Bahariya oasis tour
° bike, walk, 2×2
° 1.5-2 hours
1 Bawiti Arch 9 Car Wash
2 Tire Repair’ 10 To Hospital
3 Tourist Police 11 Cultural Center g.
4-Mini Market 12 Suqs A,
5 Gas Station 13 Post, Bank, Tourist info –
6 Restaurant 14 Bus
7 Museum 15 Telephone Central 1,
8 Aqueduct 16 Hrptel 16
17 Pharmacy Black Mountain
Almost all the sites in Bawiti and Qasr lie at N 28 21 and E 28 51. The minutes and seconds are so close and the streets so narrow the GPS serves no purpose. Take a guide. He will be very happy to provide , jump into your car, or walk you around.All hotels provide this service. Inexpensive guides are available from the Tourist Infornation Oflice. Do not go with the men who need the buses. The two villages of Bawiti and Qasr,collectively called Wah al-Gharbee by Belnoni, have merged into a single village in modern times. Qasr was the ancient capital of the oasis, and held eight hundred inhabtants when Cailliaud visited in 1819-20. Bawiti, with six hundred people, did not come into existence until Islamic times, when it was named alter a sheikh. Traditionally, the descent to Bawiti and Qasr WHS made from Naqb al-Ghurabi.The track followed the depression iioor and could be viewed by the people of the village as thcY had the high ground, situated as they Wefe atop a cliff The visitors had to thread thelf way through the gardens and up the twisting paths to reach the houses. It was 21 defensive design. Today one enters the oasis from a new road into the newest P311 of the community atop the cliff The Old parts of the two cities still exist and SO, Of course, does the cliff, but the modem road and the modem state do not need the type of protection the former road provided.
Alpenblick Hotel 3
Ain’a -Habaga rn
if Main Street to Farafra
Qarat Qasr Salim Tombs
The old sections of the villages of Bawiti and Qasr are slowly being abandoned as people move into more modern houses. These older homes are the traditional oasis communities and the newly formed Desert Lover ’s NGO is beginning to take an interest in restoring some of the structures. It will be a diflicult task, for although the expertise still exists, the
finances are lacking. Bawiti lies directly over a more ancient settlement and it is probable that a great many antiquities are buried beneath ks foundations. Fragments of temples and tombs are found in the walls of houses and a few sites have been found intact. Most of the ancient ruins date to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty.
Oasis Heritage Museum
Mahmoud Eed is Bahariya’s answer to Mibroulc in Kharga and Badr in Farafra. He is self-taught and cannot seem to stop ding unusual buildings and artwork to Bahariya’s streets. As urban sprawl on the sculptures in the garden and the ancient trees at the entrance to the muuseum were destroyed, Mahmoud his surreal mind to work on recreating Once again at his exotic camp across Black Mountain at the entrance to The new interior is filled with lyres, each scene depicting life in the S, with the statues bearing the actual Cature of the current weaver, potter, or ketmaker. But the biggest treasures are the small faces Mahmoud does so well. Some of them are also surreal, with heads growing out of heads, growing out of heads. Mah- moud fires his own statues like the Romans once did. He builds a fire of wood and places his statues around it. He fires each piece twice and tells us that the type of wood determines the final color ofthe piece. If he fires with cow dung, the resulting piece is very strong and becomes dark red.
Antiquities Headquarters and Museum
Since the discovery of the Valley of the Golden Mummies, a number of sites that were fonnerly closed are now open to the public. For a fee you can see the museum and five additional sites, including the tombs of Amenhotep Huy, Barmentiu, Zed- Amun-ef-ankh, and the temples of Ain al-Muftilla and Alexander the Great. The Antiquities Department is easy to find (see map). The storeroom which now serves as a museum contains ten mumrnies from the Valley of the Golden Mummies. It is worth the entire trip to see these miunmies Aside from the two in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, they are the only ones from the Valley of the Golden Mummies that are on display. Theremaining three hundred-plus ancient citizens of Bahariya are still in their tombs and off-limits to travelers. The additional sites covered by the entrance fee are marked with an asterisk in the text below. The Ain al-Habaga begins behind the anitquities storeroom.
Ain al-Habaga is a Persian aqueduct, called manafs in Bahariya, that runs for 3 km (1.8 miles) through the village of Bawiti and down to the gardens below. It is one of many aqueducts known to exist in Bahariya, but we keep losing them. When Cailliaud visited in 1819, he identified thirty water systems and was told they were “the work of the Koofars [kujar], that is, the infidels.” At Mandisha, Cailliaud saw ten manajis, of which eight were6 BAHARIYA OASIS still working, one with fourteen openings. There were more manafis in the southeastward of Bahariya Oasis, and Cailliaud wrote, “Four of these discharged their water into a huge excavation 70 meters diameter and 12 meters deep.” In 1843, Alexander George Hoskins counted only four manafis in this area, one from the northwest, two from the west, and one from the south. The last was the largest,
with ten openings within 55 meters (180li). By 1898, when John Ball was surveying Bahariya for the Geological Survey of Egypt, he only found two at Bawiti and Qasr and one in the south. The latter had dried up. Only the manafs near al-Hayz have been investigated in Bahariya and this is unfortunate, since there are more known aqueducts here than in any other part of the Western Desert (additional ones are being discovered yearly in Kharga). Ain al-Habaga is located in the heart of Bawiti, which makes it easy to access.
