Egypt Exploration Fund   [Hrsg.]
Archaeological report: comprising the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the progress of egyptology during the year ... — 1896-1897

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Egypt Exploration Fund.

railway-station on the Nile, and are just inside the desert, separated on
the east from the Bahr Yusuf by a narrow strip of cultivation. At a
point some fifteen miles to the north the Libyan hills recede far back
into the desert, and, not returning until far above Behneseh, form a bay
like the entrance to the Hammamat Valley at Koptos, so that to the west
of Oxyrhynchus there is a broad flat plain stretching for six miles up to a
series of low basalt hills, through which runs the road to the small oasis
of Balmy eh.

The area of the ancient town is 1| miles long, and in most parts
5- mile broad, its modern representative, Behneseh, still occupying a
small fraction of it on the east side. Though now consisting only of
a few squalid huts and four picturesque but dilapidated mosques, it was
an important place until mediaeval times, and all the debris near the
village, amounting to nearly half the whole site, is strewn with Arabic
pottery. Its decline is doubtless due to its unprotected situation on the
desert side of the Bahr Yusuf, which renders it exposed to frequent
nocturnal raids by the Bedawiu, who have settled in large numbers
along this part of the desert edge. One of these raids took place while
we were there, and an unsuccessful attempt was made to get into our
hut. Though an application addressed to Cairo resulted in measures
being promptly taken to prevent our being troubled again, it is
hardly surprising that the Behneseh fellaMn are gradually migrating
to the rising village of Sandafeh on the opposite bank of the Bahr

Behneseh has, however, still a claim to distinction in its Arabic
cemetery, the largest in the district, and a place of peculiar sanctity,
owing to the number of sheJchs buried there, including a local saint of
much repute, Dalmiri, whose tomb is a conspicuous object miles
off in the desert plain to the west. Numbers of these domed tombs arc
scattered about, chiefly on eminences, in the central part of the site,
many of them containing ancient columns taken from the town ; and
most of the Arabic mounds immediately to the west and south-west of
the village have been used for purposes of burial.

My first impressions on examining the site were not very favourable.
As has been said, about half of it was Arabic; and, with regard to the
other half, a thousand years' use as a quarry for limestone and bricks
had clearly reduced the buildings and houses to utter ruin. In many
parts of the site which had not been used as a depository for rubbish,
especially to the north-west, lines of limestone chips or banks of sand
marked the positions of buildings of which the walls had been dug out;
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