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Article

F. B. Sear

Roman town on the coast of Libya, 64 km west of Tripoli, originally established as a Phoenician trading post. The most conspicuous surviving monument from this period is a 2nd-century bc tower tomb. In the Augustan period (27 bcad 14) a rectangular forum was laid out, which in the course of a century acquired a curia, basilica and several frontally planned temples. To the prosperous Antonine period (ad 138–93) belong the paving of the forum, the porticos of Corinthian columns with granite shafts and the extensive marbling of most of the temples, except that of Liber Pater, which dominates the east side. At the same time a new quarter of the town was laid out further to the east, dominated by the late 2nd-century ad Severan theatre (w. 92.6 m). As well as being the best preserved Roman theatre in North Africa, it is the most sophisticated in plan. It is chiefly remarkable for its three-tier ...

Article

Sais  

Nigel Strudwick

[anc. Zau; now Sā al-Hagar]

Capital city of Egypt in the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc). Situated in the western Delta, on the right bank of the Rosetta branch of the Nile, the site has never been systematically excavated. When visited by Jean-François Champollion in the early 19th century, enough remained for a plan to be drawn. He noted three cemeteries, one of which was enclosed by a wall and may have been that of the Saite kings. Inside this area was probably also the temple of Neith, the principal deity of Sais. In 1860 Auguste Mariette searched for the ruins of Sais, but it seems that he found nothing worth excavating at Sā al-Hagar.

The importance of the site and of the goddess Neith goes back to the beginning of Egyptian history. A representation of a small temple to the goddess, identified by her emblem of a pair of crossed arrows, is depicted on an ivory label discovered in the tomb of King ...

Article

Saqqara  

Christiane Zivie-Coche and Dominic Montserrat

Egyptian site on a desert plateau c. 20 km south of Cairo and just west of the ancient city of Memphis, which flourished as a necropolis and religious centre in the Dynastic, Late and Greco-Roman periods. In the Coptic period it continued in use as a monastic centre. The necropolis of Saqqara, which stretches for almost 8 km, forms the centre of the Memphite necropolis; its site is dominated by the Step Pyramid of the 3rd Dynasty king Djoser (see fig.). The monuments are divided into two groups, those of North Saqqara (see fig.) and those of South Saqqara.

Article

John Baines

(b Berlin, Oct 29, 1868; d Hessisch-Lichtenau, April 6, 1957).

German Egyptologist and writer. He studied Egyptology at Berlin University and began work in the Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin, before completing his doctorate in 1892. He remained in the museum all his working life, travelling principally for fieldwork in Egypt, which included seasons at Abu Ghurab, Abusir and Philae.

Schäfer was an outstanding historian and analyst of Egyptian art and made a vital contribution to the general theory of art. He published studies of individual works and made Egyptian art accessible to the public, as well as collaborating with Walter Andrae (1875–1956) on the standard history of Ancient Near Eastern art, Die Kunst des alten Orients. More important is his work on representation, on which he wrote many articles and smaller works, synthesizing his results in Von ägyptischer Kunst. The first two editions are concerned with two-dimensional representation, the third and fourth with two and three dimensions and with the general character of Egyptian art. The two-dimensional studies are the most important. Schäfer showed in detail how a non-perspectival system operates, and he examined Egyptian art primarily from the viewpoint of the ancient Egyptians themselves. He proposed two universal representational strategies, which he termed ‘pre-Greek’ (non-perspectival) and ‘Greek’ (incorporating foreshortening). His explanation of the character of ‘pre-Greek’ representation as based on mental images is not ultimately satisfactory, and there is still no convincing solution to this question, but his analysis of and insight into the problems remain fundamental....

Article

Sedrata  

Margaret Graves

Site of a settlement in the Sahara in the early Islamic period, near the modern-day Algerian city of Ouargla. Sedrata was briefly the capital of the Khariji sect in North Africa until it was destroyed in the 11th century.

In the 7th century, the Kharijites, a highly conservative opposition party that rejected both the succession of ‛Ali b. Abu Talib as well as that of his rivals, fled from persecution to the Maghrib. The Rustamid dynasty of Kharijites established their capital at Tahart (now in western Algeria), but fled from there to Sedrata in 909 when the Fatimids invaded. The Kharijites remained at Sedrata until it was destroyed in 1077; leaving Sedrata they took refuge in the oasis towns of the Mzab Valley in Central Algeria, where the Kharijite tradition has survived to the present day. The austere architectural tradition of these towns is rather hard to reconcile with the sophisticated and intricate stucco decoration found at Sedrata....

