakhla Oasis
Dakhla Oasis
Location in Egypt
Coordinates: 25°29′29.6″N 28°58′45.2″E / 25.491556°N 28.979222°E
CountryEgypt
GovernorateNew Valley Governorate
Area
 • Total2,000 km2 (800 sq mi)
 • Land1,500 km2 (600 sq mi)
Population
(2002)
 • Total75,000
 • Ethnicities
Egyptians
Ottomans (Qalamoun)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EST)
Capital'Ain Basil (Balat) (c. 2500 BCE-c. 1500 BCE)
Mut (c. 1500 BCE- )

History

Prehistory

The human history of this oasis started during the Pleistocene, when nomadic tribes settled sometimes there, in a time when the Sahara climate was wetter and where humans could have access to lakes and marshes. But about 6,000 years ago, the entire Sahara became drier, changing progressively into a hyper-arid desert (with less than 50 mm of rain per year). However, specialists think that nomadic hunter-gatherers began to settle almost permanently in the oasis of Dakhleh in the period of the Holocene (about 12,000 years ago), during new, but rare episodes of wetter times.

In fact, the drier climate didn't mean that there was more water than today in what is now known as the Western Desert. The south of the Libyan Desert has the most important supply of subterranean water in the world through the Nubian Aquifer, and the first inhabitants of the Dakhla Oasis had access to surface water sources. In the third millennium BC the probably nomadic people of the Sheikh Muftah culture lived here.

Pharaonic period

The first contacts between the pharaonic power and the oases started around 2550 BCE.

During the late 6th Dynasty, hieratic script was sometimes incised into clay tablets with a stylus, similar to cuneiform. About five hundred such tablets have been discovered in the governor's palace at Ayn Asil (Balat) in the Dakhla Oasis.[2][3] At the time the tablets were made, Dakhla was located far from centers of papyrus production.[4] These tablets record inventories, name-lists, accounts, and approximately fifty letters.

Islamic period

The fortified Islamic town of Al Qasr was built at Dakhla Oasis in the 12th century probably on the remains of a Roman era settlement by the Ayyubid kings of Egypt.[5]

After 1800

The first European traveller to find the Dakhla Oasis was Sir Archibald Edmonstone, in the year 1819.[1] He was succeeded by several other early travellers, but it was not until 1908 that the first egyptologist, Herbert Winlock, visited Dakhla Oasis and noted its monuments in some systematic manner.[1] In the 1950s, detailed studies began, first by Dr. Ahmed Fakhry, and in the late 1970s, an expedition of the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale and the Dakhla Oasis Project each began detailed studies in the oasis.[1]

Al-Qasr city (Dakhla Oasis)
Al-Qasr town at Dakhla Oasis

Geography

Dakhla Oasis consists of several communities, along a string of sub-oases. The main settlements are Mut (more fully Mut el-Kharab and anciently called Mothis), El-Masara, Al-Qasr, Qalamoun, together with several smaller villages. Some of the communities have identities that are separate from each other. Qalamoun has inhabitants that trace their origins to the Ottomans.

Climate

Dakhla Oasis has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh), typical of much of Egypt.

Dakhleh Oasis Project

The Dakhleh Oasis Project (DOP) is a long-term study project of the Dakhleh Oasis and the surrounding palaeoasis, initiated in 1978 when the Royal Ontario Museum and the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities were awarded a joint concession for part of the Oasis.[8] In 1979, the Centre for Archaeology and Ancient History at Monash University began to cooperate in the project.[1]

The DOP studies the interaction between environmental changes and human activity in the Dakhleh Oasis.[9] The director of the DOP is Anthony J. Mills, former curator at the Royal Ontario Museum. The excavations at Ismant el-Kharab (ancient Kellis),[10] Mut el-Kharab (ancient Mothis),[11] Deir Abu Metta and Muzawwaqa[12] are undertaken with the cooperation of Monash University, under the direction of Gillian E. Bowen. Bowen and Colin Hope, also of Monash, are the principal investigators at Ismant el-Kharab. The DOP has also excavated at 'Ain el-Gazzareen,[13] El Qasr el-Dakhil,[14] Deir el Hagar[15] and Ain Birbiyeh.[16]

As well as the Dakhleh Trust, formed in 1999 to raise money for the DOP, organizations which have supported or participated in the DOP include: the Royal Ontario Museum, the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, Monash University, the University of Durham, the University of Toronto, Columbia University, the American Research Centre in Egypt, the Egyptology Society of Victoria and New York University.

In addition, excavations are undertaken at Amheida under the direction of Roger S. Bagnall. These were originally conducted under the auspices of Columbia University, but are currently conducted for New York University.[17]

Excavations are also underway at Balat under the auspices of the IFAO under the direction of Georges Soukiassian in conjunction with the Ministry for State Antiquities.[18]

In 2018, the fossilized remains of a large dinosaur were discovered here.[19] In 2019, two ancient tombs were discovered at Ber El-Shaghala archaeological site, that date back to Roman Egypt.[20]

Dakhleh Trust

The Dakhleh Trust was formed in 1999 and is a registered charity in Britain. Its declared aim is to advance understanding of the history of the environment and cultural evolution throughout the Quaternary period in the eastern Sahara, and particularly in the Dakhla Oasis. To this end, the present trustees have committed themselves to supporting the DOP.

