Maghara “Wadi Maghara”


View for the Wadi Maghara valley

Wadi Maghara is located just east of the Gulf of Suez, about 19km from the coast. Archeologists have so far not comprehensively studied this site. Explored by ancient Egyptian expeditions, mining for copper, malachite and turquoise, Wadi Maghara is especially important, as it bears the oldest evidence of Egyptian activity in South Sinai.


Old Kingdom inscriptions at Wadi Maghara, which date back to as early as the Third Dynasty (2650–2575 B.C.), commemorate the work of mining expeditions starting from the reigns of the Pharaohs Sanakht, Djoser and Sekhemkeht. Other inscriptions cite the names of later Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom, such as Snefru, Khufu, Sahure, Neuserra, Menkaure and Djedkara Isesi, attesting the exploitation of the mines of Wadi Maghara between the Fourth and Sixth Dynasties. The Old Kingdom inscriptions in Wadi Maghara mostly illustrate the Pharaohs, together with various deities, smiting enemies. These inscriptions, all done in bas-relief, can be categorized in three main types; royal inscriptions accompanied by scenes or figures, royal inscriptions without scenes or figures, and private inscriptions with or without scenes or figures, including all other unofficial records. Already in 1906, it was noted that modern expeditions to the mines in Wadi Maghara caused the destruction of Old Kingdom inscriptions with the names of Snefru, Khufu, and Sahure, among others.

Mining activities in Wadi Maghara during the Middle Kingdom are well attested by inscriptions, dating mainly to the reigns of the Pharaohs Amenemhat III and Amenemhat IV (1855–1795 B.C.) which testify to the arrival of the mining expeditions. Two hieratic graffiti, from the Middle Kingdom, were found in Wadi Maghara and a Twelfth Dynasty stele is found to the north of the site. Another, New Kingdom, inscription bearing the name of Ramesses II has been reported. Near the mining sectors of Wadi Maghara, there are some ancient settlement areas that were most probably used by the miners. These areas produced pottery and many of the tools they used to extract the minerals.