Kharga Oasis Attractions
The Kharga Oasis, known to the ancient Egyptians as the Southern Oasis and to the Romans as the Great Oasis (Oasis Magna: "great" compared with Dakhla), lies in latitude 25° 26' north and longitude 30° 33' east, extending some 125mi/200km from north to south with a breadth of 12-30mi/20-50km. Like almost all the Egyptian oases, Kharga is surrounded by a fairly steep chain of hills (Cretaceous Iimestones), which rise in stages to a height of 1,410ft/ 430m. The lush green of the palm groves and walled fruit plantations makes an attractive and refreshing contrast with the ochre-yellow of the desert rocks.HistoryIn ancient times, thanks to the many springs emerging from clefts in the Cretaceous marls, Kharga was a region of great fertility with many towns and smaller settlements, the remains of which sometimes excellently preserved can still be seen. As an important staging point on the "caravan route of the forty days" from Asyut to the Sudanese oasis of Darfur it developed a lively economic and cultural life. In the medieval period, however no doubt because of a falling-off in the water-supply-the importance of the oasis was considerably reduced.In recent years the New Valley development program for the desert region between Kharga and Dakhla has been energetically pursued. The project also involves the oases of Bahriya and Farafra. Altogether an area of some 30,000 sq. miles/80,000 sq. km will be irrigated and made fertile by the drilling of wells to tap ground water at depths of 3,300-4,900ft/ 1,000-1,500m. The plans provide for the improvement of the infrastructure (road-building, airfield) and of living conditions and for the resettlement in the New Valley of families from the over populated Nile Valley. Impressive results have been achieved; but it is not yet certain whether the reserves of ground water, which were left by a former arm of the Nile in the Tertiary era and in this arid region are not supplemented to any significant extent by rainfall, will be sufficient in the longer term to transform the desert into a garden.The 15,000 inhabitants of the oasis, partly of Berber stock and partly incomers from Nubia, live from the produce of their large plantations of date palms (some 200,000 in number) and from the cultivation of fruit, rice, corn and vegetables. In recent years the extraction of phosphates in the northern part of the area has made an increasing contribution to the economy.
The Temple of Hibis, built between 521 and 468 B.C., stands in a palm grove. Excavation and restoration work was carried out between 1909 and 1911.
Qasr Dush, Baris, Egypt
In the extreme south of the Kharga Oasis lies the large village of Baris, southwest of which by way of El-Maks is Qasr Dush (ancient Cysis), with a large temple of the Roman Imperial period dedicated to Serapis and Isis. In the vicinity is another brick built temple.
Khams el-Dinei - Church
A few miles from Qasr Dush, at Khams el-Dinei, a fourth C. church has recently been excavated - the earliest securely dated church in Egypt.
Roughly in the middle of the oasis is the ruined Fort of Qasr el-Ghueida, near which, enclosed within a high brick wall, are numbers of small brick built houses and a red sandstone temple dedicated to the Theban deities Amun, Mut and Khons, with reliefs and inscriptions ranging in date from the 25th Dynasty to the Ptolemaic period.
Qasr Ain el-Sayyan
2.5mi/4km south of Qasr el-Ghueida is the ruined Fort of Qasr Ain el-Sayyan, with a temple of the Graeco-Roman period.