A little to the north of Qasr el-Zayyan, is the magnificent hilltop fortress of Qasr el-Ghueita which, like most of the other fortress sites, also contains a temple. The architectural elements appear to be similar to the fortress temple at Nadura. The Arabic name of the mudbrick Roman fortress means ‘fortress of the small garden’, evidence that it was once part of a thriving agricultural community.
Long before the Romans came to Egypt, this settlement was called Per-Ousekh and is thought to have existed from at least as early as the Middle Kingdom, when it was famous for its wine. Texts in the New Kingdom tombs of the nobles at Thebes describe the excellent quality of the grapes from the vineyards of Per-Ousekh. Grape-harvest scenes often accompany the desert hunt rather than other scenes of food production, perhaps suggesting that grapes were grown for wine in the desert oases in preference to the Nile Valley. Wine from the oases was favoured by the royal courts.
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