Oasis of Siwa
Map of Siwa
The oasis of Siwa (Arabic: واحة سيوة Wāḥat Sīwah IPA: [wćːħet siːwæ] Berber languages: Isiwan ⵉⵙⵉⵡⴰⵏ) is an urban oasis in Egypt between the Qattara depression and the great sea of sand in the western desert about 50 km (30 mi) east of the Libyan border and 560 km (348 mi) from Cairo.    80 km long and 20 km wide  the oasis of Siwa is one of the most isolated colonies in Egypt with about 33 000 inhabitants  mainly Berbers  who developed a unique culture. and a language distinct from the Berber family called Siwi. 
Its fame resides primarily in its former role as home to an oracle of Ammon whose ruins are a popular tourist attraction that has given the oasis its old name Oasis of Amon Ra. Historically it is part of ancient Libya.
The ancient Egyptian name of the oasis was Sekht-am which meant "land of palms". The first Arab geographers called it Santariyyah.
Its modern name Siwa appeared in the 15th century; the etymology of the word is not clear. Basset connects it to a Berber tribal name attested further to the west at the beginning of the Islamic period  while Ilahiane  after Chafik relates it to the Berber word Tašlḥiyt a type of bird of prey and so to Amon. -Ra one of whose symbols was the hawk. 
The oasis of Siwa is vast extending beyond the horizon
Site of the Siwa Oasis in Egypt (top left)
Last wall standing at the Temple of Amon at Umm \'Ubeida
Although it is known that the oasis has been established since at least the 10th millennium BCE the first evidence of any connection with ancient Egypt is the 26th dynasty when a necropolis was established. The ancient Greek settlers of Cyrene came into contact with the oasis at the same time (seventh century BC) and the temple oracle of Amon (Greek: Zeus Ammon) which according to Herodotus took image of a ram. Herodotus knew a "fountain of the sun" which was the coldest in the heat of the south . During his campaign to conquer the Persian Empire Alexander the Great reached the oasis supposedly following birds through the desert. The oracle claimed the historians of Alexander\'s court confirmed him both as a divine person and the legitimate Pharaoh of Egypt although the motives of Alexander after his foundation in Alexandria remain somewhat impenetrable and contested . During the Ptolemaic Kingdom its ancient Egyptian name was sḫt-ỉm3w meaning "field of trees". 
The evidence of Christianity in Siwa is uncertain but in 708 the Siwans resisted an Islamic army and probably did not convert until the 12th century. A local manuscript mentions only seven families totaling 40 men living at the oasis in 1203.
In the 12th century Al-Idrisi mentions it as inhabited mainly by the Berbers with an Arab minority; a century before Al-Bakri said that only Berbers lived there. The Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi visited Siwa in the 15th century and described how the language spoken there "is similar to the language of Zenata". 
The first European to visit since Roman times was the English traveler William George Browne who came in 1792 to see the ancient temple of the Oracle of Amon. 
The oasis was officially annexed to Egypt\'s Eyalet by Muhammad Ali of Egypt in 1819. In the spring of 1893 German explorer and photographer Hermann Burchardt took photographs of the city\'s architecture. Siwa now stored at the Ethnological Museum of Berlin. 
Siwans are a Berber people so demographically and culturally they were more closely related to neighboring Libya which has a large Berber population than to Egypt which has a negligible Berber population. [Citation needed] Therefore the distant Cairo Arab rule was initially tenuous and marked by several revolts. Egypt began to reinforce its control after a visit to the Oasis in 1928 by King Fuad I who reprimanded the locals for "a certain vice" and specified punishments to bring Siwan\'s behavior to Egyptian morality. (see next section).
Siwa was also the site of some fighting during the First World War and World War II. The Long Range Desert Group of the British Army (LRDG) was based there but Afrika Korps of Rommel also took possession of it three times. German soldiers went swimming in the lake of the Oracle contrary to local customs that forbid public nudity.  In 1942 as the 136th Italian Infantry Division Giovani Fascisti occupied the oasis a tiny Egyptian government in exile was created in Siwa. The oasis made a brief appearance as the basis of the LRDG in the 1958 war movie Ice Cold in Alex.
