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Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt$
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Henry Colburn

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474452366

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474452366.001.0001

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Rural Experiences: The Western Desert

Rural Experiences: The Western Desert

(p.95) 3. Rural Experiences: The Western Desert
Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt

Henry P. Colburn

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter is concerned with the Dakhla and Kharga Oases in the Western Desert. This was an obscure region, considered by the Egyptians to be outside of Egypt proper. Population there was limited, especially after the Old Kingdom when the artesian wells dried up. This picture changes dramatically under Achaemenid rule. Several temples were established or expanded in the oasis. One of these, the Hibis Temple is the earliest example of the ‘pan-Egyptian’ temples that characterized the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. New towns were built along with these temples, and these towns were supplied with water by means of qanats, an irrigation technology that originated in Iran. The resurgence of the oasis, then, served an imperial purpose, namely to link this important strategic location more closely to centers of imperial power in the Nile valley. But, as the Demotic ostraca from Ain Manawir indicate, this act also created a thriving local economy with ties to the Mediterranean and the production of cash crops, notably castor oil, for export. Once again, the empire’s impact in the oases produced varied consequences.

Keywords:   Kharga, Dakhla, Darius, Hibis Temple, Qanat, Petubastis IV, Ain Manawir, Irrigation

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