Desert Resources Contributed to Rise of Ancient Egyptian Civilisation

Archaeologists suggest that the natural raw materials transported from the Libyan Desert in the west, and the much smaller Arabian Desert in the east contributed to the rise of the Egyptian Civilisation.

Researchers from the Archaeological Museum in Poznań have been conducting a study of the various inscriptions, depictions, and symbols carved into the desert rock, covering a chronological timeline over a period of a thousand years in and around the Dakhla Oasis.

Such inscriptions indicate that caravans were sent on expeditions to transport raw materials across the vast deserts more than 5,000 years ago before the establishment of the Pharaonic state, and through into Pharaonic times to construct the giant monuments and tombs erected by the Ancient Egyptians.

One such site is a hill located south-west of the Dakhla Oasis, which contains various inscriptions indicating that caravans were sent by rulers such as Khufu, (the pharaoh who commissioned the famous Great Pyramid of Giza) in order to obtain the raw material known as ‘mephat’. Dr. Paweł Polkowski from the Archaeological Museum in Poznań said: “We suspect that it was one of the shales common in the area, rich in iron oxides, probably used to obtain a powder for red dyes, which in turn could be used to decorate tombs.”

- Advertisement -

The Pharaohs subjugated the inhabitants of the larger oases of the Western Desert – the Dakhla and Kharga during the Old Kingdom (at the time when the pyramids were erected), with the regions becoming a primary source of rare materials such as Libyan desert glass and copper.

In recent decades, archaeologists have discovered several places in the Libyan Desert that they refer to as stopping stations. It was a system of smaller (approx. every 30 km) and larger (approx. every 90 km) stops with stations supplying travellers with water and animal feed. These stations were used several thousand years ago and allowed communication between Dakhla and Jebel Uweinat.

Dr. Paweł Polkowski from the Archaeological Museum in Poznań said: “Copper used to manufacture tools, that was necessary to process stone blocks for the construction of temples and pyramids was obtained from the Sinai Peninsula or the distant Nubia, south of Egypt. Were it not for these materials and other resources, this civilisation would probably look very different”.


Header Image Credit : Paweł Polkowski

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is an award winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education and the BCA Medal of Honour.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2023

The field of archaeology has been continuously evolving in 2023, making significant strides in uncovering new historical findings, preserving cultural heritage, and employing innovative technologies to study the past.

War in Ukraine sees destruction of cultural heritage not witnessed since WW2

The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has resulted in a significant loss of human lives and the national and international displacement of many Ukrainian people.

Archaeologists find five Bronze Age axes in the forests of Kociewie

According to an announcement by the Pomeranian Provincial Conservator of Monuments, archaeologists have discovered five Bronze Age axes in Starogard Forest District, located in Kociewie, Poland.

Origins of English Christmas traditions

Christmas embodies a tapestry of ritual traditions and customs shared by many countries and cultures. Some hearken back to ancient times, while others represent more recent innovations.

Mosaic depicting lions found at ancient Prusias ad Hypium

Archaeologists have uncovered a mosaic depicting lions during excavations at ancient Prusias ad Hypium, located in modern-day Konuralp, Turkey.

Survey finds 18 km Maya sacbé using LiDAR

An archaeological survey conducted by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), has identified an 18 km sacbé linking the Maya cities of Uxmal and Kabah in the Puuc region of western Yucatan, Mexico.

Clusters of ancient qanats discovered in Diyala

An archaeological survey has identified three clusters of ancient qanats in the Diyala Province of Iraq.

16,800-year-old Palaeolithic dwelling found in La Garma cave

Archaeologists have discovered a 16,800-year-old Palaeolithic dwelling in the La Garma cave complex, located in the municipality of Ribamontán al Monte in Spain’s Cantabria province.