ARCE Lecture: Enigmatic Sites and Headless Nubians

Exploring the Eastern Desert of Late Roman Egypt

Colleen M. Darnell

University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, and Naugatuck Valley Community College

Scattered throughout the southeastern desert of Egypt are several late Roman sites, comprising clusters of dry-stone structures (often including more than a hundred separate buildings).  Similarities in architecture and ceramic material reveal a connection between these settlements, all of which appear to have flourished between 400 and 600 CE.  Often termed "enigmatic sites," the purpose or even the ethnic affiliations of their inhabitants remain sources of speculation.  New archaeological work and survey over the past seven years has revealed not only new examples of these settlements, but also exciting information about why these sites were built, and who might have built them.  

Colleen Manassa Darnell is an Adjunct Professor of Art History at several institutions in Connecticut, including the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, and Naugatuck Valley Community College.  She has published widely in the field of Egyptology, and her most recent books include Imagining the Past: Historical Fiction in New Kingdom Egypt and The Ancient Egyptian Netherworld Books (with John Coleman Darnell).  Her expedition, the Moalla Survey Project, continues to make discoveries in an ancient Egyptian provincial landscape.

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