Article

Raphael Ventura

[Arab. Sarabīṭ al-Khādim]

Site of an Egyptian rock-cut sanctuary on a turquoise-bearing desert plateau in the south-western Sinai Peninsula. The evidence of Egyptian activity at Serabit el-Khadim (mainly associated with mining expeditions between the early 20th century bc and the late 12th) consists of 13 turquoise mines, parts of a temple of Hathor, 12th Dynasty free-standing stelae, rock-cut shrines, rock inscriptions and rough stone enclosures with single stelae.

The temple of Hathor was partly built and partly hewn out of local red sandstone and limestone. The earliest part, constructed in the 12th Dynasty (c. 1938–c. 1756 bc), is an artificial rectangular cave of uncertain function, with a single natural pillar at its centre and niches on the walls. Funerary inscriptions and cult scenes, still bearing traces of colouring, are carved on the walls and pillar. The rest of the temple consists of 12 decorated rooms in a row, starting from a massive pylon. They were constructed by a succession of New Kingdom pharaohs from ...

Article

Eve D’Ambra

[Silene]

Roman villa in Libya. The élite of the great city of Leptis Magna built villas along the Tripolitanian coast, and the Villa Sileen, near the village of Khums(Qums) is an excellent example of this type of domestic architecture in North Africa. Discovered in 1974, the villa was inhabited in the 2nd century ...

Article

Sinai  

Raphael Ventura, A. Dean McKenzie and Susan Pinto Madigan

Desert peninsula in Egypt, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Red Sea to the south, the Nile Delta to the west, and modern Israel to the east. Throughout the Dynastic period (c. 2925–30 bc) the ancient Egyptians built various settlements and shrines in Sinai, mainly in the vicinity of turquoise or copper mines. From later periods dates the important site of the fortified monastery of St Catherine (see §2 below), founded in the 6th century ad, which contains outstanding collections of Early Christian icons and manuscripts.

Raphael Ventura

Remains from the Dynastic period are concentrated at the northern coast and in the south-western (turquoise-bearing) region of Sinai (see fig.). The northern sites include settlements of the 1st Dynasty (c. 2925–c. 2775 bc), wayside camps and installations of the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), as well as larger settlements of the Late Period (...

Article

A. J. Mills

[Arab. Sīwa]

Area in Egypt, close to the Libyan border, which flourished from the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc) until Roman times. It was renowned throughout the Classical world as the seat of the oracle of Jupiter–Amun, particularly after the visit of Alexander the Great in 331 bc. The style of the monuments and their decoration shows the influence of pharaonic Egypt, despite strong connections with the desert peoples of North Africa and the Sahara. Of the many sites at the Siwa Oasis, three are of particular interest: the Temple of the Oracle of Amun, another Temple of Amun and a necropolis at Gebel el-Mawta. The Temple of the Oracle of Amun is situated on a bluff at Aghurmi and was excavated by Ahmed Fakhry in 1970–71; probably built during the reign of Amasis (570–526 bc), the plain limestone building has a moulding around the entrance and traces of relief decoration in the sanctuary. The other Temple of Amun, at ...

Article

Sohag  

C. Walters

[Sūhāg]

Chief town of the province of Sohag, Egypt, situated on the west bank of the River Nile, c. 490 km south of Cairo. To the west of the town are two 5th-century Coptic churches, known as the White Monastery (Dayr al-Abyad) and the Red Monastery (Dayr al-Ahmar). The White Monastery is the more important of the two. Although the surrounding area was investigated briefly by Petrie in 1907, further excavations were not undertaken until the late 1980s.

The White Monastery itself was founded in the first half of the 4th century ad. Its abbot between c. ad 388 and 446 was Shenute, one of the leading figures of the early monastic movement. The structure is enclosed by high walls of white limestone blocks and comprises a basilical church (35×75 m), probably founded c. ad 440, which is preceded by a western narthex, terminates in an eastern trefoil apse with a single, central altar and is flanked to the south by a long hall of unknown use. Galleries surmounted the hall and the basilica’s narthex and side aisles....

Article

Soleb  

R. G. Morkot

[Egyp. Haemmaat]

Site in northern Sudan of an ancient Egyptian town, including a temple and necropolis, dating to the mid-18th Dynasty (14th century bc). Soleb is situated on the west bank of the Nile, between the 2nd and 3rd cataracts.

