Abu Zawal

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Cite this page: Barbara Tratsaert, “Abu Zawal”, Archiopedia / Αρχειοπαίδεια (Future date), p. 48 (revision #-), ISSN 2732-6012. DOI: To be assigned (entry under construction).

The al-Zawal settlement (also known as ‘Father/Place of Ghosts’ or Fatiri?) is a Ptolemaic goldmine (3rd-2nd c BC) in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, which was later (fourth- fifth century AD) used as an early Roman road station.

1. Geography

Country: Egypt
Coordinates: 26°52’08”N-33°06’29”E

The settlement is situated off-road in Kainepolis (Qena)-Abu Sha’ar (N quarry road).


2. Geology: mixed granite and metamorfe rock - quartz and jaspir veins.


3. Generalities

Gold mine during the Ptolemaic period and a road station in the Roman era similar to Semna, al-Ghuzza, Muweilha and Hadrabia.   It is thought that this settlement was also the centre for a group of mines, where the auriferous quartz dust was washed.  A similar setup is known from al-Ghuzza, Wadi Gidami and maybe Semna.  Can this site also be compared with the crushing centre found at Eredia?  It is thought that the gold from Hadrabia was washed here as well.  The continuous washing had created an artificial island near or around the well.  The tools found here are mainly saddle querns; of which many were reused by the Romans as building material for their road station.  No washing tables have been found so far, though the Klemms (2013) claim that they are buried under (a U-shaped) tailing heap. On top of these tailing a Roman road station was build with animal lines in the middle of the wadi.  Some remains of a dam build suggest attempts to prevent damage from the floods to the structure.  The Romans reinforced the well by building a wall around it.  Some remains of a conduit and shaduf are still visible.

3.1  Latin Inscription

A Latin Inscription was found between Fatiri and Abu Zawal (see Fatiri for more details).  The inscription refers to the presence of a procurator on site; 6 lines –

AD103-116. The names of Flavius Diadumenus as procurator Augusti, implying he was also procurator metallorum at the imperial quarry Mons Claudianus; coin

4. Hinterland sites: Wadi Hadrabia, Abu Gariya, Seyala, Bir al-Hammamat, Deir al-Atrash, Gerf, Fatireh al-Beida


4.1 Comparable sites:  Al-Aras, Wadi Abu Greiya, Fatireh, Um Huyut, al-Heita, al-Saqqia, Mons Claudianus


5. References

Meredith 1951: 101-2, 106, 110; Meredith 1954: 95; Lexikon der Ägyptologie 1977: 741; Tregenza 2004a: 39-47; Jackson 2002: 68; Hirt 2010: 24, 108; Sidebotham 2011: 88, 100, 109, 113, 131; Sidebotham et al. 2008: 304, 321-322; Klemm, Klemm 2013: 70-80; Treganza 2004a: 39-49; Murray 1925: 148