siwa egypt tours

siwa egypt tours Gebel al-Mawta, Mountain of the Dead, is a conical mountain a little over a kilometer to the north of Shali along the main road from the escarpment which is considered as the best siwa egypt tours.

Siwa Egypt tours
Siwa Egypt tours

Local residents also call the mountain Gebel al-Musabbarin, Mountain of the Embalmed.

Tombs from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, Ptolernaic, and Roman periods are cut into the side of the mountain. There is no evidence of Christian burial.

Most of the tombs at Gebel al-Mawta are barren, but a few have decorations. Bones once littered the mountain and it is believed that the emerald mines of Siwa are in this area.

siwa egypt tours

Gebel al-Mawta N 29 12 666
Talna tombs N 29 14 313
Roman   I
Bayda gardens   29,12 ,896
Balad al-Rum
Doric temple N 29 13 678
Gebel al-Mawta
Gebel al-Mawta, Mountain of the Dead, is a conical mountain a little over a kilometer to the north of Shali along the main road from the escarpment which is consiered as the best siwa egypt tours. Local residents also call the mountain Gebel al-Musabbarin, Mountain of the Embalmed.

Tombs from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, Ptolernaic, and Roman periods

are cut into the side of the mountain. There is no evidence of Christian burial.

Most of the tombs at Gebel al-Mawta are barren, but a few have decorations. Bones once littered the mountain and it is believed that the emerald mines of Siwa are in this area.

According to G. E. Simpson in The Heart of Libya, Cailliaud found them at Mount Zabarah at the Red Sea and presented 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of emeralds to Muhammad Ali, but that is far from Siwa.

Despite the fact that the people of Siwa 

believe the mountain to be haunted and will not venture there at night, it is here, in times of great rains and invasions by modern armies, that the inhabitants of Siwa have gone for protection, living in the caves amid the dead.

Minutoli recorded that people actually lived in these tombs and those further west in the 1820s.

They were mostly Mujabra Arabs who had migrated to Siwa to avoid taxes in Tripoli and had their own government.
chipping away at the inscriptions and violating the mummies in search of amulets.The mania for buried treasure includes Gebel al-Mawta and diggers often come in quest of riches.

siwa egypt tours

Tradition maintains that Radwan, the king of Siwa Egypt tours at the time of the Arab invasion, took the bodies from Gebel al-Mawta and threw them into many of the springs in an attempt to poison the enemy.There are four tombs worth seeing at Gebel al-Mawta.

Tomb of Niperpathot – siwa egypt tours

The Tomb of Niperpathot is a large tomb and one of the oldest in the oasis, almost certainly from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. It has a court with three rooms on either side and is one of the few tombs on the mountain with inscriptions, here drawn in red.

Niperpathot was the Prophet of Osiris and Scribe of the Divine Documents.

His tomb contains his effigy and images of Osiris and Hathor.

Tomb of the Crocodile

The Tomb of the Crocodile is a three-roon tomb excavated in 1941. The decoration: are poor, but they depict the goddes: Hathor, the god Osiris, the tomb owner and several animals, including a fox and :

Tomb of Mesu-Isis

The unfinished Tomb of Mesu-Isis is decorated on only one wall, but has an excellent depiction of uraiae (rows of cobras) painted in red and blue on the cornice of the entrance. Discovered in 1940, there is evidence that it was robbed in antiquity. The owner’s name cannot be deciphered, but his wife’s name is legible and the tomb is known by her name.

Tomb of Si-Amun- siwa egypt tours

Ahmed Fakhry called the Tomb of Si-Amun the most beautiful in the Western Desert. Si-Amun appears to have been a wealthy oasean, perhaps of Greek origin, but a follower of the ancient Egyptian religion. The tomb contains images from the Egyptian pantheon, including an exquisite painting of the Goddess Nut standing beside a Sycamore tree. Discovered in 1940, the tomb has undergone consider-
able mutilation by inhabitants of the area, yet there is still plenty to see.

There are many uninscribed tombs at Gebel al-Mawta and Ahmed Fakhry, who excavated here in 1938 and 1939, was optimistic that more inscribed tombs would be discovered once additional excavations were carried out.

On a spur of the mountain below the tombs, an ethnographic exhibition fills the interior of a traditional mud-brick house.
The display is mainly of the tools and pottery used bythe people of Siwa Egypt tours . Beside it, in the former British resthouse, is a handicraft shop.

