The very southernmost outpost of Kharga Oasis is marked by a Roman fortress known simply as el-Qasr (literally ‘the Fortress’), a mudbrick structure measuring about 30m by 20m. In Roman times a small garrison of troops would have guarded the fortress, but it is not known whether it was purely a military guard-post or if intended to control the trade route at the southern end of the Darb el-Arba’in. The structure is situated in a palm-grove on the eastern side of the paved road, but little is visible today. When it was excavated by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in the 1980s over 150 Ottoman tombs were discovered as well as a great deal of Roman pottery sherds, attesting to the age and continued use of the site.
Dush is situated about 15km north-east of el-Qasr, at a point where five ancient desert tracks met. One of the tracks, the Darb el-Dush, led over the treacherous desert escarpment to the Nile valley towns of Esna and Edfu, an important and heavily used route during Roman times. Surrounding the hill of Dush is the site of the ancient town of Kysis, one of the oldest Roman ruins in Kharga Oasis. Once a border town commanded by a large garrison of Roman troops, it contains a mudbrick fortress (Qasr Dush) and two temples. To the north and north-east of the fortress was an extensive necropolis zone where families of funeral workers plied their trade, attested by an archive of around fifty documents dating from AD 237 to AD 314.
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