Despite the fact that in 2008 it was clogged and shut down, this is the only place in the Western Desert where the average tourist can get up close and personal with an
aqueduct. The shafts serve as a good illustration of the way in which galleries and shafts were dug at the springs in the oases. The system tapped the water source and allowed it to fiow downhill to the fields that needed the water. The tunnels were deep so the water could leech from the sides. The openings were used to enter the tumiel and keep them free from debris so the water could fiow, and many openings were built. All this is visible within walking distance of the museum. Ain al-Habaga’s source is behind the Antiquities Department and the weather station, to the east of the main road (see map). Just behind the museum are a number of shafts that allow the visitor a bird’s-eye view of the spring. The carefully masoned tops that rose a meter above the ground and ran from source to garden have been destroyed and in some instances structures have been built directly over the shafts. Where once one could follow the entrances across the if one crosses the road, in a few meters the entrances appear along the edge of the ridge at Qarat Qasr Salim (see below)_ They continue into the village of Qasr. AS the spring reaches the cliffs at the edge of the village, it deepens and is open at the top (N 28 21 181 E 28 52 344). This spot has a good view of the garden. The spring was owned by a single family and in order to keep the water flowing through the tunnels it had to be cleaned each year, a task to which all male members lent a hand. This was not easy as the cool, dark recesses are hiding places for snakes and scorpions. Within the tunnels the maidenhair fern grows. Although it plagues the farmers, who weed it out, it is a beautiful plant. After thousands of years, this spring stopped flowing in 1953 (along with a number of other springs in the oasis). Let us hope that the newly formed NGO will restore the exterior from source to exit so the visitor can have a good look at the workings of one of these ancient systems.
Qarat Qasr Salim
*Tomb of Zed-Amun-ef-ankh
*Tomb of Bannentiu
Qarat Qasr Salim is a small hill within the village of Bawiti along the path of the Ain al-Habaga. This is probably Ball’s QaSf Alam, visited by both Wilkinson and Ascherson and described as a “rectangular crude brick structure on a Slight eminence.” At that time, it was a ruin with only the lower walls remaining. The F156 was probably created from the debris left by centuries of occupation. Standing 011 top of the mound are two tombs. _ The Tomb of Zed-Amun-ef-ankh 15 only accessible via a large pit with steep sides. Fakhry described the tomb 35 having traditional religious texts and distinguished it by an abundance Of false doors and pillars. The tomb’s freestanding, hand-carved pillars are circular’ whereas most of the tombs in Bahaflya have easier-to-carve square pillars. The ceiling is painted with twelve vulfufes that represent the goddess Nekhbet’
in Bahariya, Zed-Amun-ef-
Zed_Amun-ef-ankh, is that of another successful caravan merchant. This tomb, more elaborate than the father’s, is completely Surounded by a mud-brick wall and is one of the easiest to enter, because the authorides of the mine at Managim donated an iron stairway in the 1970s that leads down to the entrance of the tomb. The interior is painted in yellows and reds, the colors of the sandstone found in the oasis. The site includes seven uninscribed Late Period tombs that sit atop the rubble. They were discovered around the perimeter ofthe mound several decades ago. Burial Gallery of the Sacred Ibis No access Qarat al-Farargi, Hill of the Chicken Merchant, is now Qarat al-Faruj, Mound of the Chicken, thanks to Frederic Colin, who is doing extensive excavations in Bahariya and building upon Ahmed -Fakhry’s earlier exploration. The reason fur the name remains the same: modern ililmbitants thought the small mummies Within the burial chambers were Qiicltens. The Burial Gallery of the SUQNCI Ibis is probably the most extensive
mmlulty ln Bahariya. It stretches far into Small ridge in a series of tunnels with Chambers extending to either side. hill the chambers are tiny recesses cut The walls where the small mummies Smal laid to rest. In ancient Egypt people who d buy sacred animals from vendors fum Often sold their wares directly into of sacred buildings. The mummified
were then offered to the gods, FQS petitions. Often buried Wh the murrunies were other offer- Such as statues, amulets, and maUY of which have been found at Bawiti. The gallery ln use from the end of the Dynasty through to the The Burial Gallery of the Sacred Ibis lies under a modern cemetery on a hill south of the Military Intelligence Office.
Tombs at Qarat al-Subi
Since Ahmed Fakhry first excavated these tombs in the first half of the twentieth century, the entrances have disappeared as in Qarat al-Faruj. As strange as this may sound, it is not an unusual occurrence in the archaeological history of Egypt. Many tombs in such well-known archaeological sites as Saqqara and the Valley of the Kings were discovered in the nineteenth century only to become lost in the twentieth, and subsequently they had to be rediscovered. In 1999, amid the jubilation about the Valley of the Golden Mummies, that is exactly what happened. Under the guidance of the local antiquities inspectors, villagers were compensated for homes that were then destroyed so that
excavations could begin. Tombs were then rediscovered. Fakhry had recorded four historically significant tombs in several publications. Information found within the hieroglyphic inscriptions indicates that the occupants were native to Bahariya and held important national positions. They are: Tomb of Ped-Ashtar was a high priest living in Bahariya during the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. His tomb consists of four rooms that were reused during the Roman era. His name means Gift of Ashtar (a Syrian goddess).
Tomb of Thaty was a priest of Khonsu and the grandson of the high priest, Ped- Ashtar. Tomb of Ta-Nefert-Bastet was the wife of Thaty. She may have been a Greek, which is indicated by the light skin of her effigy. Tomb-chapel of Zed-Khonsu-ef-ankh was the govemor of Bahariya during the reign of the pharaoh Amasis during the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. His tomb is decorated with religious text from the Book of the Dead. It is closed to the public.