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Kharga Oasis

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Title: Kharga Oasis  
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Kharga Oasis

View of Kharga Oasis with the Temple of Hibis in the centre and the desert cliffs at the top
View of Kharga Oasis with the Temple of Hibis in the centre and the desert cliffs at the top
Kharga is located in Egypt
Location in Egypt
Country Egypt
Governorate New Valley
Elevation 32 m (105 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 67,700
Time zone EST (UTC+2)
Site of the Kharga Oasis in Egypt (lower center).

The Kharga Oasis (Egyptian Arabic: الخارجة el-Ḵarga  pronounced ), also romanized as Al-Kharijah, (meaning "the outer") is the southernmost of Egypt's five western oases. It is located in the Libyan Desert, about 200 km to the west of the Nile valley. "Kharga" or "El-Kharga" is also the name of a major town located in the oasis, the capital of New Valley Governorate.[1] The oasis, which was known as the 'Southern Oasis' to the Ancient Egyptians, is the largest of the oases in the Libyan desert of Egypt. It is in a depression about 160 km long and from 20 km to 80 km wide.[2] Its population is 67,700 (2012).


Kharga is the most modernized of Egypt's western oases. The main town is highly functional with all modern facilities, and virtually nothing left of old architecture. Although framed by the oasis, there is no oasis feeling to it; unlike all other oases in this part of Egypt. There is extensive thorn palm, acacia, buffalo thorn and jujube growth in the oasis surrounding the modern town of Kharga. Many remnant wildlife species inhabit this region.


Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot desert (BWh).

Climate data for Kharga
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 22.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 13.9
Average low °C (°F) 5.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 0

Darb el-Arba`īn caravan route

Map sheet showing Kharga Oasis.

A trade route called Darb el-Arba`īn (w:ar:درب الأربعين, "the Way of Forty") passed through Kharga in the south and Asyut in the north It was a long caravan route running north-south between Middle Egypt and the Sudan. It was used from as early as the Old Kingdom of Egypt for the transport and trade of gold, ivory, spices, wheat, animals and plants.[4] The maximum extent of Darb el-Arba`īn was northward from Kobbei in Darfur, 25 miles north of al-Fashir, passing through the desert, through Bir Natrum and Wadi Howar, and ending in Egypt.[5] All the oases have always been crossroads of caravan routes converging from the barren desert. In the case of Kharga, this is made particularly evident by the presence of a chain of fortresses that the Romans built to protect the Darb el-Arba`īn route. The forts vary in size and function, some being just small outposts, some guarding large settlements complete with cultivation. Some were installed where earlier settlements already existed, while others were probably started from scratch. All of them are made of mud bricks, but some also contain small stone temples with inscriptions on the walls.

Described by Herodotus as a road "traversed ... in forty days," by his time the route had already become an important land route facilitating trade between Nubia and Egypt.[6] The length of the journey is the reason for it being called Darb el-Arba`īn, the implication being "the forty-day road".[7]

As part of a caravan proceeding to W.G. Browne paused for several days at Kharga, leaving with the rest of the group 7 June 1793. At the time a gindi was stationed at Kharga, "belonging to Ibrahim-bey-el-kebir, to whom those villages appertain; and to [this official] is entrusted the management of what relates to the caravan during the time of its stay there."[8]

In 1930 the archaeologist, Gertrude Caton–Thompson, uncovered the palaeolithic history of Kharga.[9]


Native Khargans belong to the related Beja ethnic group. They speak Beja, their own Afro-Asiatic language, though Arabic is the dominant tongue.


A regular bus service connects the oasis to the other Western oases and to the rest of Egypt. A railway line Kharga - Qena (Nile Valley) - Port Safaga (Red Sea) has been in service since 1996.

Archaeological sites

The Al-Bagawat Christian cemetery at Kharga Oasis

The Temple of Hibis is a Saite-era temple founded by Psamtik II, which was erected largely ca. 500 BC. It is located about 2 kilometres north of modern Kharga, in a palm-grove.[10] There is a second 1st millennium BC temple in the southernmost part of the oasis at Dush.[11] An ancient Christian cemetery at Al-Bagawat also functioned at the Kharga Oasis from the 3rd to the 7th century AD. It is one of the earliest and best preserved Christian cemeteries in the ancient world.

The first list of sites is due to Ahmad Fakhri but serious archaeological work began in 1976 with Serge Sauneron, director of the Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale.

(with wikimedia image sub-categories under "Category:Kharga Oasis" of external link below)
  • Ain el-Beleida (Roman)
  • Ain el-Labakha (Roman)
  • Ain Manawir (Persian, Roman)
  • Ain Shams el-Din (Coptic church)
  • Ain el-Tarakwa (Roman)
  • Ain Tauleib (Roman)
  • Deir Mustafa Kashef (Coptic monastery)
  • Deir el-Munira (Roman)
  • Gabbanat el-Bagawat - Coptic cemetery
  • Gebel el-Teir (Rock inscriptions starting from prehistoric times)
  • El-Nadura (Roman)
  • Qasr el-Dabashiya (Roman)
  • Qasr Dush (Greco-Roman)
  • Qasr el-Ghuweita (Late Period)
  • Qasr el-Gibb (Roman)
  • Qasr el-Zayyan (Greco-Roman)
  • Sumeira (Roman)
  • Temple of Hibis (Persian - c. 500s BC.)
  • Umm el-Dabadib (Roman)
  • Umm Mawagir (Middle Kingdom, 2nd Intermediate Period)

Further reading

  • Frank Bliss: Artisanat et artisanat d’art dans les oasis du désert occidental égyptien. Frobenius-Institut, Köln, 1998.
  • Frank Bliss: Wirtschaftlicher und sozialer Wandel im „Neuen Tal“ Ägyptens. Über die Auswirkungen ägyptischer Regionalentwicklungspolitik in den Oasen der Westlichen Wüste. Bonn, 1989.
  • Dunand, Françoise; Ibrahim, Bahgat Ahmed; Hussein, Magdi (2008). Le matériel archéologique et les restes humains de la nécropole d'Aïn el-Labakha (oasis de Kharga) (in French). Cybèle.  


  1. ^ Ball, J. 1900. Kharga Oasis: its topography and geology. Survey Department, Public Works Ministry, Geological Survey Report 1899, Part II. Cairo: National Printing Department, 116 pp.
  2. ^ Introduction to Kharga Oasis
  3. ^ "Climate: Kharga - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Jobbins, Jenny. "The 40 days' nightmare," in Al-Ahram, 13–19 November 2003, Issue No. 664. Published in Cairo, Egypt.
  5. ^ Burr, J. Millard and Robert O. Collins, Darfur: The Long Road to Disaster, Markus Wiener Publishers: Princeton, 2006, ISBN 1-55876-405-4, pp. 6-7.
  6. ^ Smith, Dr. Stuart Tyson. Nubia: History, University of California Santa Barbara, Department of Anthropology, . Retrieved January 21, 2009.
  7. ^ Richardson, Dan; (1991). EGYPT: the Rough Guide. Harrap Colombus Ltd, Kent. Page ii.
  8. ^ Browne, Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria, from the years 1792 to 1798 (London, 1799), pp. 185
  9. ^ L. P. Kirwan, ‘Thompson, Gertrude Caton-(1888–1985)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  10. ^ "Egyptian Monuments: Hibis", accessed 28 November 2008
  11. ^ 22 February 2007Egyptology News"New Persian temple found at Kharga" , accessed 28 November 2008

External links

  • Wilford, John Noble (6 September 2010) "Desert Roads Lead to Discovery in Egypt" The New York Times
  • Information on the forts and archaeological work
  • Travel guide
  • (German) Khārga on Wikivoyage

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