To add to the sci fi landscape of the Shali in Siwa Oasis, I must mention Gebel Al-Mawa or The Mountain of the Dead which I visited while I was in Egypt spring. This ancient Greek and Roman graveyard of Siwa is a hill where the soft sandstone rock is pockmarked with hundreds of holes that once housed tombs for the dead.
Over the years everything inside the tombs has disappeared leaving a cratered landscape on a hill and you can climb up to get a fantastic and windy panorama over the oasis. Any treasures have long since vanished at the hands of tomb-robbers although an old Siwa manuscript mentions a hidden tomb containing the treasury of King Khuaybish, the passage to which may be found through some long forgotten tomb.
I hope you enjoy the video below of the panorama from Gebel Al-Mawta or the Mountain of the dead in Siwa
We arrived in the late afternoon on our way to see the sunset from Fatnas Island, but found that because the ticket booth was closed for the day, we were unable to buy a ticket which would have allowed us a look inside some of the painted tombs that have been preserved. We had to come back the next day and the guide let us have a look inside, although I was not allowed to take any photos.
There are four tombs that unlike the rest are locked up and must be viewed with the guide. Inside you can find painted chambers with alcoves where the mummies of different family members would have been placed. The walls and ceilings were covered in paintings in ocre, red and cobalt blue, of the Ancient Egyptian Gods and Godesses and inscriptions about those who were buried within.
In more recent times, the empty tombs were used as shelters during the Second World War, when the German, British and Italian troops fought over this part of the Egyptian desert. You can easily visit Gebel al-Mawta on the edge of Siwa town and if you make a tour of the ancient monuments of Siwa, this will be included. I’d recommend coming with an English speaking guide who can tell you all about the Mountain of the dead, as there are no information signs.
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