Trustees

Name Personal details Office
John Ruffle MA Retired museum curator and Egyptologist Chairman
Judith Trowell Treasurer
Sir Graham Boyce KCMG
Glenys Carter MBE Retired director, National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries
Simon deMare Museologist
Anthony Harris
Peter Mackenzie-Smith Managing director, Prothero Limited

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Dakleh Oasis Projects, Arts, Monash University". Monash University. September 24, 2010. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  2. ^ Scribes and craftsmen: the noble art of writing on clay. Feb 29, 2012; UCL Institute of Archaeology
  3. ^ Posener-Kriéger 1992; Pantalacci 1998.
  4. ^ Parkinson and Quirke 1995:20.
  5. ^ Su (March 31, 2009). "Qasr Dakhla, Egyptian Monuments". Retrieved February 8, 2011. (blog)
  6. ^ "Dakhla Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  7. ^ "Appendix I: Meteorological Data" (PDF). Springer. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "SSEA Dakleh Oasis Project". Society for the Study of Egyption Antiquities. 2006. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  9. ^ Chandler, Graham (2006). "Before the Mummies: The Desert Origins of the Pharaohs". Saudi Aramco World. Vol. 57 no. 5. Aramco Services Company. p. 7. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  10. ^ "Ismant el-Kharab, ancient Kellis". Monash University. November 12, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  11. ^ "Excavations at Mut el-Kharab, Dakhleh Oasis". Monash University. December 9, 2010. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  12. ^ "Deir Abu Metta and Muzawwaqa, Dakhleh Oasis". Monash University. November 5, 2010. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  13. ^ "'Ain el-Gazzareen". Dakhleh Trust. 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  14. ^ "El Qasr el-Dakhil". Dakhleh Trust. 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  15. ^ "Deir el Hagar". Dakhleh Trust. 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  16. ^ "Annual Report 2008, Ain Birbiyeh Temple Project" (PDF). Monash University. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  17. ^ NYU. "NYU Excavations at Amheida". Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  18. ^ IFAO Balat Project Page. Retrieved 2014-10-22
  19. ^ "Near-perfect fossils of Egyptian dinosaur discovered in the Sahara desert". Nature Middle East. January 29, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  20. ^ "Two Ancient Tombs from the Roman Era Discovered in Egypt". Live Science. January 16, 2019. Retrieved January 17, 2019.

Further reading

Published works

  • Boozer, A. “Archaeology on Egypt’s Edge: Archaeological Research in the Dakhleh Oasis, 1819-1977” in Ancient West & East: 12: 117-156. 2013.
  • Fakhry, A. The Oases of Egypt, I : Siwa Oasis, Le Caire, Amer. Univ. in Cairo Press.
  • Fakhry, A. The Oases of Egypt, II: Bahriyah and Farafra Oases, Le Caire, Univ. in Cairo Press, c. 2003.
  • Giddy, L. Egyptian Oases: Bahariya, Dakhla, Farafra and Kharga during Pharaonic Times, Warminster, Aris & Philips, 1987.
  • Jackson, R. At Empire's Edge: Exploring Rome's Egyptian Frontier, New Haven et Londres, Yale University Press, 2002.
  • Thurston, H. Island of the Blessed : the Secrets of Egypt's Everlasting Oasis, Toronto, Doubleday, 2003.
  • Vivian, C. The Western Desert of Egypt: an explorer’s handbook, AUC Press, le Caire, 2000.
  • Wagner, G. Les oasis d’Égypte à l’époque grecque, romaine et byzantine, d’après les documents grecs, Le Caire, Recherches de papyrologie et d’épigraphie grecques, 1987.

External links

Coordinates: 25°30′00″N 28°58′45″E / 25.50000°N 28.97917°E

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The pyramid of Khui is an ancient Egyptian funerary structure datable to the early First Intermediate Period (2181 BC - 2055 BC) and located in the royal necropolis of Dara, near Manfalut in Middle Egypt and close to the entrance of the Dakhla Oasis. It is generally attributed to Khui, a kinglet belonging either to the 8th Dynasty or a provincial nomarch proclaiming himself king in a time when central authority had broken down, c. 2150 BC.

The pyramid complex of Khui included a mortuary temple and a mud brick enclosure wall which, like the main pyramid, are now completely ruined.

Sepermeru

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During the Ramesside Period of Pharaohs, Sepermeru enjoyed some prominence as both a largely populated religious, military, and administrative center for the XIX Nome. The latter district was situated near the Bahr Yusuf canal, which connected the Nile with the Fayyum region (cf. S. Katary, Land Tenure in the Ramesside Period, p. 215; O'Connor, Man, Settlement and Urbanism, pp. 690–91). The meaning of the town's name ("near to the desert") signifies its status as a frontier community (cf. H. te Velde, Seth: God of Confusion, p. 118, n.2) and was thus a suitable cult center for the god Seth.

