DEFENSIVE FORTIFICATIONS IN BARIS OASIS, EL-KHARGA AT THE END OF THE 13th CENTURY H. (19th CENTURY A.D.): AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL STUDY
Document Type: Original article
Abo Rehab, M.
Assoc. Prof., Islamic Archaeology dept., Faculty of Arts, Assiute Univ., Egypt.
Numerous archaeological studies have investigated military buildings in different Egyptian cities throughout the Islamic Era as an important type of Islamic buildings. However, these studies have not taken into consideration the military buildings built in the Oasis of Egypt's West Desert, whose architectural history does not receive as much attention by ancient historians and modern researchers as other Egyptian cities such as Cairo and Alexandria or any other Egyptian city. Had it not been for the incidental dispersed references made by some geographers and historians to oases in the Islamic Era such as Al-Masoudi, Ibn Hawqal, Ibn Daqmaq and others, there would have been almost no news about these oases. All these references indicate the isolation of these oases from consecutive ruling authorities in Cairo and their weak position at that time. As a result of this isolation and neglect, the oases were exposed throughout the Islamic Era to a lot of attacks and raids by those who coveted their wealth. They were ruled by Al Abdoun of the barbaric Lowata tribe. They were invaded by the Nubians in the mid (4th century H. /10th century A.D.). They were attacked by Banu Sulaym at the end of the 11th century H. /17th century A.D. After that the Nubians came back and raided them in the early (13th century H. /19th century A.D.) Then, the oases, especially Paris, were attacked by Al-Darawish coming from the Sudan through Darb Al-Arba'in in (1311 H. /1893 A.D.). Therefore, during that period, a lot of defensive fortifications were constructed in this oasis, only five tawabi (plural of tabia meaning "fortresses") survived as they were the southern border of El-Kharga Oases and their first defense line against these attacks preventing them from penetrating into the north. This paper provides an accurate architectural documentation of the architecture of these tawabi which have not been investigated by any previous studies and of what remained of their architectural units and elements, especially that there are many factors which led to the deterioration of their architecture. The paper then makes a comparison between their planning and the planning of their contemporary counterparts which were constructed in other Egyptian cities, to highlight the similarities and differences between them on the one hand, and to have thorough knowledge of the design patterns of this kind of military buildings in Egypt at this time of its history on the other hand.
Defensive fortifications; Western Desert Oases; El-Kharga Oases; Baris Oasis; Fortresses; Tawabi
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