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Bahariya consists of many villages of which Bawiti is the largest and the administrative center. Qasr is Bawiti’s neighboring/twin village. To the east, about ten kilometers away are the villages of Mandishah and el Zabu. A smaller village called Aguz lies between Bawiti and Mandishah. Harrah, the eastern most village, is a few kilometers east of Mandishah and el Zabu. Hiez is the last village, but it may not always be considered as part of Bahariya because it is so far from the rest of the villages, about fifty kilometers south of Bawiti. Please note the coordinates in the top-right corner and in the pane to the right are incorrect. The coordinates (according to Google Earth) are 28 degrees 20′ N, 28 degress 51′ E.
The people of the oasis, or the Wahati people ( meaning “of the oasis” in Arabic), are the descendants of the ancient people who inhabited the oasis, Bedouin tribes from Libiya and the north coast, and other people from the Nile Valley who came to settle in the oasis. The majority of Wahati people in Bahariya are Muslims. There are many mosques in Bahariya. The nature of social settings in the oasis is highly influenced by Islam. Also, traditional music is very important to the Wahati people. Flutes, drums, and the simsimeyya (a harp-like instrument) are played at social gatherings, particularly at weddings. Traditional songs sung in rural style are passed down from generation to generation, and new songs are invented as well. Music fromCairo, the greater Middle East, and other parts of the world are now easily accessible to the people of the oasis.
Agriculture is still an important source of income, though now the iron ore industry close to Bahariya provides jobs for many Wahati people. Recently there has also been an increase in tourism to the oasis because of antiquities (tombs, mummies and other artifacts have been discovered there), and because of the beautiful surrounding deserts. Wahati and foreign guides lead adventure desert tours based out of Bahariya to the surrounding white and black deserts, and sometimes to Siwa or the southern oases. Tourism is a new and important source of income for locals, and it has brought an international presence to the oasis.
There is also the ruin of a temple to Alexander the Great located within the Bahariya Oasis. It is believed by some Egyptologists that the Greek conqueror passed through Bahariya while returning from the oracle of Ammon at Siwa Oasis. Excavations of the Greco-Roman necropolis, known as the Valley of the Golden Mummies began in 1996. Approximately thirty-four tombs have been excavated from this area.
Workaday life in Bawiti, Bahariya oasis There is also the ruin of a temple to Alexander the Great located within the Bahariya Oasis. It is believed by some Egyptologists that the Greek conqueror passed through Bahariya while returning from the oracle of Ammon at Siwa Oasis. Excavations of the Greco-Roman necropolis, known as the Valley of the Golden Mummies began in 1996. Approximately thirty-four tombs have been excavated from this area.
The Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, announced that a tunnel in the tomb of King Seti I (1314-1304 BC) has been discovered by Dr. Zahi Hawass and his team in the Valley of the Kings. They’ve been searching for this tunnel for over twenty years in the West Bank necropolis. Dr. Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and the head of the mission, finally succeeded in completely excavating the 174m long tunnel after several seasons of work that began in November 2007. The tunnel was cut into the bedrock near the end of the beautifully decorated tomb of Seti I. In addition to excavating the tunnel, the team braced the walls and ceiling with metal supports. They also built a wooden walkway over the original stone staircase of the tunnel to preserve it and installed a mining car system to remove rubble from the team’s excavations. During their work, the mission uncovered many shabtis and pottery fragments that dated to the Eighteenth Dynasty (1569-1315 BC). Several limestone ostraca fragments, as well as a small boat model made of faience were also found. During their excavation of the staircase, the team found that three of the steps were decorated with red graffiti.
The only other excavation of the tunnel took place in 1960 under the direction of Sheikh Ali Abdel Rassoul. His team was able to reach a depth of 136m but they had to stop their excavation because it was too hard to breath. Upon reaching the end of the 136m section, which had been partially excavated by Abdel-Rasoul's workmen, Dr. Hawass’s team were shocked to uncover a descending passage which measures 25.60m in length and 2.6m wide. The mission eventually uncovered a fifty-four step, descending staircase.
After the first descending passage, a second staircase measuring 6 meters long was cut into the rock. At the beginning of this passage the team found a false door decorated with hieratic text that reads: “Move the door jamb up and make the passage wider." These written instructions must have been left from the architect to the workmen who were carving out the tunnel. Dr. Hawass said that when he went inside the tunnel of King Seti I for the first time he noticed that the walls were well finished and that there were remains of preliminary sketches of decoration that would be placed on the walls. Unfortunately none of this was every completed. Dr. Hawass added that he was very surprised to find a second staircase inside the tunnel. It appears that the last step was never finished and the tunnel ends abruptly after the second staircase.
Dr. Hawass believes that the workmen and artists first finished the original tomb of Seti I during his twelve-year reign and then began to construct the tunnel. It appears that Seti I was trying to construct a secret tomb inside a tomb. It is likely that when Seti I died his son, Ramesses II (1304-1237BC), had to stop the work and bury has father. Dr. Hawass believes that Ramesses II continued where his father had left off and constructed his own tunnel within his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The Egyptian mission is currently working in the tomb of Ramesses II to preserve the wall paintings and to look for a similar tunnel to the one in the tomb of Seti I.
The statue was found beneath the southern false door of the tomb. The statue was found beneath the southern false door of the tomb, and even before the room had been opened, I could see the statue's crystal eyes gazing back at me. The statue shows Kai sitting on a high-backed chair. He wears a shoulder length wig, decorated with horizontal rows of curls. Each eye is framed in cooper, while his eyebrows are in raised relief. The lips are thin and finely drawn. The musculature of the body is very well defined and Kai's right arm is bent across his chest. His left arm is resting on his lap on top of his short, white shendyt-kilt. The base of the statue is decorated with five lines of hieroglyphic text which list Kai's title including the "Steward of the Great Estate." On either side of Kai are his two children. They are very small figures and barely reach to his knee caps. His daughter is sitting next to his left leg in a long white sheath dress. Kai's son is standing naked next to his right leg. Depictions of naked figures with their finger to their lips, was an ancient Egyptian artistic convention for depicting male children.