Wadi Sikait

Area: Eastern Desert - Governorate of the Red Sea (Egypt)

Chronology: Early Roman – Byzantine Period

Promoter: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Campaigns: January 2018

The Wadi Sikait site is located in the Egyptian Eastern Desert, 45 km from the Red Sea coast and close to the city of Marsa Alam. It is an extensive settlement made up of 200 visible structures that are divided in two areas by the Wadi Sikait. It is a settlement created for the exploit-ation of the mineral of beryl, which in its green variant is known as "emerald". It is located in a region that roughly coincides with the Wadi Gemal Natural Park and which in ancient times was known as "Mons Smaragdus", famous for being the only area for obtaining emeralds in the Roman Empire. The chronology would be centred on the Roman Imperial period (1st-6th century AD), although it is quite likely that there was an exploitation at the Ptolemaic time and a continuity in the Islamic period. Regarding the structures, these stand out for the high degree of preservation with buildings with walls of up to three and four meters in height. The majority would be domestic structures (on the wadi floor) or productive buildings destined for the extraction of beryl (on the slopes). There are some remarkable structures for their dimensions identified as productive complexes, two rock-cut temples, a huge terraced sanctuary, watchtowers and a necropolis. The site is being excavated by the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona within the framework of the "Sikait Project", in collaboration with other institutions such as the University of Delaware, the Polish Center of Mediterranean Archaeology and with the funding of the PALARQ Foundation.