Al-Ghuzza

This entry was written by Barbara Tratsaert.
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The al-Ghuzza settlement (also known as al-Guzzah, Wadi Ghāzzā, Ghozza, Wadi al-Ghuzza) is a Ptolemaic goldmine in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, which was later used as an early Roman road station.

1. Geography

Country: Egypt
Coordinates: 26°52’08”N-33°06’29”E

The settlement is situated off-road in Kainepolis (Qena)-Abu Sha’ar (N quarry road). The catchment area is affected by contact metamorphism from a nearly intrusion of granite magmas into a series of former graywackes, silt stone and conglomerate of the Hamamat formation making this area a typical environment for auriferous quartz mineralisation.

2. Generalities

It is suggested that the gold (dust) from neighbouring mines was processed here. Whether it was both crushing and washing or only washing is not clear unless excavation takes place. In due course this process had created an artificial raised island around the well upon which the Romans build their road station. It is still a point of discussion if al-Ghuzza was a part of the quarry network, as well as whether edifices of unknown function and long/narrow channels were used for drinking, washing, irrigation or gold washing.

3. History

3.1. New Kingdom period

A New Kingdom settlement was already situated in the location, but there is not enough surface evidence to determine its function.

3.2. Ptolemaic period

The settlement was a gold mine during the Ptolemaic period. Rotary querns were found and Meredith (1951) believes gold was crushed here as well. It has been suggested that the New Kingdom settlement was a mine reactivated during the Ptolemaic era (Klemms 2013).

It has a walled settlement of 150x50m with many structures, huts and a fort. The ore must have been mined from wadi workings as they are no veins visible. Remains of a long channel were found that can be associated with the well.

It is queried whether the water was used only for the process of washing, or also by inhabitations as a regular water supply. Another suggestion is that it might have been used for irrigation.

A large graveyard lies to the west of the settlement.

3.3. Roman period

The Romans used al-Ghuzza as a road station, just like they did in Semna, Abu Zawal and Hadrabia. A fort was built on top of the Ptolemaic period tailings. The well became incorporated in the fort, with a large courtyard and reused querns (Ptolemaic and two from the New Kingdom).

4. Hinterland sites

Abu Gerida; hafir (Well): Wadi Bakariya, Samut, Abu Midrik, Wadi Khashir, Rod el-Legah, Rod el-Boram, Bezah West, Bab el-Mukhenig, Deir al-Atrash, Wadi al-Qattar, Wadi Um Shegilat, Mons Claudianus, Abu Sha'ar

5. References

  • Barnard online [accessed February 2014].
  • R. Klemm and D. D. Klemm, Chronologischer Abrib der Antiken Goldgewinnung in der Ostwüste Ägyptens, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaölogischen Institutes Abteilung Kairo 50, Mainz am Rhein: Phillipp von Zabern, 1994, pp. 189–222: 219.
  • R. Klemm and D. D. Klemm, Gold and Gold mining in Ancient Egypt and Nubia. Geoarchaeology of the Ancient Gold Mining Sites in the Egyptian and Sudanese Eastern Deserts, Springer, 2013, p. 68-70.
  • D. Meredith, “The Roman Remains in the Eastern Desert of Egypt”, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 38, UK: Egyptian Exploration Society, 1951, pp. 94-111: 98.
  • S. E. Sidebotham, Berenike and the ancient maritime spice route, University of California Press, 2011, p. 88, 97.
  • S. E. Sidebotham, M. Hense, H. M. Nouwens, The Red Land. The illustrated archaeology of Egypt’s Eastern Desert, Cairo: American University Centre Press, 2008, p. 214, 224.