Abstract

Halite cement in a coarse sandstone channel-fill and long curving ribbons of fibrous halite have been observed during investigations of archaeology and geology in the Fag-el-Gamous area in the eastern Fayum depression, west of the Nile Valley, 100 km south of Cairo, Egypt. Curved ribbons of sodium chloride found in tombs are tens of centimeters long and are highly unusual halite crystal forms. The salt has several possible origins: 1) it may have been leached from surrounding Eocene formations, 2) it may be related to shore-line evaporation of Holocene lakes in the Fayum depression, 3) it may have been concentrated from wind-transported salt from the west and northwest, or 4) it may be the result of deliberate human activities. None of these possibilities can be clearly disregarded or proven, but the salt is interpreted as probably a result of human activities. Salt may have been used to stabilize sand in the area of chamber tombs cut into deposits of the Eocene Gehannam Formation. It may also have been used to seal the tombs to all but aggressive plunderers, and against moisture.

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