A small town may have existed at Soleb from the reign of Tuthmosis III (c. 1479–c. 1426 bc), but the major monument is the temple built by Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc), which was dedicated to Amun-Re and to the king in a divine aspect (for illustration see Frith, Francis). The only Nubian temple larger than it was ‘temple 500’ at Gebel Barkal (Napata), enlarged by the 25th Dynasty kings (c. 750–c. 656 bc). The temple at Soleb is 103 m long from the rear wall to the main pylon, with a further 72 m (including the entrance porch, ...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

M’Hamed Fantar

[now Sbeïtla]

Tunisian site on the Roman road from Carthage to Thevestis, on a plateau on the west bank of a deep wadi. The original nucleus of 9 ha was divided into centuriations at the time of the Flavians (reg ad 69–96), the name of the new foundation being a diminutive form of Sufes, a castellum situated a journey stage to the north-east. With abundant springs, easily accessible quarries and farmland, it flourished in the 3rd and 4th centuries ad, covering an area of c. 50 ha and possessing a population of c. 10,000; its principal source of revenue was olive oil (many presses survive). There was a bishop as early as ad 256; despite the sack of the town by Arabs in ad 647 it continued to function until the 11th century.

Among the buildings visible today are the forum complex, with a monumental triple archway (ad 139) dedicated to Antoninus Pius, an enclosed square with colonnades on three sides and three temples on the fourth side dedicated to the Capitoline triad. The pseudo-dipteral prostyle temples stand on podia and are linked by small arches at the rear; the central temple is in the Composite order, while the flanking temples are Corinthian. Other notable monuments are the Arch of Diocletian (...

Article

Tanis  

D. A. Aston

[anc. Djane; now Ṣān al-Ḥagar, Egypt]

Capital city of Egypt in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1075–c. 750 bc). The main architectural feature of the city is the Temple of Amun, surrounded by mud-brick enclosure walls. The site, in the north-eastern Nile Delta, was excavated by Auguste Mariette (1830–60), Flinders Petrie (1883–6) and Pierre Montet (1929–51).

Between 1939 and 1945 Montet uncovered several subterranean royal tombs within the precincts of the Temple of Amun. These tombs were built of limestone and granite and engraved with mythological scenes on their interior walls. They are famous for the grave goods found inside them, which are now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. The burials of Psusennes I, Amenemope, Wendjebawendjed, Shoshenq II, Takelot I, Osorkon III and Harnakht reveal a high standard of elegant and artistic workmanship characteristic of the Third Intermediate Period. Foremost among these are the silver coffins and gold masks of Psusennes I and Shoshenq II and the gold, silver and bronze cult vessels of Psusennes and Amenemope (Cairo, Egyp. Mus.)....

Article

T. W. Potter

[Timgad]

Site of one of the most completely excavated Roman towns in North Africa (see fig.). It lies on the edge of a plain in Algeria, below the northern flanks of the Aures mountains, some 160 km from the Mediterranean coast. It stood at a nodal point in the road system: to the west lay the legionary fortress at Lambaesis, while to the east was the main route to Thevestis and Carthage. It was founded by Trajan in ad 100 as a colony for army veterans, the Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi, and built by soldiers stationed at Lambaesis. Although its plan is overwhelmingly military, there is little doubt that Thamugadi was intended to be a town, not a military base. Its square shape comprises a grid of 111 blocks, each 20 sq. m; most were subdivided into properties for the individual settlers, while a good number were given over to public buildings....

Article

William J. Murnane, Jean Lauffray, C. E. Loeben, Lanny Bell, Jadwiga Lipinska, C. A. Keller and Nigel Strudwick

[anc. Egyp. Waset; now al-Uqṣur, Luxor]

Site in Upper Egypt that flourished from c. 2100 bc until the end of the Dynastic period (c. 30 bc). Thebes was a favoured royal residence—although not always the national capital—and the home of the god Amun. The influence of Amun spread throughout Egypt and Nubia, and his cult remained the focus of Theban life and artistic achievements long after the city had lost its political significance.

William J. Murnane

Thebes (see fig.) first rose to prominence as the home territory of the kings of the 11th Dynasty (c. 2081–c. 1938 bc), who reunited Egypt after the disorder of the First Intermediate Period (c. 2150–c. 2008 bc). The 11th Dynasty probably originated in Armant, but they set up their capital at Thebes, where their presence is attested mainly by the mortuary complexes of the kings and their retainers on the west bank of the Nile—most notably that of Nebhepetre ...

