Photo of a temple carved into a mountain with the Sikait Project in the bottom right corner.

Photo of the Large Temple, Sikait Project, 2021.

Emeralds from the Desert:

Challenges, Issues, and Successes of Emerald Mining in the Egyptian Eastern Desert in the Roman and Byzantine Periods

Joan Oller Guzmán

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

This lecture will take place online; a Zoom link will be provided via email to registered participants.

Registration is required at THIS LINK.

Joan Oller Guzmán has a PhD in Ancient History from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and is currently lecturer in this same university. His main line of research is related to the study of the territory and landscape in the Roman period, conducting different archaeological project on this subject in several areas of Spain (north of Barcelona, Catalan Pyrenees, Burgos, Ecija). Since 2016 he has directed the "Sikait Project" an archaeological concession in the Wadi el Gemal National Park (Eastern Desert of Egypt), an area corresponding to the ancient Smaragdos, that has as its main goal the study of the processes of extraction and commercialization of emeralds in Antiquity.

This presentation will offer an overview of the work conducted by the Sikait Project in the Wadi el Gemal National Park (Eastern Desert of Egypt) between the years 2018 and 2023. During five seasons, this project has tried to get a better understanding about how the mineral of beryl was extracted and traded. The analysis of this region, with special attention to the Wadi Sikait, has allowed a breakthrough concerning this subject. Thus, a large network of settlements and mining areas have been identified and documented in detail. Thanks to that work, we will be able to show several aspects, previously unknown, related to the extraction process, the infrastructures linked with the mining operations, the production recording systems or the ownership of the mines, offering and image of a complex productive region that flourished during more than six centuries in an extremely harsh environment.

Please check for event updates.

ISAW is committed to providing a positive and educational experience for all guests and participants who attend our public programming. We ask that all attendees follow the guidelines listed in our community standards policy.