Gold was used by the pharaohs as a means of asserting their power. It was particularly abundant in the Eastern Desert area and Samut was a key gold mining district dating back to the Ptolemaic Period. However, the gold mining occurring in the region since the revolution of 2011, has had a destructive effect on the area’s heritage.
The district of Samut includes two main sites, the fortress of Bi’r Samut and North Samut. The fortress of Bi’r Samut has been threatened by garbage dumps and looting, and a big pit has been dug at the main entrance and the gate destroyed. These actions have been connected to recent and illegal activity of diggers looking for gold.
At North Samut, a mining company planning to reopen the mine was allowed to make deep boreholes to analyse the mineral content of the remaining quartz, causing a lot of damage to the area. Thus, this region is in danger of disappearing should it remain unprotected.
Source: Redon, B., and Faucher, T., ‘Gold mining in Early Ptolemaic Egypt’, Egyptian Archaeology The Bulletin of The Egypt Exploration Society, No. 46 (Spring 2015).