Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kharga - Egypt's Frontier Oasis

Archaeology Magazine Volume 61 Number 6, November/December 2008

Details of the latest issue of Archaeology magazine are now on the publication's website. Articles include a piece by Salima Ikram on Kharga oasis, for which an abstract is available on the above page. There are some excellent photographs with detailed captions accompanying it. Here's an extract from the abstract:

Deep in the Libyan Desert, 125 miles west of Luxor, lies Kharga, Egypt's largest oasis. The North Kharga Oasis Survey (NKOS), of which I am co-director, has established that this remote area--more than 100 miles long and from 12 to 60 miles wide--was continuously occupied throughout Egyptian history. We now know that it is home to an extraordinary variety of sites, including prehistoric rock art, Neolithic encampments, pharaonic monuments and burials, Roman settlements and water-supply systems, and the stars of the oasis--five unique Roman forts that guarded this part of the empire's southernmost frontier. Newly discovered ancient graffiti has even provided the name of a previously unknown ruler, King Aa, in power around 3000 B.C., who sent an expedition to this remote area. The NKOS's results are also changing our understanding of ancient Egypt's connections with its neighbors. We can now show that Kharga played an important role in trade between Egypt and other parts of Africa, from the Old Kingdom up through the modern period.

Until recently, archaeologists have paid little attention to the Kharga Oasis, a depression in the desert that in the distant past was a large body of water that shrank over time, leaving smaller lakes and an easily tapped underground water supply.

Salima Ikram is professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo and co-director of the North Kharga Oasis Survey.

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