The Eastern Desert of Egypt during the Greco-Roman Period: Archaeological Reports
Collège de France
Date de publication
Institut des civilisations

The Eastern Desert of Egypt during the Greco-Roman Period: Archaeological Reports

Collège de France

Institut des civilisations

AideEAN13 : 9782722604889
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The Eastern Desert of Egypt extends over a vast area of mountains and sandy
plains between the Nile and the Red Sea. Its natural riches –gold, gems and
high quality stones (such as granite from Mons Claudianus, Tiberianè or
Ophiatès, porphyry from Porphyritès, basanites [greywacke] from the Wâdi al-
Hammâmât, etc.)– have, despite the difficulties due to harsh climatic
conditions, been exploited since the Predynastic period. The Pharaohs, the
Ptolemies and the Roman emperors often sent expeditions to extract these
minerals and stones. The desert was also a passageway for all sorts of traffic
coming from countries bordering the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Expeditions
and commercial activities, which started from time of the Old Kingdom, greatly
expanded during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Trade focused on spices
initially, fragrant resins and gems, then in the Roman period, on a wide range
of exotic products including pearls, precious stones, fabrics, etc. The
archaeological sites of this region were practically inaccessible for
logistical reasons until recently and they were, until now, exceptionally well
preserved. Between the late 1970’s and 2012, American, English, Italian and
French teams were able to explore or search hundreds of sites, significantly
improving our understanding of gold mining under the Ptolemies and the
Byzantine emperors, granite and porphyry quarries opened by the Roman
emperors, and trade with Arabia and India through the ports of Myos Hormos and

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