Egypt: Western Desert

Khentika Tomb and Hibis Temple

Kharga Oasis

New Valley Governorate

The Western Desert

Egypt

February 28, 2020

 

I had the good fortune to visit two important Ancient Egyptian sites in the Western Desert.

The Mastaba of Khentika

The Mastaba (Tomb) of Khentika, is located in the center of the necropolis of the 6th Dynasty (2323 -2150 BCE), Egypt’s Old Kingdom.   

Khentika was the governor of the Dakhla Oasis under the reign of Pharaoh Pepi II, (2284 – c. 2216 BCE).

A Mastaba (“bench” in Arabic or Per-djet "house of eternity" in Ancient Egyptian) is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mudbricks or stone.  A deep shaft descends to the underground burial chamber.

 

The Temple of Hibis*

The Temple of Hibis in the Western Desert is the epitome of Egypt’s function through the ages: a melting pot of cultural influences.

Medieval Islamic Town

Town of Mut

Dakhla Oasis

New Valley Governate

Western Desert

Egypt

February 28, 2020

Everyone is so friendly here: the boy and his father who are my guides, the gift shop manager and other inhabitants of this  eight hundred year old Islamic fortress town..

The mud construction is supported by the trunks of date palms

The mosque and madrassa are still in use.

 

Qasr Dakhla

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.

Desert Towns, Tombs and Temples

Dakhla Oasis

New Valley Governate

The Western Desert

Egypt

February 28, 2020

The Western Desert of Egypt is alive with splendid scenery, agriculture, friendly local folks, and fascinating archeological sites.

Here are the descriptions of two ancient sites near the oasis town of Dakhla:  the Egyptian Necropolis of Al Muzwaqa and the Roman Temple Deir el-Hagar

Necropolis of Al Muzwaqa

The Necropolis of Al Muzwaqa translates as “the wonderfully decorated tombs.”  They are located north of Mut village near Deir El Hagar. The Necropolis was discovered in 1908 by the American archeologist Herbert Winlock during his excavation missions in the Western Desert of Egypt.

The White Desert

Farafra Oasis

Western Desert

Egypt

February 27, 2020

 

“Have I landed on the Moon?”

Just a few hours south of Cairo and 45km (28 mi) north of Farafra lies a desert that will make you feel like you’ve landed on an alien landscape.  *

The White Desert, also known as Sahara el Beyda (sahara means desert), is an astonishing and shocking geologic experience. 

Molded by centuries of ventifact erosion and sandstorms, these unique snow-white and cream colored calcium rock formations crop up across the landscape like great abstract statues.

The Black Desert

Bahariya Oasis

Western Desert

Egypt

February 25, 2020
 

In Egypt I had the opportunity to visit The Black Desert, one of the most unusual deserts in the world.

I visited the desert twice: on a cold cloudy morning at sunrise (hat, scarf, shirt, sweater. hoodie, jacket, gloves) and the next day, a warm afternoon (no gloves needed).

The Black Desert was formed over 180 million years ago by the volcanic activity that took place in the area. Now, the desert is covered with black stones of hardened lava. In some places, I can see majestic hills covered with black stones. Other parts are large plains with orange to brown terrains where the sandy soil now supports large scale agriculture. 

The Crystal Mountain of Egypt

Bahariya Oasis

Western Desert

Egypt

February 24, 2020

 

The "Crystal Mountain" in Egypt

A subvolcanic vault, filled with crystals of a hydrothermal event

Norbert Brügge, Germany
Dipl.-Geol.

(I have taken the liberty to edit this essay for syntax and punctuation.  jp)

The crystals from the Crystal Mountain between the Bahariya Oasis and Farafra Oasis, in the northern section of the White Desert, are not Quartz crystals. They are Barite crystals (BaSO4) and/or Calcite crystals (CaCO3). 

To ascertain the hardness of the crystals, Quartz (SiO2) has the hardness 7, Barite and Calcite the hardness 3.5-3.0 (Mohs-scale). Quartz crystal can scratch glass, Barite or Calcite cannot.

At first glance, the crystals of Calcite and Quartz are similar, but a closer look reveals the differences.  Quartz crystals have six sides, mostly with a pyramid-shaped crystal tip.  The crystals of Calcite, on the other hand, can be rhombohedral (crystal with six rhombus-shaped sides) or scalenohedral (triangles with different lengths and with different numbers of sides). Every specialist will confirm that what we see here are not Quartz crystals.

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