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Session of october 14

Lectures of de Mme Bérangère Redon, under the patronage of M. Nicoas GRIMAL : “Forts et mines d’or du désert Oriental : recherches récentes dans le district de Samut”.

Founded in 1994, the French Archaeological Mission of the Eastern Desert (Egypt) explored for twenty years the Roman forts guarding the roads linking the Nile to the Red Sea.
In 2013, the mission undertook the study of the remains of the Eastern desert dating back to the Ptolemaic period (331-30 BC), beginning its explorations with the area of Samut, located halfway between Edfu and Marsa Alam. It includes many remains related to the operation of the neighboring gold mines, and to its location on the old caravan route connecting the port of Berenice to Edfu. All these facilities were severely damaged just before the start of the excavations, while the region is under a veritable gold rush. Fortunately, the remains spared from this destruction has delivered important information about the timing and terms of the investment of the first Ptolemies in a key region of ancient Egypt.
During three seasons (2014-2016), our work concentrated on two sites: Samut north, that hosted a mine operated under the first of the Ptolemies, and Bi’r Samut, where a large fort is built during the reign of Ptolemy 2 or 3. Some surveys have also been undertaken on nearby sites, dating from Pharaonic (New Kingdom) and Medieval (early Fatimid period) times, which demonstrate a certain continuity of the occupation in a district in which gold has always been looking for and exploited.

Keywords : Eastern desert (Egypt) ; Ptolemaic period ; gold mines ; army ; archaeology


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