Monday, July 20, 2009
Ongoing discoveries from Dakhleh Oasis are highlighted in this article: Buried City in Oasis Lends View of Ancient Egypt By Rob Goodier, LiveScience Staff posted: 15 July 2009 12:04 pm ET A trench that was cut through collapsed mud bricks and the compacted debris of buildings leveled centuries ago is revealing a dusty scene of roof-topped streets in ancient Amheida, a city marooned on an oasis deep in Egypt’s western desert. The latest in a chain of archaeological discoveries in a site that dates back at least 5,000 years, the covered streets are a glimpse into rural life under the Egyptian sun. 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. The site is in the Dakhleh Oasis, 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Cairo and 185 miles (300 kilometers) from Luxor, a religious and political hub of ancient Egypt. The archaeological work has yielded a treasure trove of art and writing. Through this rural lens, archaeologists are shifting their notions of education in ancient Egypt during the Greek and Roman empires. And they have noticed deep connections between powerful central governments and the outposts in the oases. Bagnall described the latest discoveries at a conference in Manhattan last month. First glimmer of Egyptian culture The Dakhleh Oasis stretches several hundred square miles below a barren escarpment, hedged by the dunes of the eastern Sahara that roll to its edges. The sand contrasts with the farms and the cattle-grazed meadows within. Wine, olives and dates remain important to the economy for the 75,000 residents of the oasis today. People settled in Dakhleh at least 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic period, the twilight of the Stone Age as agriculture began to catch on. At that time, the climate was wetter and residents were surrounded not by a desert, but a savanna. Bagnall suspects that Egypt's first farmers may have worked in the oasis before agriculture arrived in the Nile Valley. Rest of article.