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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: The survey of Hisn al-Bab, Aswan, Egypt

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The site of Hisn al-Bab (‘fortress of the gateway’) marked the frontier between Egypt and Nubia between the fifth/sixth century AD until around the 12th century; it is located between the High and Low Dams at Aswan on the east bank of the Nile. The complex comprises two large fortresses superimposed one upon the other, the first probably a late Roman legionary fort for the garrison of Philae, and the second apparently of Nubian origin.

This later structure is almost certainly the same locale as that referred to as Al-Qasr (‘the Fort’) in medieval historical sources, as the site of the exchange of goods between Egypt and Nubia under the terms of the baqt treaty.

Nubian, fort at Hisn al-Bab
View of standing walls

This important archaeological site has been almost entirely overlooked, despite its dramatic character and a number of surveys undertaken in the area in response to dam-building activities. In January 2007, as a joint project with Dr Pamela Rose of Cambridge University, a historical and archaeological analysis of the fortified complex of Hisn al-Bab was undertaken, including a full total station survey; architectural, ceramic and archaeobotanical studies; and preliminary recording of structures in the immediate hinterland and wider surrounding area.

Related research groups

Classical and historical archaeology
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