Al-Wahat al-Bahriyah, 'the northern oasis', is situated in a large depression about 360 km southwest of Cairo.in the Past when people from Bahariya wished to go to the Nile valley, they often waited until a caravan was passing through, They traveled between the Nile and the oasis in three days. It is completely surrounded by high black escarpments. In the Cretaceous Era (145 till 65 million years ago) volcanic episodes formed the basalt columns that dominate the oasis. At 128 meters above sea level, the oasis has the highest elevation of all the Western Desert Oases. It is covering an area of nearly 1,800 km²; at its longest point it is 94 kilometers and at its widest 42 kilometers.
At one time the oasis was the floor of an immense ocean. Although Bahariya has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years, strangely no human traces have been found dating from earlier than Ancient Egypt's Middle Kingdom (2055-1770 BC). The oldest tomb found dates to the 18th Dynasty (1550-1292 BC) and its owner is Amenhotep Huy. Especially from the 26th Dynasty onwards through the Roman era, Bahariya was culturally and economically flourishing. This can be learned from the chapels in Ain el-Muftilla, the tombs in Qãrat Qasr Selim and Qãrat al-Subi.
Nowadays the oasis (36,000 inhabitants) consists of several small villages (Managim, el-Hara, Mandisha, Zabw, Agouz, Bawiti , and al-Haiz), each surrounded by palms and fruit trees. Bawiti is the main village of the oasis. The road was not paved until 1978, and before that time few tourists visited the oasis. Yet the oasis, though the closest to Cairo in kilometers, remains the most distant in time. It has been slow to move into the modern world, a facet that is changing, but until now Bahariya offers the visitor a step back in time. It has plenty of ancient sites to illustrate its importance in antiquity and is the entrance gate to the various deserts, such as the Black Desert, Aqabat, Crystal Mountain s, Western Desert, the stalactite cave Djara and the white chalk rock sculptures of the White Desert.
Bannentiu and Djed-Ankh-Amun-Iuf (Zed-Amun) The tombs at Qasr Selim (26th Dynasty)
In 1938 the Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry (1905-1973) discovered four tombs at the ridge of Qarat Qasr Selim. Two of the tombs are richly decorated and open to the public. The two tombs belong to Zed-Amun-ef-ankh and his son Bannentiu, members of a rich family of merchants. They lived during Ahmose II's (570 - 526 BC) reign. The entrance of the hypostyle burial chamber of Zed-Amun-ef-ankh lies at the bottom of a pit five meters deep. It contains scenes of the funeral procession and the Four Sons of Horus.
According to the ancient inscriptions Bannentiu had served as both a priest and prophet. The burial chambers of this tomb can be reached through a shaft about 6 meters deep. The scenes in the inner burial chamber contain a well-preserved representation of the Judgement Hall of Osiris and the weighing of the heart of the deceased.
Regrettably, both tombs were reused as burial places during Roman times and robbed in recent times, when some mummies, beads, and amulets were taken. Luckily, both tombs still portray some grand decorations and are useful to our understanding of early life in this Oasis. Bawiti and Qasr Qasr was the ancient capital of the oasis Bawiti lies directly over the more ancient settlement and great antiquities are buried beneath its formations, Most of the Ancient Ruins date back to 26th Dynasty The valley of the Golden Mummies several years ago, A donkey fell into a hole and unearthed a spectacular Mummy with a gilded Coffin, kept under wraps as excavation continued, the find was announced to the world as the valley of Golden Mummies. It is believed that this site may contain as many as 10,000 intact from the Roman Period Other sights in Bahariya Oasis : There are a number of other sights in Baharya that are included as part of a tour by many safari Trips in Bawiti Gebel Al Ingleez Black or English Mountain This mountain is distinguished by a ruin at its summit. It is not difficult to climb the mountain and the view from the top offers a panorama of the northern part of the oasis. At one corner of the summit are the ruins of a World War I lookout post, which was manned by Captain Williams, after whom the mountain is sometimes called. Williams was posted to Bahariya to observe troop movements by the Sanusi. The house, consisting of three rooms and a bath, is now in ruins. This is the same Captain Claud Williams of the Light Car Patrols for whom Williams Pass along the border of Libya and Egypt. Gebel Mandisha Located between Bawiti and Manisha, Gebel Mandisha divides the cultivated land. It has black capping dolerite and basalt four kilometers (2.5 miles) long, three kilometers (r .8 miles) wide, and a5 meters (8o feet) high. According to local legend, it is named after the daughter of a Roman king who converted to. Islam Since the Roman and Islamic periods are centuries apart, the legend is suspect. Gebel Dist Gebel Dist, Mountain of the Pot, is an Oligocene ferruginous mesa, shaped like a pyramid. It is 50 meters (160 feet) high and 800 meters (2560 feet) in circumference at the base narrowing to 30 meters (96 feet) circumference at the top. Locals call it Magic Mountain because of the way the light plays on the Isomer and the material of the mountain during the different hours of the day. Because Dist can be seen from most places around Bawiti , it is a good landmark. Gebel Maghrafa Gebel Maghrafa, Mountain of the Ladle, and Dist (they are 50 meters apart) dominate the plain around Bir Ghaba. Maghrafa, the smaller of the two mountains, is an Oligocene ferruginous butte, 600 meters (1920 feet) round at the base and 15 meters (48 feet) at the top. Paralititan stromeri (Stromer's Tidal Giant) is the name of the dinosaur that was redis-covered recently by a Penn/Egyptian Geological Museum team. It is named not only for its location along the shores of an ancient sea, but for its size, being the largest and heaviest dinosaur known, and for the man who first found dinosaurs in Bahariya, the German scientist Ernst Strome, Stromer found the giant creature in 1914 at the base of Gebel Dist. His research and samples were lost during World War II when his Munich museum was destroyed by Allied bombing. The modern scientists found five tons of material including 16 bones of the giant, some in fragments, but one arm bone 169 centimeters long. They estimate the beast to have been about 25 meters high and to weigh 50 to 80 tons. It ate plants and enjoyed life along coastal lowlands amid mangrove trees about 93-99 million years ago in the Cenomanian stage of the late Cretaceous period. No other dinosaur has b4n found enjoying mangroves. The dinosaur is not the only find in the area. Fish, turtles, a crocodile and a lot of vegetation tell as that the surroundings were subtropical. Simply retrace your steps back to the place where the desert and garden routes meet and turn right along the garden route. As one continues along the road the entire plain comes into view on the right. With mountain as the backdrop, there are fields, desert, and long vistas. A good place for photos.
Lake al-Marun Local legend says that no one should go to Bir al-Marun alone because the afrit (mischievous spirits) hold parties at night, and sometimes the beating of their drums can be heard in the other villages. In fact, there is probably an old Islamic village in this area or at least a caravan stop from the days of the Hagg. Sahara Suda -Black desert Now all the mountains are spread out for you in an almost straight line along the horizon. We are approaching Sahara Suda, the Black Desert, a favorite safari destination for local tour groups. The ground to the right and left of the road is covered with black stones. Weaving in and out of these mountains is great fun. Although a skilled 2-wheel driver can manage most of it, there is a good chance the car will eventually get stuck. Take a guide—they are not expensive and can tell you things you will never discover by yourself.
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