Wadi el-Hudi

The Wadi el-Hudi is a wadi in Southern Egypt, in the Eastern Desert. Here were ancient quarries for amethyst. The Wadi el-Hudi is important in archaeology for its high number of rock inscriptions and stelae, mainly dating to the Middle Kingdom, as amethyst was especially popular in this period. The Wadi el-Hudi ends in the Nile valley a few kilometers north of Aswan and is coming there from the South-East. The ancient amethyst quarries are about 20 kilometres south-east from Aswan.[1]

The earliest datable inscriptions in the Wadi el-Hudi belong to king Mentuhotep IV who reigned around 2000 BC. in the 11th Dynasty. These are five texts dated to the first year of the king and clearly report the aim of the expedition as bringing amethyst.[2] Further inscriptions date to the 12th Dynasty under king Senusret I. One of them mentions the vizier Intefiqer, another one the high steward Hor.[3] The 12th Dynasty kings Amenemhat II, Senusret III and Amenemhat III are also attested with expeditions and inscriptions.[4] The last 12th Dynasty king sending an expedition to the Wadi was Amenemhat IV.[5] Finally there are several texts providing evidence for an expedition under the 13th Dynasty king Sobekhotep IV. His expedition is dated to the sixth year of his reign.[6] Hathor, who is called lady of amethyst, appears often in the inscriptions.

In addition to the inscriptions, 39 archaeological sites exist across the region. They are amazingly well preserved, with walls still standing two meters high. These archaeological sites have the key to understanding gem mining, organization of labor by the Egyptian government, use of slaves in Egypt, Egyptian and Nubian interactions, literacy levels within a soldiering class, governmental supply and support of expedition projects, and where much of the amethyst from the ancient Mediterranean World likely originated.

Further mining activities, including gold mining, are known from other periods of Egyptian history, up to the Roman Period,[7] or perhaps just the Early Arab Period.[8]

See also


  1. Ashraf I. Sadek: Wadi el-Hudi: The amethyst mining Inscriptions I, Text, Warminster 1980, ISBN 0-85668-162-8, p. 1, map 1, on p. 177
  2. Sadek: Wadi el-Hudi, pp. 4-15
  3. Sadek: Wadi el-Hudi, pp. 16-36, 84-92
  4. Sadek: Wadi el-Hudi, pp. 37-43, 93-97
  5. Sadek: Wadi el-Hudi, pp. 44-45
  6. Sadek: Wadi el-Hudi, pp. 46-52
  7. Ian Shaw: Late Roman Amethyst and old Mining at Wadi el-Hudi, in: Thomas Schneider and Kasia Szpakowska (eds.) Egyptian Stories A British Egyptological Tribute to Alan B. Lloyd on the Occasion of His Retirement, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 347, 2007, ISBN 978-3-934628-94-6, 141-150
  8. Klemm, Rosemarie; Klemm, Dietrich (2013). Gold and Gold Mining in Ancient Egypt and Nubia. Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 288–293. ISBN 9783642225079.

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