BATHING WITH THE ROMANS
Since 2005, an expedition of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in cooperation with the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands) and Auckland University (New Zealand) has been working in Karanis, directed by Prof. Willeke Wendrich. This is part of the URU Fayum Project, a broader study of land and water use in the Fayum in relation to the development of agriculture over time. Under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities the project is also involved in preservation and presentation of the cultural heritage of its research area.
In 2014-2015, conservation was carried out in a small Roman-period bath in Karanis as part of the URU Fayum Project. The building had been excavated, carefully documented and studied, and consolidated in 1975 by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO). However, after almost 40 years of exposure to elements and lack of maintenance of the site, the ruins seriously deteriorated and were in serious danger of further accelerated decay and collapse. The objective of conservation work was to consolidate, protect and preserve the authentic historic material, without attempting to reconstruct what had been lost. After conservation, the bath was partially filled back with sand to protect the vulnerable parts of the structure. Funding is now sought for building a shelter over the ruin.
Conservation of the Roman Bath in Karanis was funded by a grant from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. Its institutional recipient was the Association for the Urban Development of Islamic Cairo, an Egyptian NGO. The work was carried out under the supervision of the Ministry of Antiquities as part of the URU Fayum Project.
The US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation also financed in 2013-2014 the creation of an open-air museum in Karanis, carried out by ARCHiNOS Architecture, and presenting Pharaonic-period material from Kiman Faris site.
The conservation was designed and carried out by Cairo-based architectural practice ARCHiNOS Architecture.
The project was directed by Agnieszka Dobrowolska, with Salem Imbarak as head conservator and Mahmud Badawi as site manager.
This website is part of the project funded by the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, and designed and produced by ARCHiNOS Architecture.
Photographs: Mahmud Badawi, Salem Imbarak, George Fakhry, Agnieszka Dobrowolska, Jaroslaw Dobrowolski, Hesham Akl.
3-D models and animations by Ahmed 'Abd al-Aziz and Ahmed Atiya 'Ali.
Web site design: Agnieszka Dobrowolska and Jaroslaw Dobrowolski. Graphic design: Agnieszka Dobrowolska.
Technical team: Ahmed 'Abd al-Aziz and Ahmed Atiya 'Ali.
Special thanks to Georges Castel and Thibaud Fournet for their help and encouragement.
Photographs of condition in 2012 by Anthony Cagle and Jason Quinlan, and the 3-D model based on 2012 photographs
appear courtesy of the URU Fayum Project, © URU Fayum Project.
Archival images of condition in 1975 by Georges Castel, © Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale.
For thousands of years the mighty crocodile-headed god Sobek was the protector of the Fayum and guardian of its people. In the Graeco-Roman times he became somewhat Hellenised and even fashionably took on Greek-sounding names, like Petsuchos and Soxis in Karanis, but he remained the protector of the oasis. Sobek will guide you on a journey back in time through the Roman bath in Karanis.