Further information on the items displayed is available in the online catalogue
From the Sands of The Sahara
Ancient Kellis and Its Texts

Monash University Excavations at Ismant el-Kharab
Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt

An Exhibition of Photographs from the Department of Classics and Archaeology
and
Material from the Monash University Library Rare Books Collection
30 July - 2 October 1998


33

Picture

Left
View of the Main Temple before Excavation
This view, taken in 1991, looks north-east across the surface of the Main Temple to the North Tombs and shows the good preservation of the latter. The location of the temple is marked by a scatter of sandstone on the surface of a depression.

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Right
The forecourt of the Main Temple.
The excavation of the Main Temple commenced in 1991 with the clearance of the main doorway into the temple, its outer rooms and the forecourt.

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34

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35

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Left
The Main Temple looking East after excavation.
This view shows the poor state of preservation of the temple.

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Right
Double Gateway into the Inner Temple Enclosure.
Following the excavation of the Main Temple attention was turned to the other structures within the enclosure.

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37


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38

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Left
Classical Paintings in Shrine IV.
The walls of Shrine IV in the south-east corner of the Main Temple enclosure are completely covered with classical paintings.

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Right
Wells in the North-West Corner of the Main Temple Enclosure.
The water supply for use within the temple for offerings and ablutions was obtained from wells located in the north-west corner of the enclosure.

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40

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41

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Left
Western Section of Shrine I, the mamissi.
The size and elaboration of decoration of this shrine surpass that of the Main Temple, with which it is contemporary.

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42

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Left
Shrine I, West End of the South Wall.
Tutu is shown in the company of Tapshay (uper register) and Neith (lower register). The scenes have been vandalised in antiquity.

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Right
Shrine I, East Wall North of Doorway.
This view shows a detail of the classical wall paintings with the heads of females and birds.

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43

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44

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Left
Retrieval of Painted Plaster Fragments in Shrine I.
The collapse of Shrine I took place in two phases: first the vault and then the walls.

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45

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Above
The Emperor Pertinax Offering to Tapshay.
The emperor is shown wearing an elaborate composite crown and offering a sistrum (rattle) to the goddess Tapshay.

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Right
Bronze Figure of Tapshay.
This small bronze figure of the goddess carrying a sceptre and wearing her typical crown is the only three-dimensional representation of her known to date.

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46

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47

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48

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Top
The Side from a Shrine.
This piece, along with two other panels from the same shrine, was found hidden in a cupboard underneath several pottery vessels in one of the outer rooms of Shrine II. It carries two representations of Isis, one at upper right and the other at lower left, and one of her sister Nephthys.


Left
The Goddess Isis.
This painting of the goddess upon a wooden panel was part of a larger composition along with either two or three other panels, now missing.


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49

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Left
Burials in West Tomb 1.
While most of the superstructure of this unusual tomb has gone, eleven burials were found in the single burial chamber.

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50

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Left
The West Church.
This view, looking SE, shows the two rooms of this structure. It is identified as a church as it possesses an apse flanked by two side chambers and has a small altar in front of the apse.

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51

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Left
Two Burials Adjacent to the West Church.
Against the exterior of the east wall of the West Church, at its north end, in a corridor which separates the West Church from West Tomb 2, two graves were found.

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Right
The Large East Church.
This church is located within a complex on the SE edge of Area A at the end of a lane.

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52

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53

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Left
Crux Ansata.
Painted decoration in the Large East Church was restricted to the area of the apse.

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Right
The Floor of Room 6 in House 3.
House 3 is the largest of a block of three houses excavated on the northern edge of Area A.

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54
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55

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Left
House 4.
House 4 is located on the western edge of Area A close to Area D.

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Right
Colonnaded Hall in Area B Structure 1.
Area B is located to the north of Area A and contains three complexes of buildings plus other structures.



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56

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57

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Left
Graffiti in Structure 1 Area B.
In 1997 work was recommenced in this structure, again in the colonnaded hall, but now in its north-west corner. Further traces of wall paintings were recovered, with one panel preserving part of the bust of a helmeted figure.


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Right
Fragments of an Inscription.
Fragments from several inscriptions written upon papyrus were found in the Main Temple. One may have concerned the temple itself, though the poor state of preservation makes their translation difficult.

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58

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59

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Left
Books in situ in House 3.
Two intact wooden codices were found in sand above the floor of the kitchen of House 2 in Area A, they are the Kellis Agricultural Account Book and The Kellis Isocrates Codex.

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60

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Above Left
The Kellis Agricultural Account Book.
This comprises eight boards inscribed upon both sides.

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66

Picture

Above Right
Horoscope cast in 373.
This horoscope is inscribed on one side of a wooden board while on the other there is an economic text written in Coptic. There are errors in the dates given and in the astronomical and astrological data. The board was once part of a codex.

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62

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Left
The Kellis Isocrates Codex.
This contains orations by the fourth-century, Athenian orator Isocrates; they deal with matters relating to kingship. This version is the oldest surviving complete set of these speeches.


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Left
Economic Text written in Clay.
This inscribed clay tablet was found in the rubble which filled the double gateway into the Main Temple enclosure, and is the only to have been found in Egypt written in Greek.

Top right
Fragment of Homer
Shrine III in the Main Temple
This small fragment of a wooden board preserves verses 294-7 of chapter Xii of Homer's Iliad.
Other than the Isocrates Codex, this and the mythological ostrakon, 69, are the only literary texts which have been found at Kellis.

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67

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Bottom right
Mythological Ostrakon
Shrine II
This unique text relates the legend of Cygnes, son of Poseidon; unfortunately the inscription on one side is badly preserved which makes translation difficult.

71

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Left
Two Books from House 3.
These two wooden books were found tied together and embedded into the floor of Room 4 in House 3. They appear to have been made up from boards taken from different originals, the texts on all but one board are illegible.

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Right
Economic Text concerned with Weaving.
This text is written on the other side of the same board as 66. It was clearly used as a support for a piece of leather from which the sole of a sandal cut.


73

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74

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Left
Epistles of Mani.
Amongst the most important of the manichaean texts found at Kellis are substantial parts from the Epistles of mani, which are now in the process of being translated. The Kellis material preserves fragments of various sizes, here is illustrated one of the largest which comprises a bifolium.

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Right
Fragment from a Bilingual Text.
Mani wrote in Syriac, a West Semitic language. In order to disseminate his beliefs in Egypt it was necessary to translate his writings into the native language of Coptic.

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75

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77

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Left
Private Letter.
Numerous private letters were found in House 3 in various states of preservation and in different handwriting. The one illustrated here shows the state in which many are found. Several were still folded when found and the addresses written upon the outside.

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Maps

Also view location and area maps.