Explore Fayoum .. Where History Meets Nature

15 July 2022

The Major Heritage Sites in Fayoum

The natural heritage assets of a destination spot the environmental framework within which the tourist enjoys the destination. They are considered, along with the cultural heritage assets, the principal motivation for any destination appeal, however in the tourism context; they have a substantial capacity to attract tourists, regardless of any value added by service providers (Dwyer and Kim, 2003). 


The Major Natural Heritage Sites in Fayoum

The Fayoum destination is considered one of the richest Egyptian governorates in terms of natural heritage sites due to the variety of landscapes and can be widely used to create various activities for Ecotourism. Due to the abundance of these assets, two areas have been declared as protectorates: Qarun Lake and Wadi Rayan. The fertility of the region and variety of landscapes, from the geology to rural life and handicrafts to flora and fauna and finally deserts, lakes and natural springs are considered the major comparative advantage of the Fayoum region. 

The Major Natural Heritage Sites in Fayoum
The natural heritage assets of the Fayoum destination are plentiful and can produce excellent ecotourist experience through many superb ecotourism activities. These assets could be easily grouped into the following categories:

1. Geology and paleontology; 

2. Deserts and hills; 

3. Rural life and handicrafts; 

4. Flora and fauna; 

5. Lakes and waterways; and 

6. Natural springs. 

El Fayoum : Kom Aushim (Karanis), Dimai (Soknopaiounesos), Qasr Qarun (Dionysias), Batn I hrit (Theadelphia), Byahma-Medinet el Fayoum (Krokodilopolis or Arsinoe), Abgig-Hawara, Seila-Medient Madi (Narmouthis), tell Umm el-Breigat (tebtunis)

Valley of Whales Site Management 

Today, the Valley of Whales has been converted into a protected area directed by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) with indepth collaboration with the Italian-Egyptian cooperative program. Other major internal stakeholders sharing the site management are the Fayoum Tourist Authority (FTA) and Fayoum Tourism Development Authority (FTDA). The valley has also been enrolled in UNESCO's World Heritage List in July 2005 for its unique natural beauty and scientific importance which is considered an important step towards its conservation (Iskander, 2007).

Hawara archaeological site

located in the Fayoum governorate in Egypt, is without hesitation the most important site belongs to the Pharaonic 12th Dynasty in the whole country. In spite of the diversity of heritage assets and the authentic experience Hawara archaeological site could provide, the number of inbound tourists visiting it is minimal.

Egypt is bestowed with diverse archaeological assets which can be exploited in the field of tourism. This diversity can be clearly shown in the monuments of the Fayoum governorate which belong to all episodes of Egyptian civilization. Historically, the Fayoum has played an essential role in every culture that has swept through Egypt from the Ancient Egyptians to the Greeks and Romans to the Coptic Christians and finally the Muslim Arabs. However, the Pharaonic Middle Kingdom is exceptional; it literally represents the golden age of the Fayoum. Great prosperity came to the region and the lake, Mr-Wr 1 “the Great Sea” whose water level has drastically increased and it was enlarged artificially and expanded by the Nile through Yusuf Canal. The water was used to carryout drainage and land reclamation.

Hawara archaeological cemetery site, 9 km to the southwest of the Fayoum town, the capital of the Fayoum governorate, is considered the major Middle Kingdom site that belongs to the 12th Dynasty not only in the Fayoum governorate but also in the whole Egypt. The site lies at the desert edge north of the point where a branch of the Nile, Bahr Yusuf, enters the Fayoum depression.

The site, which was excavated since the Prussian expedition of Richard Lepsius in 1849 , contains an extensive cemeteries ranging from the Middle Kingdom till Roman times. Major monuments include the pyramid complex of Amenemhat III (the mudbrick pyramid and the Labyrinth), the famous Fayoum Portraits5 , tomb of Sobek Neferu6 , 30th-Dynasty tomb of Ankh Ruty; however, in this paper, the Middle Kingdom complex components of Amenemhat III

