A SHORT HISTORY
Wadi Hammamat – Luxor’s ancient link to Asia
Until recently Marsa Alam was a sleepy fishing village, but the barren hinterland has a suprisingly interesting history.
There is plenty of evidence in the rock inscriptions and paintings that Stone Age man made in the surrounding mountains many thousands of years ago. The smooth rock was perfect for such work. This prehistoric art includes depictions of hunting scenes showing numerous animals including giraffes, ostriches and hunting dogs.
AND THE SILK ROAD TO ASIA
Graffiti from a later period can also be found in the towering smooth walls of Wadi Hammamat ( Valley of Baths ) which is closer to El Quseir, but still a not too distant excursion from Marsa Alam. These include graffiti dating from Pharaonic times, including drawings of reed boats which have been dated to 4000 BC.
Evidence suggests that the valley was the major trading route between ancient Thebes (Luxor) and the Red Sea and that crucially it provided a trading link via El Quseir, the Red Sea and the Silk Road between Thebes and Asia. Historians believe that ancient Egypt’s trade routes extended not just to Arabia, but as far as the Han Dynasty of China.
Biblical text also suggests that the Jews may have used the valley on their exodus from Egypt although there’s no other evidence to support this. However, we do know that the Romans later constructed watch towers and wells at regular intervals along the route.
Some rock inscriptions are 6000 years old.