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Where, oh where, is Ras el-Gisr?

 
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 3:44 am    Post subject: Where, oh where, is Ras el-Gisr? Reply with quote

Here's a question with which I'm hoping one (or more) of you can help me. We have in our Egyptian collection at the Field Museum a New Kingdom sarcophagus which the museum's database tells me was found at a place called Ras el-Gisr. I'm always trying to get a better handle on the provenance of some of the more popular pieces in our collection, but I admit to being absolutely stumped as to the location of Ras el-Gisr.

To complicate matters this sarcophagus may have contained its human remains at a typical New Kingdom necropolis like Thebes or Saqarra, but some 1500 years after the time the sarcophagus was made, the Romans conquered Egypt and snatched up this particular pink-granite receptacle, only to turn it into a bathtub (they drilled a drain hole at the head-end). So I suspect Ras el-Gisr is the location of some Roman settlement or villa.

I've querried Yahoo, Google, Lycos, and Ask Jeeves and have come up with nothing satisfactory. The closest I've come is to a satellite photo with crosshairs showing where this town (in this case spelled Gebel Ras el-Gisr) is located, but that's way too general. I want to be much more precise.

Any ideas, good people?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I found the same website with the crosshairs Very Happy

It mentions that Gebel Ras el Gisr is associated with Al Bahr al Ahmar. This is described as a mountainous area.

When I looked around, the only thing close to "Gisr" is the so called Gisr el-Musir. This is the "great enclosure" in the saqqara necropolis.

Quote:
Looking at an aerial photograph of the Saqqara necropolis, you can see many regular enclosed areas still buried beneath the seemingly barren desert. The largest of these areas is known as Gisr el-Mudir (Enclosure of the Boss), situated to the west of the Buried Pyramid of Sekhemkhet.


from http://www.egyptsites.co.uk/lower/saqqara/mudir/mudir.html

Any chance they got their Gisrs mixed up?

If the sarcophagus originally came from the Thebes/Saqqara region, then this may make sense.

There is the Monastery of Apa Jeremias near the Complex of Sekhemkhet and Zoser. Could that be where they turned the sarcophagus into a bathtub?? They used blocks quarried from tombs nearby to build their monastery, so they may have reused other objects as well?
The monastery is a Coptic monastery. I don't know when it was inhabited.

This is a total guess on my part. Cool
But somehow makes more sense than romans dragging a sarcophagus up into the mountains....
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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The monastery dates to the 5th century CE.
Would that even fit with the evidence?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any chance el-Gisr is el-Qasr?

http://www.egyptsites.co.uk/deserts/western/bahariya/qasr/qasr.html

Also see Qasr Muharib:
http://www.egyptsites.co.uk/deserts/western/bahariya/muharib/muharib.html

This is a Roman settlement from the right time period.

Again, a guess on my part. But like you said, there is nothing about any settlement at Ras el-Gisr. That made me wonder if the name was an error.
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we've found the answer. A fellow docent at the museum pitched in to help me and went to search the archives during some free time--something I always seem to lack.

Anyway, turns out that "Ras el-Gisr" is most likely an obscure placename of a location east of an old monastery in the Delta. That's where the sarcophagus was purchased (late 1800s), so there's no clue if that's even where it was found and excavated.

I would agree that it was originally part of a Theban or Saqarra burial (New Kingdom in date), and most likely the latter, given its proximity to the Delta. But the truth is, we'll simply never know for certain.

Thanks for all of your suggestions, anneke. You were very considerate and helpful.
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