Bahariya Oasis

The northernmost oasis in Egypt, bahariya Oasis was the hub of the great caravan tracks between the Nile Valley and Libya, and the theater o pivot archaeological discoveries.

Bahariya is the northernmost oasis in the Western Desert.

The origin of its present place is probably related the Arabic word bahr. which is used to indicate the Mediterranean Sea mid, in a broader sense also means the north. 

the hieroglyphic texts named this oasis Desdes, while the ancient Romans called it Oasis Parva or ‘Small Oasis’ 

Bahariya is situated Atom 370 kilometers southwest of the capital, cairo, and consists of a vast, biconvex depression that is 94 km long and 40 kin wide, with some mountains such as Gebel Ghurabi to the north, Gebel Maghrafa, Gebel Dist, Gebel Mandisha, Gebel al-Engliz (the so-called ‘English Mountain’) in the middle, and Gebel Hafuf in the south. This huge basin abounding in springs was settled by the Egyptians in the Middle Kingdom. In the 18th Dynasty, Bahariya began to gain importance from a commercial and strategic standpoint in that it afforded control of the tracks linking the Western Desert to the Nile Valley and Libya, along which trade was developing and would become more and more prosperous. But it was above all in the 26th Dynasty, during the reign of the pharaoh Amasi that this oasis, whose main city was Psobthis, became the nerve center of the great caravan routes. This was a period of great prosperity, which increased even more during the Greco-Romar age, when the oasis was one of the leading production centers of wine, olive oil, dates, and cereals.The existence of such impressive Roman fortresses as Qasr Muharib

Qasr Masuda bears witness to the rigid military control the Romans exerted over the territory. Bahariya, which presently has a Population of about 27,000, has four main villages: Bawiti, which is considered the capitalAl- Qasr, the most ancient village, which has been incorporated into Bawiti, Mandisha, and Zabw. 

the Bawiti—al-Qasr  area has some hills, 1.ito twit in Arabic as qarat,

that contain necropolises for sacred animals such as the ibis at Qarat Farargi,’the Hill of the Chicken Merchant,’ or-for rich merchants and dignitaries at Qarat Qasr Salim and Qarat Subi, all of which date to the 26th Dynasty. Then, to the south, four kilometers from al-Qasr, is Qarat Hilwa, ‘the Charming Hill.’ which houses the most ancient tomb in Bahariya, that of Amenhotep-Huy, the governor of the oasis in the 18th Dynasty. There are numerous hot springs in Bahariya. Among the best known is Ain Bishmu, dating from the Roman period, Bir al-Nebega at Bawiti, and Bir Matar, which are further north, not far from the small al-Marun Lake surrounded by thick canebrakes that are the home of many bird species, including the Alaemon alaudipes lark with its curved beak.

The Bahariya Museum 

I he ‘Ethnographic Museum’ of Bahariya, which was inaugurated in 2005, is situated on the MOM street and was /handed by Mahmoud 1 .1, if local artist. I h5 private museum shows Irma-Cotta sculptures and his painting made using sand grains, and also objects documenting the various aspects of life in the oasis and local customs and traditions.

The Temple of Alexander 

Bahariya was already a very important center when, in 331 BC, Alexander the Great paid a visit there on his way back from his trip to the Siwa oasis, where he had gone to consult the famous Oracle of Jove Aiimn to gain confirmation of his claim tit the throne of Egypt.

 Alexander had a temple dedicated to himself built at Bahariya that the locals called Qasr al-Megisbah Situated in the Ain Tibnya area, it is a short distance from the Valley of the Golden Mummies and at 11, crossroad of the avan track that linked this oasis with the Siwa oasis.This was the only temple built by the Macedonian ruler in the oases of Egypt, and its structure is truly singular. 

Up to 1993 only a small portion of the complex was visible, the one corresponding to the temple proper, which was made of sandstone blocks and excavated by the Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry from 1938-1940. This structure consists of two small chambers whose walls are decorated with some bas-relief sculpture, one of which portrays Alexander-making an offering to Amun-Re and Horus, the gods to whom the temple was dedicated. The digs carried out by the Supreme Council of Antiquities in the years 1993-1994 brought to light an architectural complex consisting of forty-five chambers divided into three large sections they were probably used as storehouses and lodgings for the priests and servants working in the temple, and for the administrative personnel. 

