Hitan Rayan

An overview of Hitan Rayan looking east:
An overview of Hitan Rayan looking west:


Objective of visit:
To draw a measured plan of the site and study the surface remains (including the ceramic finds).
Date of visit:
  - January 1994
- January 1995
Fellow visitors:
  Prof.Dr. Steven Sidebotham (University of Delaware), Prof.Dr. Jim Harrell (University of Toledo), Eng. Fred Aldsworth (Berenike Project), Hagg Mansour and Hagg Selim (our Bedouin guides).
A survey was performed using a theodolite and steel tape measures. Off-site assistance was given by pottery expert Dr. Roberta Tomber (Museum of London). No excavations took place. A full publication of the results of our work can be found in F.G. Aldsworth and H. Barnard; "Survey of Hitan Rayan"; in: Sidebotham SE, Wendrich WZ. (eds.) Berenike 1995, Preliminary report of the excavations at Berenike (Egyptian Red Sea coast) and the survey of the Eastern desert (Leiden, CNWS, 1996); pp. 411-40 (ISBN 90-73782-70-8). The evidence was presented and discussed again in: S.E. Sidebotham, H. Barnard and G. Pyke; Five enigmatic late Roman settlements in the Eastern Desert; Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 2002; vol. 88: pp. 187-225.
Approximate position and date of the site:   Hitan Rayan is in the far south-east of the Egyptian Eastern desert, just west of Berenike. Surface pottery dated to the late Roman period (ca. 300 - 600 AD).
Short description of the site:   Hitan Rayan was a large settlement of simple huts in a dead-end wadi, far from any ancient roads, mines or quarries. Surface finds were limited to potsherds and the function of the settlement remains enigmatic.
Additional remarks:
The reason for the existence of Hitan Rayan might have been the hunting or gathering of yet unknown commodities or the temporary residence for political or religious refugees. Our work was sponsored by the Berenike Project and private donors.