Henderson Building, 15th and Broadway
The Ptolemaic fortress at Bir Samut in Egypt’s Eastern Desert presents an extraordinary snapshot of the life of gold miners, travelers, traders and soldiers during the first century of Macedonian rule in Upper Egypt. Under excavation since 2014, this well-preserved frontier complex was devoted in part to the processing of gold ore mined from the Red Sea mountains and was part of a road network connecting the Nile Valley and the Red Sea coast. The daily life of individuals in this harsh desert is unusually accessible since the contents of the fort’s rooms have lain untouched since its abandonment in the last decades of the third century BCE. Bir Samut is helping to rewrite our narratives about the relationship between Greeks, Egyptians and the desert nomads of this mysterious region during the early years of the Ptolemaic age.