At night, the mountain is illuminated.

Masrab al-Ikhwan

Masrab al-Ikhwan, due west toward Libya, leaves the main road of Siwa 2 km (1.2 miles) north of Shali. For those who are traveling by car or bicycle it is a good idea to pause after 2 km (1.2 miles) for orientation. To the left is Birket Siwa, the salt lake; the flat-topped mountain beside the lake is Gebel Bayda, the White Mountain (Adrar al-Milal, Edrar Amelal in

Siwan, Mount Khamisa, or Gebel

Ghaf1ir); and the mountain to its right is Gari).

There are a number of outlier hills and mountains to the left along the escarpment, but few bear names.

Most of the mountains are honeycombed with caves that date from ancient times.

Somewhere in this area the scientists of the Apollo-Soyuz expedition found a hill almost covered by a sand dime, and the top was entirely of marble.

Birket Siwa

The shoreline of Birket Siwa, like all lakes in the Western Desert, changes with the season. Traditionally in winter the lake creeps up to almost surround the nearby mountains, while in summer it recedes, leaving space for desert tracks around its perimeter.

In recent years the lake has expanded and often does not recede enough to use the old tracks.

Dikes are being dug to control its flood. It still shimmers in the bright sunlight and turns mauve and red at the edges where salt accumulates.

Despite the fact that Siwa is drowning in salt,

there is only one salt quany in the entire oasis.

This is located on the shores of Birket Siwa 9 km (5.6 miles) after leaving the main road.

Mainly for domestic use, the salt is not good enmmh tn exnort. the olive harvest with this salt, but it resulted in an inferior product and, today, somewhat ironically given the fact that in ancient times tributes of salt were sent to Persia, the salt necessary to cure the olives has to be imported from Mersa Matruh.

The gardens in front of Gebel Bayda and Gebel Hamra, 13 km (8 miles) from the main road, are called Ghari.

There is little here, and it is all private property. There are a number of caves in the surrounding hills to the north and south of the road. Prehistoric sites exist around the lake.

One that has been explored was named Shiyata 1 and is located in a small depression overlooking the lake.

Gebel Bayda

The magnificent monolith of Gebel Bayda is a major landmark in Siwa and one of the most dominant features ofthe Siwan land- scape.

It answers to a host of names, including Adrar al-Milal, Edrar Amelal in Siwan, Gebel Ghajjir, and Mount Khamisa, the last, according to Byron Khun de Prorok, after an ancient Ammonian queen. It is riddled with caves along the southern side and, once a year, the festival of Sidi Ghaffir is held here.

Local inhabitants claim that the Italians landed their airplanes on the flat-topped summit of Gebel Bayda during the war.

Today, a number of enterprising individuals have erected ecovillages in the area.

lt is a good choice, for not only is the region quiet and beautiful it also enjoys moonrises two weeks out of every month.

Nearby is a large top-heavy rock balanced on shaky legs.

De Prorok said the Siwans believed that when the rock falls, it will land on a mound where the
queen’s treasure is buried.

Maraqi- siwa egypt tours

Maraqi, the administrative center of this area, was once separated from the main Oasis by a pass, but this obstacle no longer exists. In recent times it was settled by Bedouin who established the present vil-
19361 Although they, and most of the can be found here. Today, Maraqi is a small village of new brick homes, but a few years ago, before the rain of 1982, the village was all mud brick. On low ground, the rains flooded the area, destroying homes, killing livestock, and forcing people to move to the caves at Balad al-Rum.

siwa egypt tours

Doric Temple

Many of the westem travelers of the nineteenth century commented on this temple. Cailliaud found it the prettiest of the oasis.

W. G. Browne observed in 1872 that it had no inscriptions but that its “proportions are those from the best age of architecture.” Recent excavations concur that it was “built or rebuilt” by Trajan. K. P. Kuhlmann, a recent excavator in Siwa,

after consulting a number of sources, including the Siwan Manuscript, which said the area contained a church and cemetery of Christian patriarchs, concluded “that Balad al-Rum refers to Byzantine installations rather than a settlement of pagan Greeks.”
The ruins of this temple sit at the center of the recent controversy over the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Described by travelers in the nineteenth century as a perfect Doric structure, it is 45 ft 4 inches (13 m) long, 23 ft (7 m) wide, and 19 ft 8 inches (6 m) high.

