CODEX Entry 3200: Siwa – Oasis


Slightly below sea level, between the Qattara Depression and the Great Sand Sea in the Western Desert, 50 km east of the Libyan border, and 500 km from Cairo is the settlement of Siwa. This isolated oasis was the home of the famous oracle of Ammon, and thus it was named the Oasis of Amun Ra. The necropolis on the small hill of Aghurmi, has been dated to the 7th Century BC. Heroditus indicated the worship was of the god Zeus and that the symbol was the ram¹. King Cambyses of Persia, son of Cyrus the Great and conqueror of Egypt, held a grudge against the oracle, because it had correctly predicted that his conquests in Africa would fail. In 524 BC he dispatched from Luxor a large army to destroy the Siwan oracle. The entire army vanished without a trace, buried in the seas of sand between Siwa and the inner-Egyptian oases.

Alexander the Great’s intention in visiting the oracle in 332 BC, was to consult the god, through the oracle, as Perseus and Heracles had done, and to trace his birth back to Ammon. The journey along the coast as far as Paraetonium was through deserted, though not waterless, country, for a distance of 280 kilometers according to Aristobulus. From there he turned inland where the road was deserted and without water. Much of the road and markers were covered with sand and so they became lost, with no mountains or trees to guide them. Following the flight of birds across the desert, and finally spotting some wild goats, Alexander completed the journey to Siwa with a cohort of 400 cavalry. The Oracle confirmed that Alexander was indeed descended from Amun Ra, and as such, was the legitimate ruler of Egypt².




¹ Herodotus, Histories, iv

² Arrian of Nicomedia, Anabasis 3.3-4