Saturday, July 16, 2011

Online: Bir Umm Fawakhir

Oriental Institute (1993 season)
Oriental Institute (1996-1997 season)

Bir Umm Fawakhir Survey Project 1993: A Byzantine Gold-Mining Town in Egypt. C. Meyer, L.A. Heidorn, W.E. Kaegi, and T. Wilfong.

The Oriental Institute continued its survey of the site of Bir Umm Fawakhir in Egypt with a short season in January 1993. The site lies halfway between the Nile and the Red Sea, or about five kilometers northeast of the famous bekhen-stone quarries and graffiti of the Wadi Hammamat. The 1992 project was a geological study of the area of Bir Umm Fawakhir. Since the only resources in this hyperarid desert are mineral, it explains why the Bir Umm Fawakhir town existed where it did and why. By far the most valuable resource was the gold carried in white quartz veins in the local granite, and the mountainsides around Bir Umm Fawakhir are riddled and trenched with ancient mines.

Bir Umm Fawakhir, Volume 2: Report on the 1996-1997 Survey Seasons, By Carol Meyer, with contributions by Lisa Heidorn, Alexandra A. O'Brien, and Clemens Reichel.

Bir Umm Fawakhir is a fifth-sixth century A.D. Coptic/Byzantine gold-mining town located in the central Eastern Desert of Egypt. The Bir Umm Fawakhir Project of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago carried out four seasons of archaeological survey at the site, in 1992, 1993, 1996, and 1997; one season of excavation in 1999; and one study season in 2001. This volume is the final report on the 1996 and 1997 seasons.

The goals of the 1996 and 1997 field seasons were to complete the detailed map of the main settlement, to continue the investigation of the outlying clusters of ruins or "Outliers," and to address some specific questions such as the ancient gold-extraction process.

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