It lies in ruins that suggest it was toppled by an earthquake or some other cataclysmic event.

A Greek mission headed by Liani and Manos Souvaltzi announced at the Sixth International Congress of Egyptology in Turin, Italy, in September 1991 that it had discovered the tomb of Alexander while working at this site.

The news caused an immediate sensation around the world. The Souvaltzis claimed to have found three Greek-inscribed tablets with the sixteen-pointed star emblem of the Macedonian rulers.

On one of the tablets, no less a personage than Ptolemy himself said that Alexander was poisoned and his body was buried at Siwa.

Alexander’s burial site has spun controversy for centuries. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC and wanted his body to be thrown into the river so his mortal remains would be of no consequence.

This did not happen, His generals made other plans.

After the two years it took to build a funeral cart, his body, by now mummilied, was en route to an unknown destination for burial when it was seized by Ptolemy.

He had been Alexander’s general, but was now ruling Egypt as Ptolemy I Soter.

He took Alexander’s body to Memphis for burial.

According to the historian, Pausanius (second century), Ptolemy Philadelphus moved Alexander to Alexandria and buried him there.

Fifty or more years later, Ptolemy IV Philopater moved the body, along with all his other ancestors, during the third century BC to a communal mausoleum in Alexandria.

This was reported by the Greek Sophist Zenobius in the same century.
It was at this site that Cleopatra and Caesar, then Cleopatra and Antony, and in 30 BC Octavian sans Cleopatra, viewed the remains.

According to the Roman historian

Suetonius, Octavian, to ascend the throne of Rome as Augustus, placed a golden diadem on Alexander’s head.

When Emperor Caracalla visited the tomb in 215, according to Suetonius, he took away Alexander’s breastplate, which he wore, and in return presented him with his own purple cloak and jewelry.

When Severus came to power, according to another Roman historian DioCassius,

he sealed the tomb of Alexander against vandalism. By the end of the fourth century, after Theodosius had outlawed paganism, the tomb, by then situated in a large enclave, had disappeared and no one knew where Alexander was buried.

Alexander’s tomb seems to have reappeared in the 800s and 9005, for Leo Africanus, Ibn Hakam, and al-Masudi claim to have seen the body of Alexander.

None of them tells us where they saw it.

Perhaps they never saw it at all, as much that they recorded is questionable.

According to Robert Bianchi, in an article called Hunting Alexander lv Tomb, which traces Alexander’s historical journey, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization has recognized over 140 attempts to search for the tomb, including four within the last four decades.

The Polish Center of Archaeology excavated in Alexandria in the 1960s at the intersection of Huiriya
and Nabi Daniel streets, where a Napoleonic fort once stood. They have discovered many Roman ruins, but their quest ended at the walls of the mosque of   Nabi Daniel.

Many believe that the tomb is under this mosque.

If Alexander’s tomb is there, he will remain there untouched, for the mosque is so fragile that excavations have been forbidden.

siwa egypt tours

Perhaps it is Alexander’s revenge for having been put on display to begin with.

In the end, the Institute of Hellenistic Studies’ discovery at Siwa was rejected by everyone.

If Alexander’s body is in Siwa, then someone in the distant past granted Alexander his wish, for he has been undisturbed for centuries.

The intrigue surrounding the recent excavations “needs an Oracle to explain,” said one Siwan. In the meantime, the excavations have stopped and nothing is happening that might resolve the mystery.

Balad al-Rum- siwa egypt tours

Balad al-Rum, Town of the Romans, is located at the base of the mountain opposite Maraqi. There are the remains of a mud-brick structure that has been variously identified as a Roman fort and a church.

Kuhlmann concurs with the nineteenth century travelers that this was the Christian stronghold of the oasis and was probably the site of the Byzantine fort referred to by George of Cyprus in the seventh century. In his book Siwa Egypt tours , C. Dalrymple Belgrave maintained that CoptiC crosses carved into the stone were still visible at the beginning of the twentieth century. Excavations are under way and additional tombs have been found, as well as Greek and Roman mummies with pottery, lamps, and wooden masks.

The exact function of the ruin, long a mystery, IIIHY soon be revealed.

As with most sites in Siwa egypt tours ,

the inhabitants believe bmied treasure is to be found at Balad al-Rum and there is ample evidence of digging.

Slightly to the south in the gardens is Ain Mashindit, a crystal clear Spring that bubbles out of the ground and is enclosed by a circular retaining wall.