The name pyramid of Amenemhat III, which was built in the traditional 12th dynasty way, remains unknown48. It has a mud brick core and a casing of fine white limestone. The entrance was placed directly in the casing, on the south side of the pyramid, very close to the southeast corner. A descending corridor with a stairway led north. It was enclosed with limestone and provided with barriers and underground corridors that turned

several times around the pyramid‟s axis before finally reaching the burial chamber. Despite the fact that Amenemhat III built another brick pyramid at Dahshour, he seems to be buried at Hawara; a second burial place was prepared beside the coffin of the king to contain the body of his daughter Neferu Ptah until her own tomb had been completed. The burial chamber is exaggeratingly strengthened by the builders who followed several precautions. They dug a rectangular hole in the rock subsoil, lined it with limestone blocks, and thus formed the side walls of the burial chamber. Then they lowered into the hole a quartzite block weighing more than a hundred tons which completely filled the chamber. A rectangular hole was carved into that block to receive the quartzite sarcophagus decorated with niches. On the quartzite block rested three massive blocks of the same material, laid next to one another, as in the ceiling of a chamber. Moreover, the builders of the pyramid have considered extra strengthening over the flat ceiling of the burial chamber. A saddle vault of pented blocks of limestone weighing more than 50 tons has been constructed. Over them another massive mud brick vault about seven meters high has been built to resist the enormous pressure of the pyramid‟s mass. In spite of all these precautions robbers penetrated the burial chamber, plundered it and burned the king‟s inner wooden coffin. In the burial chamber, Pertie discovered the remains of a second wooden coffin and an alabaster alter bearing the name of Princess Neferuptah .

THE TOMB OF NEFERUPTAH

 It is situated two kilometres to the southeast of Hawara Pyramid. It was later given the form of a pyramid. Neferuptah pink granite sarcophagus has been discovered there in 1956 containing the remains of her body and of her rich funerary equipment, everything much perished by subsoil water except the objects made of stone and precious metals. It was initially thought that Neferuptah had been buried with her father due to the discovery of remains of a second wooden coffin and an alabaster alter bearing her name in the king‟s burial chamber, however, her name was found on the sarcophagus in the tomb southeast of the pyramid and was also on other objects from her burial equipment. The body itself was not found there, however, a few pieces of the mummy‟s binding were discovered on which microscopic remains of skin were found.

THE LABYRINTH Petrie excavated the ruins of an extensive and well-structured temple complex in front of the south side of the king‟s pyramid, probably the Labyrinth mentioned by ancient travelers, such as Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Pliny. According to Diodorus, Daedalus was so impressed by this monument during his journey through Egypt that he decided to build a labyrinth for Minos in Crete on the same model. In spite of frequent attempts, by Petrie, Michalowski, Lloyd and others to elicit the former aspect of the Labyrinth from the Greek descriptions, it remains difficult to reconcile the texts with the few surviving remains of the temple. Apparently, the construction of the temple was started by Amenemhat III, but several inscribed fragments record the name of the early deification of Amenemhat III, each successive king added his own monument to honor his great predecessor. The layout of the temple could not be precisely constructed because of the severe destruction; however, it probably consists of an inner part with sacrifice hall which was in the back part of the temple near the south side of the pyramid. In front of it was the complex of columned halls, columned courtyards, porticos, colonnades, chambers, and passageways. 

To the south lay another extensive open courtyard.  The unusual size of the Labyrinth (28 000 m2) indicates that it was not an ordinary temple. Strabo mentioned that the temple housed a number of halls as many as there were provinces (nomes) in Egypt (42 nomes) to house the major gods representing these nomes inside the temple each one in a separate chamber. Petrie has discovered the remains of limestone statues of two gods, Sobek and Hathor, in the halls supposed to have been honored by the deities of these provinces. During the excavation of the irrigation canal which cuts through the temple remains, a limestone statue of Amenemhat III has been uncovered. Eventually, the whole temple complex, the pyramid and a small north chapel were surrounded by a rectangular enclosure wall which is entered by a causeway like the valley temple. However most of this part has not been excavated yet.

Kom Aushim (Karanis)

From Archaeological point of view the necropolis of Karanis is a relatively unknown site, since it was only preserved in the excavators' preliminary reports. A rather terse account of the work was published by Grenfell and Hogarth, the early explorers of the site, but their report provided no evidence that enables us to identify the effective location of the tombs excavated, only stating that they are situated somewhere to the north of the town-sites, on the high ridges which rise at the ancient limit of cultivation.2 According to the British researchers there was no true archaeological interest in the tombs albeit for being a potential source of papyri. In their words the graves of the necropolis had been looted, but still return among others, written materials, through which it was possible to attribute the ancient toponym 'Karanis' to Kom Aushim .

Kom Aushim (Karanis)


Kom Aushim (Karanis)

Kom Aushim (Karanis)

Kom Aushim (Karanis)

Kom Aushim (Karanis)

Kom Aushim (Karanis)


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