The Eastern Desert It is known since ancient times, pharaohs and Romans have used the porphyry, granite, limestone, and sandstone found in its mountains as building materials. It extends over an area of approximately 220,000 square kilometers bordered by the Nile valley in the west and the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez in the east. It extends along most of Egypt’s eastern border and merges into the Nubian Desert in the south. The Eastern Desert is very different from the Western Desert as it is relatively full of mountains and hills; it has a complex of irregular, sharply cut wadis that extend westward toward the Nile. Today most of the desert can be accessed by roads. Since Oil is produced in the north.
It is sparsely populated; most of its inhabitants are based around wells and springs. It lays with in the boundaries of the Red Sea governorate and there are some cities along the coast of the Red Sea that attracts a great number of tourists. These cities are Hurghada, Safaga, Qusir and Marsa Alam. Most of the inhabitants of theses cities are emigrants from all over Egypt looking for work in the field of tourism. There are a lot of historical and archeological sites hidden with hit its wadis such as:
Mons Porphyrites (Mountain of Porphyry) was an important Roman quarry complex near Gebel Abu Dukhan (Father of Smoke Mountain) in the heart of the Eastern Desert. For over three centuries, from 29 AD to 335 AD, an exquisite purple rock found nowhere else in the world called Imperial Porphyry was extracted for the glory of Roman emperors.
Mons Claudianus In the parched desert between the Red Sea and the Nile lies the fascinating ruin of a Roman settlement. For over two centuries, from 68 AD to 282 AD, Mons Claudianus used the surrounding mountains to produce high quality columns and building blocks of grey granite known as granodiorite for the sole purpose of beautifying imperial Rome. Today, you can witness these magnificent objects in the Pantheon, in Hadrian’s Villa and in the unfinished Temple of Venus.
Myos Hormos Two thousand years ago, Myos Hormos was the Roman Empire’s principal gateway to India and East Africa. Only recently have archaeologists been able to identify the exact location of this ancient port, just eight kilometers north of Quseir. During its peak period around 20 AD, reportedly 120 ships laden with wines, fine pottery, glass, precious metals and textiles set out each year from Myos Hromos to India. They brought back all kinds of luxury goods, including spices, medicines, silk, and pearls.
Wadi Hammamat About midway between Quseir and Qena is the legendary Wadi Hammamat. Through this valley runs an ancient road, the shortest from the Red Sea to the Nile. Hundreds of rock inscriptions adorn the wadi’s walls. Some drawings, like the ancient Egyptian reed boats, date back to 4000 BC.
Bir Umm Fawakhir A little to the north of Wadi Hammamat in the central part of the Eastern Desert lies a Byzantine gold mining settlement from the fifth and sixth century known today as Bir Umm Fawakhir.