Monday, May 4, 2015

Mons Claudianus – a trip to the Roman quarries

The Arabian Desert between the Red Sea and the Nile is not only rich in sand but also in gems, gold, minerals and stones. Appreciated by the old Egyptians, the quarries supplied them with pillars, sarcophagus and other building material for the pyramids and temples and with gems for all the jewellery and decoration we still can admire.

The Romans as well resorted to these treasures and improved the art of quarrying. In Wadi Hammamat, between el Quesir and Quena, lies Mons Claudianus, allegedly the best preserved Roman settlement amongst several quarries.

No matter whether you’re standing aloft the fort or inside: whatever the visitor gets to see is simply fascinating: In the middle of the mountains, in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nothing and under the unforgiving blazing sun lie the ruins of the settlement. Apparently, Mons Claudianus was not just a simple temporary dwelling, but rather a luxurious home for well-paid craftsmen, who lacked for nothing. The one, who takes his time for a stroll between the laneways, will marvel even more: walls made by perfectly piled up stone slabs and well preserved mud bricks, water basins and bathtubs with steps, alcoves and water channels. Thousands of shards lie about – what was once stored inside?