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Serabit el-Khadem

by Karl Mustafa

Lastminute-Express.de - Last Minute Reisen online

In Sinai, turquoise has already been found in the caves of the first kings of Egypt (~ 3300 BC). As a conclusion, there was trade already as early as that between the original inhabitants of Sinai and the people from the Nile. The ancient Egyptians were especially interested in copper and turquoise from Wadi Magaharah und Serabit el-Khadem.
As we know today, Sinai was a colony of the Egyptian empire in the Middle Kingdom around 1,500 years after the first slight trade connections to this peninsular. In those times, the colony was mainly used as supplier for resources and as a preparation region for a war against the western empires and tribes like the Hittites, Assyrians, etc. Probably a reason for the fact that there is only one temple area of the ancient Egyptians, which is the one in Serabit el-Khadem.
Therefore, from my point of view, this temple area should be one of the most interesting ones in Egypt. Here it becomes visible how the Egyptian architecture has adopted itself to the local situation.
The temple is almost perfectly embedded in the rocky landscape of the southwestern Sinai, close to Abu Zenima. When it became founded in the 12th dynasty (~ 1,800 BC) there was already a dynamic trade relationship. At that time, Serabit el-Khadem was the center for the mining of copper and turquoise.
This way, the main goddess was Hathor, the God of turquoise. From generation to generation, the temple was made more beautiful and larger. The last proven enlargements go back to the 20th dynasty, which means that it was built on that temple for almost 800 years. So, as an example, there is on the later main entrance each a stele from Ramses II and one from the god Seth.

Unlike in ordinary temples, the visitor is walking through a sequence of 14 perfectly cut blocks that form pier rooms and even a small pylon until reaching the central yard of the temple. On the other end of this yard there is the sanctum, the two culture grottos. In these grottos the images of gods were being adored, here Hathor and Sopdu. This part of the temple was accessible by the priests and the pharaoh only.

Also, in the neighboring mountains there is much to see. Here are the old mines for copper and turquoise. Walking through this area with open eyes might - with a little bit of luck - still show some old artifact from the time when this area was still a center for mining of copper and turquoise. An example could be fragments of albasta or clay vascular.

by Jean-Marc Mercier

Serabit el-Khadem was first excavated in 1905, by Flinders Petrie, an archaeologist from London. He discovered various royal and private sculptures, steles and sacrifice tools that go back to the time of king Snofru (4th Dynasty, ~ 2550 BC). Especially, these steles and inscriptions are important for archeologists, since they are significantly enriching our knowledge and our understanding about the expedition activities of the ancient Egyptians in this region. Those are the steles that are set next to another over a distance of more that 100 m and that we know from the photos so well.


Link recommendation: rabiebarakat



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