An Oasis City

256 pages

144 (128 color)

February, 2016

ISBN: 9781479889228



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Roger S. Bagnall is Professor of Ancient History and Leon Levy Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. He is author, co-author, and editor of many books including Egypt in Late Antiquity and Everyday Writing in the Graeco-Roman East.

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Nicola Aravecchia is Assistant Professor of Classics at Washington University in Saint Louis and field director of the 'Ain el-Gedida archaeological mission. He was co-author of Oasis City, also published by NYU Press and ISAW.

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Rafaella Cribiore is Professor of Classics at New York University. She is a specialist in ancient education and her work at Amheida has included study of the schoolroom excavated at the site. Before moving to NYU in 2008, Cribiore taught at Columbia University and in 2010 was the Townsend Lecturer at Cornell.

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Scattered through the vast expanse of stone and sand that makes up Egypt’s Western Desert are several oases. These islands of green in the midst of the Sahara owe their existence to springs and wells drawing on ancient aquifers. In antiquity, as today, they supported agricultural communities, going back to Neolithic times but expanding greatly in the millennium from the Saite pharaohs to the Roman emperors. New technologies of irrigation and transportation made the oases integral parts of an imperial economy.  
Amheida, ancient Trimithis, was one of those oasis communities. Located in the western part of the Dakhla Oasis, it was an important regional center, reaching a peak in the Roman period before being abandoned. Over the past decade, excavations at this well-preserved site have revealed its urban layout and brought to light houses, streets, a bath, a school, and a church. The only standing brick pyramid of the Roman period in Egypt has been restored. Wall-paintings, temple reliefs, pottery, and texts all contribute to give a lively sense of its political, religious, economic, and cultural life. This book presents these aspects of the city’s existence and its close ties to the Nile valley, by way of long desert roads, in an accessible and richly illustrated fashion. 


  • "[T]his is indeed a valuable contribution to the study of the history of the Oases of the Western Desert."

    Ancient Egypt Magazine

  • "Bagnall and his colleagues have performed a signal service in excavating Amheida so thoroughly and publishing their findings so meticulously."