Article

W. Eugene Kleinbauer

[now Tebessa]

Algerian town at the foot of the Tebessa mountains. It was probably the site of a pre-Roman settlement that became the residence of a Roman imperial legate and his legion in the late 1st century ad, when it was raised to the rank of colony and served as the capital of an administrative and estate district.

The Roman town is known to have had a forum, a theatre, an oval amphitheatre (c. 86×80 m), public baths and some unidentified public works; a temple and a four-sided triumphal arch (ad 214) are perfectly preserved. In the 3rd and 4th centuries the plain surrounding the town was the location of numerous fortified farms that continued in use into the 6th century and beyond. From the time of the synod of Carthage in 256 there was a Christian community and a bishop in Thevestis. Funeral epitaphs attest to Vandal occupation in the second half of the 5th century. After the Byzantine reconquest of North Africa in 533, however, the town gained in military importance and became a marketing centre. Although archaeological and epigraphic evidence indicates the continued presence of a Christian community in the 6th century when two churches were built, little is known of the town’s history until the numerous references to it by Arab geographers between the 11th and 14th centuries....

Article

Yvonne Harpur

Stone-built mastaba, built for the ancient Egyptian official Ty (fl c. 2380 bc), in the Old Kingdom cemetery north of the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara. Ty, the overseer of the sun temples of Neferirkare and Neuserre, served several 5th Dynasty kings, terminating his career within the most prolific period of tomb sculpture in the Saqqara necropolis. During the later Old Kingdom, Ty’s chapel reliefs were imitated by local sculptors and artists working in chapels in southern Egypt. Gradually, however, the superstructure was engulfed by sand and was thus preserved until its discovery in 1860 by the French archaeologist Auguste Mariette.

The tomb incorporates a multi-roomed chapel, burial shafts and a doorless serdab enclosing a life-size statue of the deceased (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., CG 20). The high walls of the chapel are decorated with raised reliefs (see fig.), many of which are delicately carved illustrations of outdoor activities (such as fishing, fowling and harvesting crops) and symbolic scenes, elaborated by hieroglyphic inscriptions. These are arranged in narrow, horizontal registers, usually before large representations of the tomb owner accompanied by his family or retinue. Some of the reliefs were left unpainted, but others retain traces of pigment, especially red-brown, black, green and yellow against a light ochre background wash. In every room the quality of sculpture is of a consistently high standard. Nevertheless, it is the sheer variety of detail in the scenes and inscriptions and the inventiveness of subject-matter and composition that have earned the chapel its reputation as a masterpiece of ancient Egyptian art....

Article

F. B. Sear

[Arab. Walīla]

Roman site in Morocco, 20 km north of Meknès. The town was inhabited from the 3rd century bc by a Libyophoenician (mixed Berber and Carthaginian) population. It grew rapidly in the mid-1st century ad when it became a municipium (free town) of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. Abandoned by the Romans in ad 280–85, Volubilis was briefly the capital of the Islamic Idrisid dynasty at the end of the 8th century ad. A forum was built during the reign of Nero ( ad 54–68), and by the end of the 1st century ad several insulae (apartment blocks) had been laid out around it. In the later 2nd century ad the urban grid was extended to the north-east, and a 3–km circuit of walls was built ( ad 168–9) enclosing an area of around 40 ha. The forum was completely reconstructed at the time of Septimius Severus (...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

( Kyrle )

(b London, Oct 13, 1897; d Sharon, CT, April 18, 1986).

American archaeologist, curator and collector . Trained as an artist at the Slade School, University College, London, in 1920 he joined the graphic section of the Egyptian Expedition to Thebes, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. During the 1920s and 1930s Wilkinson painted facsimiles of Egyptian tomb paintings in the museum collection, and he joined museum excavations in the Kharga Oasis (Egypt) and Qasr-i Abu Nasr and Nishapur (Iran). Transferred to the curatorial staff of the museum in 1947, he became curator in 1956 of the new Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, which merged with the Department of Islamic Art in 1957. Through his energetic collaboration on major excavations at Hasanlu, Nimrud and Nippur, Wilkinson greatly expanded the Ancient Near Eastern collections at the Metropolitan Museum. After his retirement from the museum in 1963, he taught Islamic art at Columbia University and was Hagop Kevorkian Curator of Middle Eastern Art and Archaeology at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (...