Qasr El Labekha Kharga Oasis information, tours, prices and online booking
Qasr El Labekha fortress and settlement lie in an isolated part of the desert. It is around 12km west of the main Asyut to El Kharga road. Moreover, it is approximately 50km north of the city itself. The site contains two temples, an imposing fort and a group of decorated tombs. The fortress of El Labekha constructed in a valley at the base of the northern escarpment. In fact, it served as a garrison. Strategically, it placed to guard the intersection of two important ancient caravan routes from the north and the west. Qasr El Labekha had an imposing sight, with mud brick walls 12m high and four massive round towers on its corners. In fact, it is similar in style but smaller than its neighboring fortress at El Deir,
The entrance on the eastern side gives access to the interior. In fact, it is today a chaos of crumbled walls and sand-filled remains of vaulted chambers. Several buildings once surrounded the fortress and to the south is the silted remains of a large well. It is an ancient spring still surrounded by palm, acacia and tamarisk trees. Moreover, it provided water for the fort and settlement. The size of the well probably suggests that a large community lived here. In fact, it served by a series of aqueducts, or qanats, built to take the water out to the cultivated fields. The fortress itself never been excavated, but the area below the western and southern walls recently been the subject of a study by the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
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In fact, it is together with the French Alpha Necropolis team. The team uncovered several small statues as well as large quantities of Roman pottery. Qasr El Labekha is also part of the current North Kharga Oasis Survey conducted by a French team of archaeologists. An impressive brick-built temple, situated to the north of the fortress. In fact, it constructed on a natural outcrop which dominates the valley. The temple, 12m square, contains three rooms and possibly dates from the 3rd century AD. The eastern wall is now collapsing, but there are entrances on the other three walls leading into the interior. On one of the plastered lintels there are remains of a depiction of a vulture goddess (Mut). Moreover, there are also some graffiti is inscribed on the sides of the arch.
A second more ruined temple located also in Qasr El Labekha area. In fact, it is to the north-west of the fort. Moreover, it only rediscovered during 1991-92 by Adel Hussein of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization. This temple completed during the reign of Antoninus Pius and still contains some of its original painting. The architecture of this temple is unusual and consists of a speos-like structure. Moreover, it partially built into the rock with extensive remains of a brick-built section to the front. There is recent evidence that the temple may dedicate to Hercules and later to a deified man named Piyris during the 3rd century AD. In fact, Hercules also had a temple in his name at Bahariya Oasis. The structure appears to be re-used as a Christian shrine. A limestone statue of a hawk, unearthed in the temple by the French Mission, is now in Kharga Museum.
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A number of cemeteries located in the Qasr El Labekha environs. The most impressive necropolis is in the area to the north of the fortress, dug into the western cliffs. It is where some of the most elaborate tombs in the oasis found. Many of the tombs were simple one-room chambers cut into the rock. Yet, there are also several multi-chambered and decorated tombs. They still contained mummified burials when investigated by Alpha Necropolis and the Supreme Council of Antiquities. It was during 1994 to 1997. Virtually all of the burials disturbed by thieves (some very recently). The team evaluated some 500 mummies and found that the majority enjoyed a good state of health and good quality embalming.
Some of the bodies of higher-status individuals covered with gilded face masks. In fact, they are similar in style to the Fayoum portraits. Many, especially the burials of women and children, contained jewels of bronze, glass and semi-precious stones. Mummy boards decorated with traditional paintings of Osiris. In many cases the richer tombs plastered and painted with religious symbols. Moreover, the burial equipment included large quantities of glass vessels. The less imposing tombs are located to the south and the west of the settlement.
How to get there:
The archaeological site of Qasr El Labekha are off to the west of the main Asyut to El Kharga road. While the former is accessible by normal vehicle, Qasr El Lubekha requires the use of 4×4 vehicle. Permission from the Antiquities Office in El Kharga must obtained before visiting these sites. Visits will be accompanied by an antiquities officer.