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Al-Quseir Today
Al Quesir

Modern Luxor
If pharoah could see Luxor today

Ancient Edfu
From The Place Where Horus is Extolled, you travelwest to the Kharga Oasis.

Dakhla Oasis
At various times known as al-Wah, the Inner Oasis, Oasis Magna and Zeszes, place of the two swords.

Off-site links to cities of ancient Egypt
Egyptian Monuments

A detailed guide to the archaeological sites of the Nile Valley and desert areas of Egypt. A detailed article about Balat, ‘Ain Asil & Qila el-Dab’a.

Ancient Egyptian Cities

In ancient times, cities Egypt grew from the development of agriculture and the emergence of the state as the unifying and predominant form of political organization. However, even as early as 3500 BC, villages, towns and cities, consisted of regional capitals linked to the population centers of smaller administrative districts. The term we most frequently apply to these districts is nome, which was actually not used to describe a province until the Greek Period.


Legend has it that Homer appeared to Alexander in a dream inspiring the 25 year old conqueror to found a city that would carry his name. The order was given and the architect, Dinocrates of Rhodes, was charged with the task. Alexandria was built by the Greek architect Dinocrates (332-331 BC), at the orders of Alexander the Great. In 331 BC, Alexander of Macedonia, the Great, marched into Egypt and freed the country from Persian control. His stay was to be brief but significant for the rest of time.

The ensuing struggle for succession between Alexander's generals saw Ptolemy, son of Lagos, entrench his position in Egypt with Alexandria as his capital. The dynasty that he founded was to last some three hundred years and make of Alexander's city the cultural and scientific pole of the Hellenistic world. The Mouseion, established under royal patronage, gathered together the greatest intellects of the period - Zenodotus, Eratosthenes, Euclid, Hero - and the attached Great Library seemed to reflect in part Alexander's universalist dreams. Here were held some half a million texts covering all strands of human thought. Towering more than one hundred metres above this glittering city of learning and political power stood the Pharos, the ancient lighthouse and youngest of the Seven Wonders of the World.


The Athribite nome and its capital derived their name from the goddess Thriphis, whom inscriptions both at Athribis and Panopolis denominate the most great goddess. Thriphis is associated in worship with Amun Khem, one of the first quaternion of deities in Egyptian mythology; but no representation of her has been at present identified. John Gardner Wilkinson supposes Athribis to have been one of the lion-headed goddesses, whose special names have not been ascertained.

Also known by the names of Banhā, Benna, Benha, Bandar Banhā, Athribis is located on the Damietta (east) arm of the Nile, north of Cairo, this city is known for its production of honey and attar of roses. The Athribis Stele" is probably related to Athribis as it mentions Sea Peoples: "The pharaoh 's action against them is attested in four inscriptions : the Great Karnak Inscription , describing the battle , the Cairo Column , the Athribis Stele ( which last two are shorter versions of the Great Karnak ) and a stele found at Thebes , called variously the Hymn of Victory , the Merneptah Stele or the Israel Stele ."

Al-Quseir on Egypt's Red Sea Coast
by Heba Fatteen Bizzari

Al-Quseir, in Arabic translates as the “Smaller Version” of a place. Nevertheless, the position of the city once made it one of the major strategic ports of the Red Sea. It is located 85 kilometers south of Safaga and 140 kilometers south of Hurghada. The city was known as the White Harbor in the Ptolemaic times. Several civilizations during the past four thousand years have used this remote outpost on the Red Sea coast as a starting point to go exploring, expanding and trading with remote lands.

More interesting sites are to be found in the surrounding area, such as the mines at Bir Umm Fawakir, the rock pictures at Wadi Russumat, and the vast Roman settlement at Mons Claudianus. The fortress of Al-Quseir, now restored, was built to protect once again the trade with India. The recently restored fort hosts an interesting Visitors' Center with displays of local history, archaeology and culture.

