LOCAL TIME IN Dakhla Oasis

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Al-Mezauwaqa Tombs

About Al-Mezauwaqa Tombs

Translated roughly as ‘The Decorated Hill’, el-Mezauwaqa is a part of the Amheida cemeteries covering an area with lots of ridges and hills made of soft stones. It was out of this pre-existing structures that the tombs were carved out, about 300 of them.

The area has been in existence from the first and second centuries AD during the Roman occupation but most of the tombs feature a traditional Egyptian design in their appearance.

While the identities of the occupants of most of the tombs are still unknown because they haven’t been excavated yet, those of Petosiris and Petubastis are remarkable due to the bright and vivid murals used to decorate them.

Padiosir Petosiris’ tomb which is said to have been built early in the second century AD is double chambered. On the other hand, that of Ptubastis has only one chamber, but there are ledges meant for keeping mummies. A painting of Petubastis himself is featured in the tomb while the chapel ceiling has the Zodiac design characteristic of the first century AD. He can be seen in another location painted in a pink cloak designed after the pattern of the romans. Various symbolic representations are depicted to surround him and there’s also an image of Osiris weighing his heart and Isis pouring a libation for his spirit.

There are also the usual depictions of stars and constellations all of which are characteristic of funeral art in the New Kingdom. There are paintings of a scarab, birds and animals as well as the god Horus.

While it has not been confirmed by archaeologists whether or not any mummies were actually interred in the two tombs mentioned above, some corpses have been exhumed from other tombs close by which are not as elaborately designed. Also, some carvings and scrawling on the tombs have shed more light on the traditions and spiritual practices and beliefs of the Romans who occupied Dakhla.

El-Muzzawaka’s tombs have been in the public eye for quite long and they have been renowned as stores of high value relics. Herbert Winlock took photos of both major tombs in 1908, and Ahmed Fakhry only discovered them again in 1972 which prompted the re-creation of the murals which had seriously deteriorated over time.

However, in the year 1998, authorities had to shut down the Petosiris and Petubastis’ tombs because the roofs were almost caving in. While reconstruction work has been concluded, the tombs are still not accessible to the public yet.

Updated On March 25, 2020