According to Wilbour Papyrus (cf. Gardiner, Commentary, 28, pp. 127–128), by Dynasty XIX there existed two land-owning temple institutions within the main Seth-enclosure at Sepermeru. The larger of these two institutions was the "House of Seth, Lord of Sepermeru," and the smaller a temple dedicated to his consort, Nephthys, and called the "House of Nephthys of Ramesses-Meriamun." It is not known how long the temple of Seth had been established in Sepermeru before Dynasty XIX, but it is evident that the temple of Nephthys was a specific foundation (or refurbishment) of Ramesses II, which dates this particular institution to that Pharaoh's reign (1279-1213 BCE).

Both temples (and their respective land-holdings) were apparently under separate administration; the Prophet Huy administered the House of Seth in Dynasty XIX and XX. Yet, as Katary notes, "What cannot be established from the evidence of P. Wilbour is the authority of any particular prophet of the House of Seth over the House of Nephthys," and: "Although Huy may have been the chief administrator of the House of Nephthys as well as his own temple, he was most certainly not in charge of the administration of the...fields of the House of Nephthys, such fields being the responsibility of two prophets of Nephthys, Merybarse...and Penpmer." (Katary, Land Tenure in the Ramesside Period, pp. 219–220).

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Sepermeru is perhaps of most interest to modern Egyptologists because of its status as one of the chief ancient Egyptian cult centers of Seth, along with the cities of Ombos, Nagada, and Avaris. It is thought that the cult of Seth waned considerably after Dynasty XX, due to the increasing "demonization" of this deity and his association with territories and priorities increasingly considered foreign to the general interests of Egypt. Religious and administrative prominence in Nome XIX was duly shifted south to Oxyrhynchus after this time (cf. te Velde, Seth: God of Confusion, p. 139). We know, however, that Seth continued to be the object of veneration in cult centers on the outskirts of Egypt well into Roman times, especially at Deir el-Hagar (Dakhla Oasis), Kellis, Mut, and Kharga (cf. te velde, van Dijk, Essays, p. 236). It may be that Seth's cult survived in some form at Sepermeru, long after Sepermeru's decline as a religious center. Indeed, a late inscription in the Ptolemaic temple of Horus at Edfu makes reference to "Seth of Sepermeru," albeit with an insulting caveat that the god's canals in this district had become "dried-up and useless" (cf. P. Wilson, A Ptolemaic Lexikon, p. 827).

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Climate data for Dakhla
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.2
(91.8)
40.1
(104.2)
44.8
(112.6)
46.1
(115.0)
48.0
(118.4)
49.5
(121.1)
45.2
(113.4)
45.5
(113.9)
45.2
(113.4)
44.2
(111.6)
39.3
(102.7)
32.9
(91.2)
49.5
(121.1)
Average high °C (°F) 21.5
(70.7)
24.0
(75.2)
28.1
(82.6)
33.6
(92.5)
37.3
(99.1)
38.9
(102.0)
39.0
(102.2)
38.4
(101.1)
36.4
(97.5)
32.9
(91.2)
27.1
(80.8)
22.8
(73.0)
31.7
(89.1)
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.0
(53.6)
14.2
(57.6)
18.3
(64.9)
23.6
(74.5)
28.4
(83.1)
30.8
(87.4)
30.9
(87.6)
30.4
(86.7)
28.4
(83.1)
24.3
(75.7)
18.1
(64.6)
13.7
(56.7)
22.8
(73.0)
Average low °C (°F) 3.5
(38.3)
5.1
(41.2)
8.7
(47.7)
13.4
(56.1)
18.3
(64.9)
21.6
(70.9)
22.3
(72.1)
21.6
(70.9)
20.2
(68.4)
16.2
(61.2)
9.9
(49.8)
5.3
(41.5)
13.8
(56.8)
Record low °C (°F) −3.9
(25.0)
−3.8
(25.2)
−0.8
(30.6)
2.1
(35.8)
7.4
(45.3)
12.4
(54.3)
15.4
(59.7)
15.2
(59.4)
12.2
(54.0)
7.7
(45.9)
1.0
(33.8)
−2.1
(28.2)
−3.9
(25.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 0.1 0 0 0 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.2
Average relative humidity (%) 47 41 35 29 26 24 26 28 31 36 43 47 34.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 294.5 279.7 316.2 315.0 356.5 366.0 384.4 375.1 336.0 328.6 300.0 291.4 3,943.4
Mean daily sunshine hours 9.5 9.9 10.2 10.5 11.5 12.2 12.4 12.1 11.2 10.6 10.0 9.4 10.8
Source #1: NOAA[6]
Source #2: Arab Meteorology Book (sun)[7]
1,000,000 and more
300,000–999,999
100,000–299,999
<99,999
Egyptian oases

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