Qila Al Dabba

Ruins in Balat

Qila Al Dabba is Balat’s ancient necropolis. The five mastabas (mud-brick structures above tombs that were the basis for later pyramids), the largest of which stands more than 10m high, date back to the 6th dynasty. Four are ruined, but one has been restored and is open to the public. To get here, take the dirt track that meets the main road 200m east of Balat and head north. The necropolis is 3.5km along the road, past Ain Al Asil.

Originally all five mastabas would have been clad in fine limestone, with three thought to have belonged to important Old Kingdom governors of the oasis. If the mastaba is locked, the site guardian can usually be found in the nearby buildings.