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The fort at Bir Abraq Eastern Desert

The fort at Bir Abraq comprises a large enclosed area, on the summit of a hill, with a number of structures inside, among which this well preserved multi-room building. Both inside and outside the fort at Bir Abraq petroglyphs were discovered and copied. The petroglyphs outside the fort depict mainly cattle, those inside look more like tribal markings. The fort at Bir Abraq is in the far south of the Egyptian Eastern desert, just north of the Sudanese border. Surface pottery dated to the Ptolemaic period (ca. 330 - 30 BC), The function of the fort in Bir Abraq is somewhat enigmatic although the large number of petroglyphs, depicting cattle, camels and elephants, suggests that the fort somehow accommodated the transport of these animals. The fort of Abraq sits on a flat plateau, overlooking a large wadi along what seems to be the southernmost Ptolemaic trade route to the Red Sea coast. This massive fortress, over 160 meters wide, may have been built to protect a trade route; the nearby well was probably the main reason for the location of the stronghold. Pictographs and graffiti, which include gazelles, elephants, cows, camels, warriors on horseback, and Christian crosses cover large boulders and the wadi walls near the well. The fortress was built on a bluff that rises over fifty meters above the wadi floor. Where the bluff has a gentler slope, and is easier to climb , the outer defensive wall is over two meters thick and four meters high. In the center of the fortress, a natural rise of the rock facilitated construction of a citadel, some six meters above the level of the outer wall on the wadi side . This central building has twenty-eight rooms surrounding a large courtyard. Smaller buildings were constructed inside the outer southern wall, and at the southwestern corner a large tower once overlooked the entrance path to the fort. This path zigzags on the steep western side of the rock from the wadi floor to the entrance gate, close to the central building. Early travelers like the Frenchman Linant de Bellefonds, who visited the fort at Abraq in 1832, and the American Colston who saw it about twenty years later, considered the stronghold an elephant hunting station. It is, however, unlikely that elephants were hunted here in the Ptolemaic period, when environmental circumstances in this area closely resembled those of the present day. It is plausible that the elephants depicted near the well are memorials of travelers coming from the south.

source: zarzora.com

source: barnard.nl/desert/abraq.html

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