Photo of the Dakhla Oasis showing the dramatic distinction between the grassy oasis and the sands and escarpment of the surrounding desert

© David Ratzan

Expanding the Ancient World Workshop

Ancient Environmental History: How Do You Build a Roman City in the Middle of Egypt’s Western Desert?

Organized by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

This workshop will take place in person at ISAW.

Registration is required at THIS LINK.

Expanding the Ancient World is a series of professional development workshops and online resources for teachers. Keyed to the NYC Department of Education Social Studies Scope and Sequence, this program is designed to offer K-12 educators opportunities to develop their knowledge of the ancient world and to provide classroom-ready strategies for teaching the past with reliable sources. Featuring inquiry-based workshops, flexible lesson plans, and up-to-date research, Expanding the Ancient World aims to equip teachers with information and skills that they can share with their students. CTLE credits will be offered to New York State teachers.

Ancient Trimithis was one of many medium-sized cities in the Roman Empire; but unlike most, it was located right in the middle of Egypt's inhospitable Western Desert, hundreds of kilometers from the Nile Valley, one of the driest places on earth. In this workshop we will explore how people adapted to and thrived in this harsh and changing environment by studying the results from NYU's Amheida Excavations in Egypt's Dakhla Oasis. After a brief introduction to the site and the excavations, we will practice asking and answering key questions about human interactions with the environment in the past through a mix of architectural, textual (inscriptions, papyri, and ostraca), and architectural evidence:

  • How did the environment affect the sort of houses and settlements people built?
  • How did people feed themselves in the middle of a desert?
  • Why did desert cities like Trimithis not only exist, but also grow and decline when they did?
  • Did humans change the environment in antiquity, or did adapting to the environment result in social and cultural transformations?

A starter bibliography will be provided, including some digital resources, for the NYU Amheida Excavations and Greco-Roman Egypt.

Workshop led by David Ratzan and Kechu Huang (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)

Participants will receive 1.5 CTLE hours.

Expanding the Ancient World is made possible by generous support from ISAW and an NYU Teaching Advancement Grant.

If you have any questions regarding the Expanding the Ancient World program please email .

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.