Karanis Archaeological Site

Karanis Archaeological Site

Location: Faiyum Governorate Map


Karanis is an ancient archeological site situated in Kom Aushim settlement of Faiyum Governorate in Egypt. Karanis was probably in the 3rd century BC. Founded by Greek settlers under Ptolemy II. And abandoned at the end of the 5th century AD. While the ancient town had an almost urban character in terms of size, it was administratively a village, but probably represented a small regional center. The place has a special meaning for the archeology , since it is very well preserved. Some houses were still some floors high at their discovery. The dry climate of Egypt preserved numerous organic materials. Most of the finds date to the fourth and fifth centuries AD.

Karanis had two temples built in the Egyptian style of stone, the larger of the two is in the 1st century BC. There were two main roads that crossed the town and numerous smaller lanes next to it. The mudbrick houses were originally several stories high. Ceilings were wooden beams. To the street there were usually large windows. The interior walls were usually simply plastered and not further decorated. There were some painted niches depicting deities, apparently house shrines. There are partly preserved the wooden doors as well as the keys to lock them. Papyri indicates that usually several families lived in each house.

In the place were also several large granaries. A special feature are the once numerous dovecotes , of which five were largely preserved during their exposure. Since many of the dovecotes were built on the roofs of the houses, they inevitably collapsed first. Three of these towering dovecotes have a square base of 4.5 meters side, the only door opening in 3 meters height can only be reached via a ladder. Into the mud brick walls clay pipes were embedded as nesting places. In form and function, they correspond to the dovecotes, which are still found 2000 years later from the Nile delta to Nubia.

In the houses were partially still well-preserved furniture, such as tables or seats. Niches in the walls served as shelves. In general, the yield of all kinds of everyday objects, such as baskets , glasses, wooden tools, scraps of cloth, but also toys, in the excavations was very large. Numerous papyri give an insight into the lives of the inhabitants. From the years 171-175 AD, tax lists are preserved. But there were also private letters, contracts and population lists.

Karanis was excavated between 1924 and 1935 by the University of Michigan . Alone 45,000 found objects have been brought to Michigan. The rest remained in Egypt.