Oasis Cities

Dakhla Oasis - Dakhla Oasis Map

In ancient times Dakhla was known as Oasis Magna and Zeszes, the ‘Place of the Two Swords’, because it is divided into two distinct areas. It has also been called el-Wah, the ‘Inner Oasis’ and is an area of around 2000 square kilometres. There is evidence that Dakhla, like other desert regions, has been inhabited since Prehistoric times – fossil bones associated with human habitation have been found here from 150,000 years ago. During Egypt's Old Kingdom, the Dakhla may have in fact been its most important oasis, with a direct link by way of Darb al-Tawil to the Nile Valley.

It could be possible the Old Kingdom capital of the Oasis was at Ain Asil. There, the palace of the oasis governors under the 6th Dynasty pharaoh, Pepi II have been unearthed. The oldest inscribed object found at this specific location could be dated to the Old Kingdom reign of Teti. Evidence of the First Intermediate Period has been found, as well as at least one painting dated to the Middle Kingdom at this oasis. Later, during the New Kingdom, the capital moved to the village of Mut, further west. Later, during the 22nd Dynasty, a stele of Shoshenq I explains that he sent a representative to the oasis (the two lands of wahat) in order to regulate disputes over water rights.

The Dakhla Oasis lies to the northwest of Kharga and is also about 310 km to the southeast of Farafra. Research has found that the Oasis has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and that there was once a huge lake here. There are neolithic rock paintings that indicate that the lake was frequented by elephants, buffaloes and ostriches. In pharaonic times the oases were places of wells, orchards, vineyards and farms as attested in many of the New Kingdom tombs in the Nile Valley. As the lake dried up, the inhabitants migrated to the Nile valley and were probably some of its first settlers.

There are remains of Ptolemaic structures in Dakhla, with more evidence from this period emerging with recent excavations, but so far there is little evidence of Greek occupation. The Romans however, left many important remains in Dakhla, including the recently restored Temple of Amun at Deir el-Hagar.

Ain Asil
According to the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO), who have been investigating this area for more than 30 years, Balat (the cities modern name) is beginning to reveal its secrets of an even earlier history, for nearby is an Old Kingdom necropolis and an associated settlement from the same period at Ain Asil. The site at Ain Asil, originally a small fortified enclosure, later encompassed a rectangular area of 33,000 square meters , split into two separate parts. Most of the town, which was an administrative center for Dakhla during the reigns of Pepi I and Pepi II, appears to have been destroyed by fire at the end of the Old Kingdom and abandoned for a time.

Dakhleh Oasis provides a unique opportunity to confront the central issues of Egyptian settlement archæology in a site likely to yield a rich assemblage of artifacts including written and pictorial materials. By the time the Romans conquered the oasis region, excavated statues and paintings suggest that Amheida followed the dominant culture in lockstep. In spite of their geographic isolation, it appears they were fully integrated in the Roman world.
At Amheida, archaeologists led by Roger Bagnall at New York University have sifted through the remains of a settlement far removed from the thoroughfares of the Nile Valley. Since 2008, New York University is the primary sponsoring institution, with Columbia University continuing as a partner in the project. The excavations at Amheida collaborate with other participating groups in the Dakhleh Oasis Project, an international venture now three decades old dedicated to studying the interaction between human settlement and the environment over the long span from the earliest human presence in the oasis to modern times.
According to the Archaeological Institute of America, there is a 15-room house belonging to Serenus near the center of the town. Serenus was part of the city council in the middle of the fourth century. Four of the rooms have surviving wall-paintings.
Deir el-Hager
Qasr Dakhla or el-Qasr
Qasr Dakhla, situated to the north-west of Mut, is one of the fortified Medieval Islamic towns often seen in the oases and said to be the oldest continuously inhabited and the best preserved settlement of its type in Dakhla. It rests on the Sioh Ridge, nestled beneath the pink limestone escarpment which marks the northern limit of the oasis The Islamic town, el-Qasr (meaning ‘the Fortress’) was probably founded around the end of the 12th century AD by the Ayyubids, over the remains of an earlier Roman Period settlement. During this time the fortified town is thought to have been the capital of the oasis.
Kellis (Modern: "Ismant el-Kharab")
Mut el-Kharab
Named for the ancient Egyptian goddess Mut of the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu.
Qaret el-Muzawwaqa