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The Eastern Desert of Egypt during the Greco-Roman period: archaeological results

Le désert Oriental d'Égypte durant la période gréco-romaine : bilans archéologiques

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Published on Thursday, March 17, 2016 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

Between 1980 and 2015, American, British, ltalian and French teams explored or excavated hundreds of sites in the Eastern Desert of Egypt whose study has sigificantly improved our understanding of Ptolemaic and Byzantine gold mining, of imperial caves opened by the Raman emperors and of trade with Arabia and India through the ports of Myos Hormos and Berenike. The idea of this meeting is to expose the historical results of all the archaeological research in order to render it available to the wider public

Announcement

Argument

The Collège of France, the Mission archéologique du Désert Oriental, the centre Hisoma (CNRS , UMR 5189, Lyon) and the University of Delaware will organize an international conference to present the current state of archaeological research on the Eastern Desert of Egypt during Antiquity. This conference will be supported by the Labex transferS (ENS-Aoroc), the Iramat-CEB (CNRS, UMR 5060, Orléans), the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale in Cairo, the University of Delaware, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Fondation Hugot and l’Institut du Monde Arabe.

The Eastern Desert of Egypt occupies a vast area of mountains and sandy plains between the Nile and the Red Sea. Its natural resources: gold, gems and quality stones, such as granite, porphyry and bekhen, have attracted human activity despite the considerable difficulties due to the natural conditions. The pharaohs and Macedonian kings, then the Roman emperors, sent expeditions to extract these metals and stones. The desert also had routes for all types of trade with countries bordering the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. This trade first consisted of imports of elephants for use in the Ptolemaic army and then spices, aromatic resins and a wide range of exotic products including pearls, precious stones, clothes, etc.

The archaeological sites in this region were exceptionally well preserved until recently. Between 1980 and 2012, archaeologists were able to work in this area which hitherto had been practically inaccessible for logistical reasons. American, British, Italian and French teams explored or excavated hundreds of sites whose study has significantly improved our understanding of Ptolemaic and Byzantine gold mining, of imperial caves opened by the Roman emperors and of trade with Arabia and India through the ports of Myos Hormos and Berenike.

Now a phase of this research is over: during recent years many of these archaeological sites have been destroyed by gold searchers looking for treasures and it seems impossible to stop them. It is time firstly to denounce this situation and also to present the new information these excavations have brought to our understanding of the history of the Greco-Roman period and to the commercial relationships with the Far East.

The conference organized at Paris aims to gather and synthesize this burgeoning documentation. We will ask each participant to provide a synthesis of his/her work rather than a specialized study.

The idea is to expose the historical results of all the archaeological research in order to render it available to the wider public. For this reason the talks will be filmed and translated into English or French and will be published exclusively online in several languages, including English and French. The advantage of providing a multi-lingual online publication is that the main results can immediately be disseminated to the scientific community providing an additional bibliography to guide scholars and students towards more specialized papers.

Jean-Pierre Brun (Collège de France), Thomas Faucher (CNRS), Bérangère Redon (CNRS), Steven Sidebotham (University of Delaware).

Programme

30th March

9.30 : Accueil des participants

  • 10. L. Pantalacci, Coptos, porte du Désert Oriental
  • 10.30. Bérangère Redon, La prise en main du désert Oriental par les Lagides : nouvelles données archéologiques
  • 11. T. Faucher, L'or des Ptolémées : exploitation minière du désert Oriental
  • 11.30. H. Cuvigny, Des praesidia romains aux stathmoi ptolémaïques 

12-13.30 : Lunch

  • 13.30. J.-P. Brun, Chronologie des forts des routes de Myos Hormos et de Bérénice
  • 14. M. Reddé, L’architecture des praesidia du désert oriental d'Égypte 
  • 14.30  V. Maxfield, Imperial enterprise in the Red Sea Mountains: the quarries of Mons Claudianus and Mons Porphyrites
  • 15. A. Bülow-Jacobsen, Quarries with Subtitles

15.30-15.45 pause                                                

  • 15.45. W. Van Rengen, Mons Porphyrites et Myos Hormos : quelques problèmes topographiques et logistiques.
  • 16.15 I. Bragantini, The Italian Archaeological Mission in the Eastern Desert: first results from the area of Wadi Gasus.
  • 16.45. M. Leguilloux, L'exploitation des animaux sur les praesidia des routes de Myos Hormos et de Bérénice : alimentation, déplacements et ressources artisanales 
  • 17.15 M. Van der Veen, The food supply to Roman settlements in the Eastern Desert of Egypt – the botanical evidence 
  • 17.45 C. Bouchaud, Approvisionnement en combustible et bois dans le désert oriental

18.15-19 h : Debate 

31st March

  • 9.00 : L. Bender, The textile finds from Mons Claudianus, ‘Abu Sha’ar and other Roman sites in the Eastern Desert: what do we learn from them?
  • 9.30 : D. Cardon, Chiffons précieux – ce que nous disent les textiles des dépotoirs du désert Oriental d’Egypte
  • 10.00 : J. Peter and F. Wild, Textile Contrasts at Berenike

10.30-10.45 Pause café

  • 10.45 : J. Foster-Gates, Ptolemaic Pottery from the Eastern Desert: the view from Bir Samut
  • 11.15 : P. Ballet, Le Wadi Hammamat et ses mobiliers céramiques (Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 1987-1988). Contextes et chronologie 
  • 11.45 : R. Tomber, Pottery supply to the Eastern Desert: evidence from quarries, ports and roads

12.15-14 : Lunch

  • 14.00 : L. Blue, The Port of Myos Hormos and its relation to Indo-Roman trade
  • 14.30 : S. Sidebotham, Overview of Fieldwork at Berenike 1994-2015
  • 15.00 : I. Zych, Death in Berenike: the excavated evidence for burial practices in the Ptolemaic and Roman harbor on the Red Sea coast of Egypt
  • 15.30 M. Hense, The Great Temple of Berenike

16-16.15 pause

  • 16.15 : R. Ast, Berenike in Light of Inscriptions, Ostraka, and Papyri 
  • 16.45 : Carol Meyer, Gold mining in Byzantine times in the Eastern Desert
  • 17.15 : J. Gascou, Nouveautés documentaires et littéraires sur Clysma
  • 17.45 : J.-L. Fournet, Le désert oriental dans l'Antiquité tardive
  • 18.15-19 h : Debate 

Places

  • Salle 2 - 11 place marcelin Berthelot
    Paris, France (75005)

Date(s)

  • Wednesday, March 30, 2016
  • Thursday, March 31, 2016

Keywords

  • désert, or, commerce, carrière, exploitation, richesse

Contact(s)

  • Sandra Zanella
    courriel : sandra [dot] zanella [at] univ-montp3 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Sandra Zanella
    courriel : sandra [dot] zanella [at] univ-montp3 [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« The Eastern Desert of Egypt during the Greco-Roman period: archaeological results », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Thursday, March 17, 2016, https://calenda.org/359929

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