The small mountain of Gebel Tin-kmamou lies to the west of Balad al-Rum.

Local lore maintains that one villager actually found treasure at Gebel Tin-kmamou and is now one of the richest people in Siwa.

According to tradition, a light is sometimes visible at night from the top of the mountain and in one of the caves the stones jangle like silver coins.


As with so many locations in the desert, the newly paved road lies to the side of the former road, which changes way points and maps.

Birket Azmuri

Four kilometers (2.5 miles) beyond Aghurmi is Birket Azmuri on the right, or south, side of the road. 

glimmered white as sunlight reflected off the salt residue left behind by the evaporating water.

By the light of the full moon, the landscape has an eerie, haunted quality.

With the rising water table this has changed.

Naqb an-Mughbara

(5 miles) later there is a  in the road.

The northem route is asrab Dal, which leads up the escarpDe Prorok maintained that a mountain to the north of Maraqi (which he called Inscription Mountain) is covered with ancient graffiti of Libyans, Ammonians (Siwans), and Tuaregs.

He believed that footprints carved into the rocks at Maraqi are the same as those found in Love Mountain 1,242 km (2,000 miles) to the west and offers them as proof that the great Tuareg Empire stretched to Siwa.

Masrab al-Ikhwan continues west, but permission to visit this area usually extends only as far as Balad al-Rum. ment through Naqb al-Mughbara, Pass of Dust, to Qara Oasis and Qattara Depression.

siwa egypt tours

The southern route is the way to Zaytun and beyond through the escarpment to Areg, Bahrein, Nuwamisa, and Sitra oases.

Taking the southern route, the road passes kilometer after kilometer of salty soil, entirely useless for agriculture.

A note must be made here of an interesting discovery by the Geological Survey.

Sixteen kilometers (10 miles) north of the pass is a natural shalt 96 meters (300 ft) in diameter and 38.5 meters (120 it) deep.

It once had a wooden roof, but this now lies on the bottom of the shaft.

Qasr al-Ghashsham

the ruins of Qasr al-Ghashsham, Castle of the Tyrants. There is ample evidence that the area, an important olive and olive oil center, was inhabited in classical times.

Fakhry maintained that in antiquity the eastem half of the oasis was more populated and more productive than the western half Nineteenth-century tourists thronged to this site.

Today, although there are remains of a recent village, the site is abandoned.

The mud-brick village was established by Abbas II in an unsuccessful attempt to cultivate the area. Qasr al-Ghashsham, just to the south of the modem village, has recently been excavated by the

Egyptian Antiquities Organization.

Among the ruins are potsherds, an ancient temple, which was standing in 1900 but is now a ruin, ancient foundations of houses, and a cemetery.

Fakhry dates them to the Ptolemaic era, and recent studies indicate the region was still thriving during Roman times.

The Siwans believe that a king called Ghashsham lived at this place and that gold can be found in the local stones.

Like other sites, it has become a favorite place in the quest for buried treasure.

The Siwan- siwa egypt tours

Manuscript weaves a tale of treasures, riddles, and magic similar to those found in The Book of Hidden Pearls.

It tells of the statue of a man standing inside a small hill that had a spring that poured its waters
over the golden stones of Qasr al-Ghashsham.

To see the statue and the gold, a person had to drink from a spring whose location has been lost in time. Once this was done, the treasure could be found.

Ain Qurayshat

Ain Qurayshat is the largest spring in Siwa and perhaps in the entire Western Desert.

Yet, today, its outllow is wasted, watering only a small, sad-looking palm grove as it Hows into Birket Zaytun.

As with most of the major springs in Siwa, the source is enclosed by a circular retaining wall.

This is a pleasant place to take a bath, for the view, with Birket Zaytun lying in a valley below the spring and the sand-covered southern escarpment beyond forming the horizon, is among the most

spectacular in Siwa Egypt tours.

A major agricultural development scheme is currently underway in this area.

A few kilometers beyond Qurayshat some new brick houses are under construction to be used by immigrant families destined to farm the poor soil of the area.

The government is planning to build one hundred houses for the resettled families.

Each family will receive live acres and LE 3,000. The Hrst job the new farmers will face is washing the soil to rid it of salt.

