Archaeologists predict Roman emerald mines may still be active and were mined by nomads as early as the 4th century AD.

Archaeologists from the Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona, ​​in conjunction with the Polish Center for Mediterranean Archeology of the University of Warsaw, conducted excavations of the Roman site of Sikait in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. And discovered many mysterious things.

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Excavation of the Roman site of Sikait

The area was known as “Mons Smaragdus” in Antiquity, as it was the only place in the Roman Empire where emeralds could be found.


The study found that the mines were still active under the control of the nomadic tribes of the Blemmyes as early as the 4th century AD and focuses on how emeralds were extracted and commercialized in antiquity, in addition to recorded rites of honor, the social organization of residents and workers, the type of mine, as well as details of mining methods.

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The late Roman period from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD saw corresponding excavations taking place and revealed that some buildings were occupied or even built by tribes of Blemmyes living in the area at the end of the 4th century AD.

The main shrine of Sikait has allowed archaeologists to document two perfectly preserved ceremonial sanctuaries, one of which contains the last votive offerings made intact between the 4th and 5th centuries AD. original.

The researchers also excavated a complex known as the Tripartite Building, which was probably used as a residence and as a storehouse for emeralds extracted from the mine.


“The discovery confirms the involvement of religion and local rituals in the late period, and this points to the exploitation of mines,” said Joan Oller Guzmán, lecturer in the UAB Department of Ancient and Medieval Studies. may have fallen into the hands of the Blemmy during this time before the fall of the Roman Empire”.

For the first time, archaeologists were able to conduct detailed topographical studies of two main mining sites, one of which includes hundreds of galleries and is more than 40 meters deep.

The survey also allowed them to determine how work is structured inside the mines: large-scale mining begins only after the most productive circuits are identified.

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These activities include logistics infrastructure such as small settlements, cemeteries, ramps, paths, work areas, and watchtowers. A demonstration of the complexity and intensity of the processes required to extract beryl, the mineral from which emeralds are obtained.

See more interesting things about archeology at the category Archeology

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