Gebel Al Mawta

Archaeological Site in Siwa Oasis

This small hill, at the northern end of Siwa Town, is honeycombed with rock tombs peppered with wall paintings. Its name, Gebel Al Mawta, means 'Mountain of the Dead' and most of the tombs here date back to the 26th dynasty, Ptolemaic and Roman times. Only 1km from the centre of town, the tombs were used by the Siwans as shelters when the Italians bombed the oasis during WWII.

The best paintings are in the Tomb of Si Amun, where beautifully coloured reliefs portray the dead man – thought to be a wealthy Greek landowner or merchant – making offerings and praying to Egyptian gods. Also interesting are the unfinished Tomb of Mesu-Isis, with a beautiful depiction of cobras in red and blue above the entrance; the Tomb of Niperpathot, with inscriptions and crude drawings in the same reddish ink you can see on modern Siwan pottery; and finally the Tomb of the Crocodile, whose badly deteriorating wall paintings include a yellow crocodile representing the god Sobek.