The ancient fortress of Siwa conin the village and celebrate by dancing singing and drumming. Food for the festival is bought collectively with funds raised by the mosques of the oasis.  Traditionally siwis also celebrated Achoura by lighting candles singing and swapping candies.  The adult celebration was limited to preparing a large meal. [Citation needed] Relationships with other ethnic groups Siwans are preferably endogamous rarely married to non-Siwans.  Nevertheless Bedouin wives command a higher bride price in Siwa than Siwan.  According to older Awlad Ali Bedouin members Bedouin Arab relations with Siwans were traditionally mediated by a "friendship" system whereby a specific Siwan (and his descendants) would be the friend of a specific Bedouin (and his descendants). The Bedouin would stay at Siwan\'s house when he came to Siwa and exchange his animal products and cereals for Siwan dates and olive oil.  The material for tarfutet the all-enveloping distinctive shawl worn by Siwan women is still made in the city of Kirdasa near Cairo. The Berbers of Siwa are close to 30 000.   Hot springs are an attraction for visitors.  The homosexual tradition of Siwan Siwa is of particular interest to anthropologists and sociologists because of its historical acceptance of male homosexuality and even rituals celebrating same-sex marriage - traditions that the Egyptian authorities sought to repress with a growing success since the beginning of the twentieth century. The practice probably occurred because since ancient times unmarried men and adolescents were required to live and work together outside the city of Shali. The German Egyptologist Georg Steindorff explored the Oasis in 1900 and reported that homosexual relations were common and often extended to a form of marriage: "The feast of marrying a boy was celebrated with great pomp and the money paid for a boy sometimes stood at fifteen pounds while the money paid for a woman was a bit \' Mahmud Mohammad Abd Allah author of the Siwan customs for the Harvard Peabody Museum in 1917 commented that although Siwan men can take up to four women "Siwan customs allow a man but a boy to whom he is In 1937 the anthropologist Walter Cline wrote the first detailed ethnography of the Siwans in which he noted:" All Norman men and boys practice sodomy ... among them the natives are not ashamed of that; they talk about it as openly as they talk about the love of women and many if not most of their struggles are born of a homosexual competition ... Eminent men lend their sons to each other. All Siwans know the mating that took place between their sheiks and the sons of their sheiks ... Most boys used for sodomy are between twelve and eighteen years old. " After an expedition to Siwa archaeologist Byron de Prorok reported in 1937" an enthusiasm [that] could not be approached even in Sodom ... Homosexuality was not only rampant it was raging ... Each dancer had his boyfriend ... [and] the chiefs had harem  In the late 1940s a Siwan merchant told Robin Maugham a visiting British novelist that Siwan were "seriously neglected" but Siwan\'s men "would kill each other for boy never for a woman " although Maugham noted marriage to a boy then became illegal.  The Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry who studied Siwa for three decades observed in 1973 that "the Siwans were still living in their walled city none of these bachelors were allowed to spend the night in the city and had to sleep outside of the doors ... In such circumstances it is not surprising that homosexuality is common among them ... Until the year 1928 It was not unusual that a kind of written agreement sometimes called a marriage contract was concluded between two men but since King Fu\'ad\'s visit to this oasis it has been completely banned ... However such agreements have continued but in the most great secrecy and without the writing proper until the end of the Second World War.Now the practice is not followed. " Despite the multiplicity of sources of these practices the Egyptian authorities and even the tribal elders of Siwan tried to suppress the historical record In his book Oasis Siwa (2001)  Siwan\'s homosexuality (especially a love poem from a man to a young man) required that he empty the contents of the current edition of the book. and remove it from future editions or be expulsed from the community.Malim reluctantly and physically accepted the passages from the first edition of his book and excluded them from the second.  A more recent book Siwa Past and Present (2005) by A. Dumairy the Director of Siwa Antiquities discreetly omits any mention of the famous historical practices of the inhabitants.  Controversy over Jewish and Israeli tourists In 2010 Siwa viewers complained to Al-Jazeera after Ibrahim Nasreddin an Egyptian expert on African affairs said on the Al Jazeera (Al Milaff) program that Israel was forging links with the people of Siwa during the Siyaha festival. Partly because of these complaints  the program facilitator produced an episode on Siwa\'s history and Berber heritage broadcast on November 5 2010. As part of the episode six residents of Siwa including Bilal Ahmad Bilal Issa Egyptian deputy (of Siwa) and Omar Abdallah Rajeh sheik of the Awlad Musa tribe responded to Nasreddin\'s demands. In their responses (translated by MEMRI) the interviewees stated that there were no Jews or Israelis in Siwa at the Siyaha Festival or otherwise that Jews or Israelis are not welcome in Siwa as tourists and reject any relationship with Jews or Israelis or even hate them; the reasons given were that they supported the Arabs in the Arab-Israeli conflict and as such "regard them as enemies".   Economy Agriculture is the main activity of modern Siwi especially the cultivation of dates and olives. Crafts like wickerwork is also of regional importance.  Tourism has become a vital source of income in recent decades. Much attention has been paid to creating hotels using local materials and presenting local styles.  Archeology In the middle of the 20th century Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Fakhry was working in Siwa (and elsewhere in the Western Desert). In 1995 Greek archaeologist Liana Souvaltzi announced that she had identified an alleged grave in Siwa with that of Alexander the Great. The claim was questioned by George Thomas then secretary general of the Greek Ministry of Culture who said it was unclear whether the excavated structure was even a grave or his Macedonian style while the fragments of The tablets shown did not support any of the translations provided by Souvaltzi.  An extremely ancient hominid footprint was discovered in 20 07 at the Siwa Oasis. Egyptian scientists have claimed that it could be 2-3 million years old making it the oldest trace of fossilized hominids ever found. However no evidence of this conjecture has ever been presented.    At the end of 2013 an announcement was made regarding the discovery of Archaeoastronomy in spring and autumn on Mount Aghurmi / Oracle Amun seen from the Timasirayn Temple in the Western Desert 12 km to Lake Siwa. The first public viewing of this event took place on March 21 2014 at the Spring Equinox.  In popular culture The fifth mission of the game Sniper Elite III takes place in the oasis of Siwa.  Siwa is featured In popular culture The fifth mission of the game Sniper Elite III takes place in the oasis of Siwa.  Siwa is featured in Assassin\'s Creed: Origins and is the birthplace and home of the protagonist Bayek.