This is not an easy task. The land will have to be tilled, flooded, and drained many times before it becomes productive, and the process will be hampered by thefact that the water itself is salty.
Abu Shuruf
Abu Shuruf is another arid and abandoned area that was productive in antiquity. Today a bevy of mud-brick structures in various stages of decay dots the settlement. Amid the mud-brick buildings is an ancient temple dating to the first century BC, which was examined by Ahmed Fakhry in the 1930s.

To the south of the temple is an ancient cemetery. In recent times the people of the oasis donated the land in this area to the Sanusi. Currently abandoned, Abu Shuruf yi  will also be pan of the new agricultural bproject.

The spring at Abu Shuruf is enclosed by an oval retaining wall, unusual in this oasis, where most of the retainers are circular.

The water is cool and Siwans

believe that the outtlow from the small dam just south of the main spring has great healing propenies.

They come to sit in the flowing waters. The Hayat Company for Industrialization and Development has established 3 water factory here.

To its right is the road to the spring, which, like Cleopatra’s Bath, has chairs and a small shop nearby.

Two kilometers (1.25 miles) beyond Abu Shuruf is another abandoned settlement, this time an ordi, or prison.

In thi? 1950s, a group of prisoners were sent here by the Egyptian government to cultivate the land.

They were housed in the mud-brick dwellings that are still standing. Slightly to the south was the oilicers’ rest-house.

The area is fed by Ain Nakhab.


Zaytun is the last of the abandoned oases in the eastem half of Siwa. In the early part of the twentieth century, the Siwans gave it to the Sanusi, who settled a hundred slaves at Zaytun to grow date and

 olive trees.

Jermings-Bramley noted that all the Sanusi gardens throughout the desert were cultivated by black slaves.

They were to provide food for any “member of the sect.” They would pile the dates
under the trees and they were free for the taking.

They could not be sold.

In 1917, Claud Williams reported that a hundred people were living at Zaytun. By the 1930s, the Egyptian govemment decided that the Sanusi had too much influence in the Westem Desert, especially in Siwa, and asked the Sanusi to trade the land for other properties near the

Giza Pyramids. and Nile cruise

The land is currently owned by the Haida family, sons of Sheikh Ali Haida, a prosperous Siwan merchant who was present when Rommel stopped for tea in one of the gardens between Shali and Aghurmi on September 21, 1942 (less than a month before the decisive Battle of al-Alamein). ln 1988, a careless Workman caused a tire in the garden. Left unattended and undetected, the fire bumed out of control for several days, destroying over two hundred date trees and a hundred olive trees.

Fire engines were summoned from as far away as Mersa Matruh.

The Ere was finally brought under control, but not before it had caused a large amount of damage. Despite the catastrophe, the sturdy palm trees, their bark completely charred by the fire, sprouted green fronds once again and were back in production in Just a few years.

Village- siwa egypt tours

Beyond the gardens is the abandoned villlage 1386 Where the laborers of the Sanusi were h0l1sed. Although no excavations have been carried out in this village, it is an EXcellent place to wander for there are Olive press several interesting things to see. Enterinj the village from a passage in the south western side, take the first right to an olm olive press, still intact.

Circling around tht outside of the village to the northeasteri side, almost opposite the southwesteri entrance, is a low retaining wall enclosing a mud-brick building with a mihrab niche  jutting out of its eastern wall.

This was the mosque.

The passage to the left of th: mosque leads directly to the ancient temple. In fact, the temple can be seen at the end of the path leading from beside the mosque.

At first glance, it is hard to recognize for it is topped by a mud-brick structure. But it is a stone temple complete with inner sanctuary, which the Siwan:
call ‘the safe’ because they believed it was a good place to hide money.

Fakhry, who first visited the village ir the 1930s, tells us that the Italians bombec Zaytun in November 1940. Twenty-foul bombs fell on the small town, but only twc exploded, neither causing great damage.

The people took refuge in the temple.

In the area, there are a number of antiquities dated to dilferent periods: the temple ol Bilif, the necropolis of Abu I-Awwaf, and a few tomb-temples.

Hatiyet Umm al-Hiyus Prehistoric settlements once existed along the mud pans located 30 km (18.5 miles) east of Shali.

Ostrich shells and chert tools indicate the northem part of the site was occupied during the Holocene, while artifacts from a site in the southern section indicate late Holocene habitation.

Bir Wahed

Bir Wahed, Well One, was made by Russians looking for oil in the 1960s, who found water instead. It is now a safari destination. Nearby is a petrified forest with the large trunks of ancient trees.

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