The Greek form of the Egyptian word Uah
, which was used to denote an island in
the sea of sand of the great Libyan Desert. These oases are preserved from the shifting sands
by steep hills of limestone round them, and watered by springs, which make them fertile and
habitable. The name is applied especially to two of these oases on the west of Egypt, which
were taken possession of by the Egyptians at an early period.
Oăsis Maior (Ὄασις
), the Greater Oasis, was situated seven days' journey west of Abydos, and
belonged to Upper Egypt. This oasis contains numerous ruins of the ancient Egyptian and Roman
Oasis Minor (Ὄασις μικρά
the Lesser or Second Oasis, was a good day's journey from the southwestern end of Lake
Moeris, and belonged to the Heptanomis, or Middle Egypt.
A still more celebrated oasis than either of these was that called Ammon
, Hammon, Ammonium, Hammōnis Oracŭlum, from
its being a chief seat of the worship and oracle of the god Ammon. It is now called Siwah.
Its distance from Cairo is twelve days, and from the northern coast about 160 English miles.
The Ammonians do not appear to have been subject to the old Egyptian monarchy. Cambyses,
after conquering Egypt in B.C. 525, sent an army against them, which was overwhelmed by the
sands of the desert. In B.C. 331, Alexander the Great visited the oracle, which hailed him as
the son of Zeus Ammon (Q. Curt. iv. 33). Cato the Younger also made a journey to the place.
Ruins of the temple of Ammon still exist.