Introduction About Bawiti
Bawiti is a town that has a lot of ancient sites surrounding it. In fact, Bawiti is the primary town of Bahariya. After the oasis became famous from the “Valley of the Golden Mummies” discovery, tourists and visitors are now allowed to access other ancient monuments of the area too.
Guests can purchase tickets to the open sites by visiting the Antiquities Department in Bawiti. The only tombs that guests cannot see are the Golden Mummies. While you’re at the Antiquities Department, go to the back of it, and you’ll find a small museum within what used to be a warehouse. It houses five well-preserved Graeco-Roman mummies and a tiny collection of interesting artefacts from the Bahariya Oasis area.
The Unique Aqueduct System
On the Bawiti streets, you can still see the ancient ruins of the aqueduct system, which was known as a Manafis. The system is 3 kilometers and runs all the way from Bawiti to the gardens and the Ain El-Hubaga spring. The ancient civilization of the town must have gotten their water supply from the aqueducts and spring, so they could drink and grow crops. Although the aqueducts were likely built by the Romans, they continued to be used well into the 20th century. Archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry has a theory that the aqueducts are even older than the Romans, perhaps from Dynasty XXVI.
The Decorated Tombs
If you look at the Ain El-Hubaga houses, you can see several ventilation shafts. Just north of here, in 1938, Fakhry conducted more excavations and found four well-decorated and well-preserved tombs from Dynasty XXVI.
Djedamun-ef-ankh was a wealthy landowner who is believed to have owned two of the tombs. His tomb is huge and contains strangely round pillars, along with many religious scenes and numerous painted fake doors. In the scenes, Djedamun-ef-ankh offers his burial chamber to the gods. When you look at the paintings on the ceiling, you’ll see depictions of the goddess Nekhbet. You have to take an iron ladder down and into a deep shaft to reach the tombs.
The second tomb was constructed for Bannentiu, who was the son of Djedamun-ef-ankh. He was a businessman with a lot of power and wealth. His tomb was bigger than his father’s tomb, and it even had more decorations. The hall contained square-shaped pillars as well as three side chambers. The Supreme Council of Antiquities restored the tomb recently by painting it in lots of bright and vibrant colors, especially red and earth tones.
The burial chamber entrance is guarded by Thoth and Horus. The plastered walls show the dead in front of a priest wearing leopard skin. There are lots of gods next to him, such as Horus, Amun-Re, Wepwawet, Anubis, Khons, Nefertum Re-Horakhty and more. The Romans reused the tombs for their own burials too.
In the 20th century, the tomb of Bannentiu suffered damage to its decorations after thieves came in and stole a few reliefs from it. These thieves were eventually caught by the police, who also recovered the blocks they stole. Now the reliefs are safe in the Cairo Museum. Restoration efforts have not been made yet.
The Findings Of Ahmed Fakhry
Fakhry discovered three tombs from Dynasty XXVI in 1947. It was located at Qarat el-Subi in a ridge close by. The entrances to the tombs were hidden because of the new buildings that were constructed in Bawiti.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities found out about the tombs once again in 1999 because the locals were reportedly digging up a residential area to retrieve ancient artefacts. This prompted modern archaeologists to excavate the three tombs in which Fakhry originally discovered. The tombs were owned by a high priest named Ped’ashtar and his grandson and the grandson’s wife. The reliefs show the wife, Ta-Nefert-Bastet, wearing a very lengthy Libyan-style white fringed robe. During the Age of the Roman Empire, robbers stole artefacts from the tombs.
In April 2000, the Supreme Council of Antiquities found the Tomb of Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh. The tomb featured gorgeous paintings and decorations, which is unusual for tombs from the New Kingdom era. The huge limestone sarcophagus was inside the burial chamber. Inside the alabaster coffin, was the dead mummified body of Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh. It was badly damaged.
When the body was searched, archaeologists discovered six gold amulets on it which depicted different gods. They continue to investigate the tomb and other burials in the area which belong to the family of Djedkhonsu-ef-ankh. Between 2002 and 2003, excavations led by Dr. Hawass resulted in the discovery of remains which belonged to a Bahariya governor’s house.
Qarat el-Faragi is an area on Bawiti’s southern edge. The name translates to “Hill of the Chicken Merchant” due to all the mummified birds that were discovered there. The Qarat el-Faragi ridge contains falcon burial galleries and sacred ibis galleries. They exist below the modern cemetery, but the public is not allowed to see them. The galleries are believed to be from sometime between the Late Period and the Graeco-Roman period. It was also common in Egypt for mummified birds to be buried too. This was a way for Egyptians to make an offering to the gods. The underground tunnels have lots of bid burials in them.
When Fakhry excavated Qarat el-Faragi, he discovered a huge gallery with branches of several different smaller galleries. Every gallery had wall recesses with mummified birds inside of jars. Fakhry discovered inscriptions on the walls for the gods, along with several burial objects too.
Recently, an excavation was conducted close to Bawiti. The excavators believe they found a temple which honored Hercules, who was a Roman god. They think the temple was constructed in the 1st century B.C. under the order of Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus. The ruins also contained many stelae and statuettes which depicted both Roman gods and Egyptian gods. The inscriptions were in Greek, hieratic, and demotic. Most of the temple was destroyed, but you can find remains of the structure’s layout still left at the site.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities did an excavation in a Bawiti house after three more tombs had been discovered there in 2002. During the excavation, they also found an Amun-Re temple too. The Council had previously spent 15 years looking for this temple, so they were very happy. The columns and walls of the Amun-Re temple featured hieroglyphic inscriptions in honor of Amun-Re. There are so many sites surrounding Bawiti which have not been excavated yet. Who knows what will be discovered at these sites in the years to come?
Updated On May 04, 2020