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Siwa Oasis

Title data

Serreli, Valentina ; Schiattarella, Valentina:
Siwa Oasis.
In: Oxford Bibliographies in "African Studies". (22 September 2021) .

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

The Siwa Oasis is located in Egypt’s Western Desert and lies about 50 kilometers east of the Libyan border and 300 kilometers south of the Mediterranean coast. The oasis has been renowned since ancient times for the presence of a temple, built during the Twenty-Sixth Pharaonic Dynasty (664–525 BCE), which hosted the oracle of the god Ammon and allegedly attracted the visit of Alexander the Great in 331 BCE. Apart from scattered descriptions, little is known about the history of Siwa in the Middle Ages. Archaeological and linguistic research has, however, yielded useful insights on the history of the oasis, on the movements of its inhabitants, and on their contacts with the wider world, while information about life in the oasis between the 18th and the 20th centuries can be found in numerous travel accounts composed mainly by European officials, geographers, and travelers and in a few anthropological studies. Siwa was formally brought under Egyptian control in 1820 by Muhammad Ali, but it remained strongly attached to Benghazi. During the 19th century, the Sanussiyya, an Islamic sufi order with headquarters in the neighboring oasis of Al-Jaghbub, acquired considerable political power, and it played an important role in the effective incorporation of Siwa into Egypt during the 19th and the 20th centuries. Today, Siwa and the smaller oasis of El-Gara, which lies about 100 km to the northeast, form a municipality within the Governorate of Marsa Matruh, with over 31,000 inhabitants (2019 official census by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics). The municipality hosts the easternmost Berber-speaking community, whose language, called Siwi, shares many linguistic features with the languages of Sokna and El Fogaha in Libya, partially also with the Zenati group, and which has been heavily influenced by Arabic. While the majority of the population of Siwa is Berber, the oasis is also home to a Bedouin community related to the Awlad Ali, the Shahibaat, as well as to a growing number of other Egyptian settlers. Currently the entire population of the oasis speaks Arabic as either a first or a second language. For centuries, the economy of the oasis relied almost exclusively on its natural and agricultural resources, specifically on its abundant spring water and date palms as well as the fine fruits from the latter, which are central to the life of the community. More recently, however, tourism and its corollary activities have gained considerable importance in Siwa’s economy, and they have contributed to redistributing wealth within the community and reshaping the landscape of the oasis.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: No
Keywords: Siwa Oasis; African Studies; Bibliography
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Junior Professor Arabic Studies > Junior Professor Arabic Studies - Juniorprof. Dr. Valentina Serreli
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Junior Professor Arabic Studies
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 000 Computer Science, information, general works > 010 Bibliography
300 Social sciences > 300 Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
300 Social sciences > 390 Customs, etiquette, folklore
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages
900 History and geography > 910 Geography, travel
900 History and geography > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499), archaeology
900 History and geography > 960 History of Africa
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2021 07:21
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2024 11:09