The Valley of the Golden Mummies 

In 1996 at Bahariya, the famous archaeologist Zahi Hawass and his team discovered a huge 

necropolis dating from the Roman period situated six kilometers southwest of Bawiti. The digs, which began in 1999, have revealed that this was the largest and most important cemetery of this period ever found in Egypt. In fact, according to the first evaluation made, it must have housed hundreds of tombs scattered over a surface area of about 36 square kilometers. This extraordinary discovery, which was the subject of a host of newspaper and magazine articles throughout the world, made Bahariya famous in only a few months. The tombs investigated so far contained dozens of mummies in a perfect state of preservation. Many of them had been prepared in keeping with a special technique known as cartonnage, which consisted of placing on the mummy’s face a mask made up of sheets of linen soaked in plaster and then gilded.

   The mask was then decorated with floral motifs referring to regeneration, portraits of deities connected to the mortuary cult and the afterlife, and representations of amulets.

The mouths and eyes of the deceased were painted on the mask in order to create their facial features as accurately as possible. The Bahariya mummies, some of which were placed in very simple clay sarcophagi with a human shape and without inscriptions, have the typical decoration of the Roman period, a style in which the characteristic motifs of the pharaonic age were combined with classical elements, and the deities of the Egyptian pantheon together with those of Roman mythology. Some of these mummies can now be seen in a room in the Bahariya Inspectorate of Antiquities.

The Chapels of Ain al-Muftillah 

The site of Ain al-Muftillah lies three kilometers west of al-Qasr, near a spring at the exit of the track that links Bahariya and the oasis of Siwa. Here there are four chapels, which were excavated in 1938-1939 by the Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry (1905-1973), who is credited for many of the discoveries and studies made in the Western Desert of Egypt. The chapels were all decorated and date from the 26th Dynasty. Later digs revealed that the chapels were part of a temple complex built during the reign of the pharaoh Amasis (570-526 BC) by the high priest Zed-Khonsu ef-ankh, the brother of the governor Sheben-Khonsu, whom he succeeded in this position. The temple belonged to the adjacent city of Psobthis, which lay between Ain al-Muftillah and present-day al-Qasr. Chapel I, the largest of the four, consists of two consecutive chambers, the walls of which were decorated with bas-reliefs in a fine state of preservation that depict the pharaoh Amasis together with Zed-Khonsu ef-ankh making an offering to a series of eighteen divinities, some of whom, such as the god Aha and the goddess Nehem-wa, were highly venerated in the oasis.

The Tombs of Qarat Qasr Salim 

Qarat Qasr Salim is a small hill surrounded by the houses of the village of Bawiti, a few hundred meters from another hillock called Qarat 

aI-Subi.This latter site yielded two tomb—sat present not open to the public—that belonged to Thaty and Pedashtar, two 26th Dynasty dignitaries. At Qarat Qasr Salim, on the other hand, there are two richly decorated tombs open to the public that were discovered by the archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry in 1938.The first is the tomb of Zed-Amun-ef-ankh, a rich merchant, the entrance of which lies at the bottom of a pit five meters deep. The hypostyle burial chamber is supported by four papyrus bundle columns and surrounded by other undecorated chambers hewn out the rock in the Roman period, when the tomb was used again.The columns are painted and decorated at the base with the classical lotus stem frieze, while on the ceiling there are protective vultures with outspread wings. 

The iconographic program on the walls consisted of religious scenes connected to the mortuary ritual, including the funeral procession and the Four Sons of Horus. Twenty meters further on is the tomb of Bannentiu, who was the son of Zed-Amun-ef-ankh and who, according to the ancient inscriptions, had served as both a priest and prophet. The structure of this tomb is similar to the preceding one, except that the hypostyle hall, which communicates with the burial chamber and two side chambers, is supported by four pillars that are quadrangular rather than round and are decorated with representations of deities on every side. The iconographic program is also much more elaborate in this case: on the ceiling is the motif of the winged sun disk, and there are prayers for the salvation of the deceased and his wife Ped-Isis-peken, who shared the tomb with him. As in the other tomb, the wall paintings drew inspiration mainly from the great mortuary and metaphysical themes such as the Journey of the sun god Re on his boat supported by the god Shu aided by four genies, the scene of the psychostasia (weighing of the souls), and the god Anubis embalming a mummy lying on its mortuary bed. 

There are also references to the local gods and to typical elements of the Libyan populations that lived in the desert, such as the moon deity or other divinities connected to it like Thoth or Khonsu, or the god of the deserts Ha, the ‘Lord of the West,’ armed with a spear, who is depicted on a wall inside the burial chamber. 


Tour to Bahariya Oasis for 2 days 1-night Camping in the Desert 

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