Directly opposite the town of Edfu, the Wadi Abbad enters the Eastern Desert. This ancient route was once a main artery from the classical town of Contra Apollinopolis (modern Edfu) to the important Graeco-Roman emporium of Berenike (near modern Marsa Alam), which is now a deserted port on the Red Sea coast, named by Ptolemy II after his mother, Queen Berenike. But the Edfu to Red Sea route was also used by gold miners from the earliest times – the mines are said to be one of the major sources of wealth for Egyptian rulers since the Early Dynastic Period just as gold continued to be highly prized by their successors.
As the desert hills begin to rise out of the open landscape of Wadi Abbad, the modern tarmac road takes a turn into Wadi Kanais at around 50km from the Nile and from the village of el-Ridisya after which Kanais is often mistakenly named. First mentioned by Cailliaud, an explorer who visited the area in 1816, el-Kanais, (‘the chapel’) is the site of a rock-cut speos built by Seti I that was cut into the high cliff-face. It is also the site of an old watering station and a small well-preserved Roman fort.
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