New settlement discovered in Kharga Oasis
The American-Egyptian mission from Yale University has stumbled upon what appears to be the remains of a substantial settlement. The city is a thousand years earlier than the major surviving ancient remains at the Umm Mawagir area in Kharga Oasis.
View of an excavated bakery at the settlement.
Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosny, announced that the settlement is dated to the Second Intermediate Period (ca.1650-1550 BC) and was discovered during excavation work as part of the Theban Desert Road Survey. This project serves to investigate and map the ancient desert routes in the Western desert.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that the newly discovered settlement is 1km long from north to south and 250m wide from east to west. It lies along the bustling caravan routes connecting the Nile Valley of Egypt and the western oasis with points as far as Darfur in western Sudan. Hawass continued that archaeological evidence at the site indicated that its inhabitants were part of an administrative center and they were engaged in baking on a massive scale.
Dr. John Coleman Darnell, head of the Yale mission, said that during excavations remains of large administrative mudbrick structures were found. These buildings consisted of rooms and halls similar to administrative buildings previously found in several sites in the Nile Valley. These sites may have been used as a lookout post as part of the administrative center of the settlement. Part of an ancient bakery was also found with two ovens and a potter’s wheel, used to make the ceramic bread molds in which the bread was baked. The amount of remains from the debris dumps outside the bakery suggest that the settlement produced a food surplus and may have even been feeding an army.
Excavating bakery complex at Umm Mawagir
Dr. Deborah Darnell, co-director of the mission, said that early studies on the site revealed that the settlement began during the Middle Kingdom (2134-1569 BC) and lasted to the beginning of the New Kingdom (1569-1081 BC). However the site was at its peak from the late Middle Kingdom (1786-1665 BC) to the Second Intermediate Period (1600-1569 BC).