Sinai, turquoise has already been found in the
caves of the first kings of Egypt (~ 3300 BC). As a conclusion,
there was trade already as early as that between the original
inhabitants of Sinai and the people from the Nile. The ancient
Egyptians were especially interested in copper
and turquoise from Wadi Magaharah und
As we know today, Sinai was a colony of the Egyptian empire
in the Middle Kingdom around 1,500 years after
the first slight trade connections to this peninsular. In
those times, the colony was mainly used as supplier for resources
and as a preparation region for a war against the western
empires and tribes like the Hittites, Assyrians,
etc. Probably a reason for the fact that there is only
one temple area of the ancient Egyptians, which is
the one in Serabit el-Khadem.
from my point of view, this temple area should be one of
the most interesting ones in Egypt. Here it becomes visible
how the Egyptian architecture has adopted itself to the
The temple is almost perfectly embedded in the rocky landscape
of the southwestern Sinai, close to Abu Zenima.
When it became founded in the 12th dynasty
(~ 1,800 BC) there was already a dynamic trade relationship.
At that time, Serabit el-Khadem was the center for the mining
of copper and turquoise.
This way, the main goddess was Hathor, the
God of turquoise. From generation to generation,
the temple was made more beautiful and larger. The last
proven enlargements go back to the 20th dynasty,
which means that it was built on that temple for almost
800 years. So, as an example, there is on the later main
entrance each a stele from Ramses II and one
from the god Seth.
in ordinary temples, the visitor is walking through a sequence
of 14 perfectly cut blocks that form pier rooms
and even a small pylon until reaching the
central yard of the temple. On the other end of this yard
there is the sanctum, the two culture grottos.
In these grottos the images of gods were being
adored, here Hathor and Sopdu.
This part of the temple was accessible by the priests and
the pharaoh only.
in the neighboring mountains there is much
to see. Here are the old mines for copper and turquoise.
Walking through this area with open eyes might - with a
little bit of luck - still show some old artifact from the
time when this area was still a center for mining of copper
and turquoise. An example could be fragments of albasta
or clay vascular.
by Jean-Marc Mercier
el-Khadem was first excavated in 1905, by Flinders Petrie,
an archaeologist from London. He discovered various royal
and private sculptures, steles and sacrifice tools that go
back to the time of king Snofru (4th Dynasty,
~ 2550 BC). Especially, these steles and inscriptions are
important for archeologists, since they are significantly
enriching our knowledge and our understanding about the expedition
activities of the ancient Egyptians in this region. Those
are the steles that are set next to another over a distance
of more that 100 m and that we know from the photos so well.