How the Egyptian Government Designed Settlements in the Desert to oversee Amethyst Mining

1-2pm (UK) / 3-4pm (Egypt) | This lecture will be recorded, register to be sent a video link

This Tuesday Spotlight lecture within our wider theme of Traversing the Nile, exploring the varied travel and trade networks along the Nile in both ancient and more recent history.

The design of a space is an essential element to the organization of productive work generated by the people using that space. Deep in Egypt's Eastern Desert, we see this principle in action at the fortified settlements of Site 5 and Site 9 at Wadi el-Hudi. These settlements have often been confused with fortresses because of elements from their designs, but fortification was not its main purpose. In it, administrators oversaw the quarrying and refining of amethyst in two of Ancient Egypt’s largest and most productive mines. Hundreds of workers, soldiers, scribes, and administrators used these structures for a variety of purposes, from basic living and storage needs to the administration of work and the dedication of monuments. This talk will present results from ongoing archaeological survey and excavation of the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition in Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Focusing on Sites 5 and 9, I will examine various architectural and archaeological nuances to elicit how Egyptian officials designed their spaces to maximize amethyst production through the organization of their workforces and work spaces. These principles of organization of administration can speak to the greater importance of architecture and design as means of control and productivity.


Kate Liszka is the Benson and Pamela Harer Fellow in Egyptology and Professor of History at California State University San Bernardino. Since 2014, she has directed the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition to the Eastern Desert, along with Bryan Kraemer and Meredith Brand. She received her PhD in 2012 in Egyptian Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania with her study of the Medjay. From 2012-2015, she was a Cotsen Fellow and member of the Society of Fellows at Princeton University. Liszka specializes in studies of Egyptian-Nubian relations, border zones, and the Egyptian administration. For more information about their archaeological work, see

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