Everyone knows that the Nile is the lifeblood of the Nile and that all Egyptians live on the Nile. Well. Almost. Far off into the Sahara Desert away from the Nile is the Dakhla Oasis - it is one of seven oases in Egypt's Western Desert and is home to a number of ancient ruins where new discoveries are constantly being made. It is rarely visited by tourists.

The Dakhla Oasis is filled with ancient attractions and tells the tale of prehistory when the Sahara was green through rock art and markings of a prehistoric lake. There are ancient ruins, traditional mud-brick towns with narrow labyrinths alleys, and many ancient tombs with mummies to visit. Get away from the crowds of the Nile region and see the forgotten El-Muzzawaka Tombs filled with discarded mummies.

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What To Know Of the Dakhla Oasis

The Dakhla Oasis is situated off into the desert far away from the Nile - it is the farthest oasis from Cairo. In prehistoric times, there was a large lake there. The Sahara was once green, but as it dried and turned to desert people migrated out, but it is thought people persisted in the Dakhla Oasis. Neolithic rock paintings show that in prehistoric times the area of the lake was inhabited by buffaloes, elephants, and ostriches. Pharaonic power started to arrive there in around 2550 BC

  • Located: In Egypt's Western Desert
  • Oasis: One of Seven Oases In The Region

Dakhla Oasis is considered to be one of Egypt's most attractive oases with over 500 hot springs, many charming mud-brick homes, medieval ruins, and ancient ruins. It is set in a depression surrounded by pink cliffs and characterized by cultivated land of mulberry trees, date palms, figs, ad more. The oasis remains populated today with 14 settlements and a population of around 70,000 people.

  • Hot Springs: Over 500 Hot Springs (Probably Too Hot In The Desert To Enjoy Them)
  • Population: 70,000 People

Related: Egypt's Female Pharaoh: Do We Have The Mummy Of Hatshepsut?

El-Muzzawaka Tombs

One of the main (and more macabre) attractions in the oasis was the El-Muzzawaka Tombs - of which more are being discovered.

According to Altas Obscura, they used to be the star attraction of the greater Muzzawaka necropolis but for the last few years they have been closed off to the public for preservation purposes. Unfortunately, the fresh air and humidity of the breath of the visitors threaten the frescoes found in the mausolea.

  • Number of Tombs: Over 300 Tombs
  • Period: Mostly The Roman Period Of The 2nd Century
  • Unexcavated: Many of The Tombs Remain Unexcavated
  • Main Tombs: The Main Tombs with Frescos are Closed To The Public

Still visit one can visit several open rock-cut tombs that are littered with mummified corpses. There are so many mummies in Egypt, that these have just been left as they were found and are not considered of high archeological value.

The evidence varies from tomb to tomb. In some, one will find human bones strewn around the place - likely having been dug up by wild animals.

Go hiking around the tabletop mountain and see more skeletal remains littering the mountainside. The remains mostly date from Roman times and are mostly found clustered in family tombs.

Related: Visit Ötzi The Iceman: The World's Oldest Natural Mummy

Attractions, Ruins, And Recent Discoveries

Al-Kasr:

Al-Kasr was originally a Roman settlement which later on morphed into the medieval capital of Dakhla. Today the old town is a veritable labyrinth of mud-walled narrow alleys and homes with elaborately carved wooden lintels.

Deir el-Hagar:

Deir el-Hagar is a Roman sandstone temple whose ruins can be seen today. It was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero with decoration from Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. It was dedicated to the Theban triad (Amun-Ra, Mut, and Khonsu - was well as Seth).

Qasr ad-Dachla:

Qasr ad-Dachla is an Islamic fortified town built in the 12th century. It was constructed on the ruins of an earlier Roman fort and its buildings were up to four stories high. Some block used from the ancient Thoth temple and still bear hieroglyphs. The 21-meter-high minaret dates from around 924 AD.

Recent Discoveries:

Many discoveries are continuing to be made in the oasis. In 2018 the fossilized remains of a large dinosaur were found there, and in 2019 to more ancient tombs from the Roman times were also found there.

For a deep dive into the attractions of the Dakhla Oasis and its many attractions and options for tours to see and discover them, refer to Pharaoh's Tours or East Line Tours.