Above the northern shore of Birket Qarun, in a now deserted and inhospitable area at the foot of the desert escarpment towards Gebel Qatrani, is a small uninscribed temple known locally as Qasr el-Sagha. Qasr Al-Sagha, or rather the Golden Fortress, is one of Fayoum's mysterious marvels. The site can be reached via a track from Kom Ushim, and is about 25km from the main road. A 4×4 vehicle and a guide is recommended for this visit.

 

In remote antiquity a forest grew on the escarpment north of the site – petrified remains can still be seen and it is thought that Birket Qarun (ancient Lake Moeris) once extended its northern shore close to the temple in the days when the lake was much larger. Qasr el-Sagha once stood on the shore of the ancient Lake Moeris. Now the lake has shrunk and Qasr Al-Sagha is stranded amidst the barren desert. It rests on a level platform on the side of the escarpment and was first published by Schweinfurth in 1892 and visited later by Petrie.

 

The date of the temple is a source of debate among scholars, but its plan suggests that the structure was built no later than the Middle Kingdom. It’s architecture, however, was interpreted by early explorers as being in the style of Old Kingdom structures. The temple was constructed of limestone blocks of different sizes, which fit tightly together without the use of mortar and with oblique corner joints. 

 

The temple was never completed and the walls were left undecorated. The interior contains seven small chambers or shrines and an offering hall. There is also a ‘blind room’ which is completely enclosed and appears to have no entrance. A German-Polish Mission directed by Gunter Dreyer have recently conducted a magnetometer survey of the Middle Kingdom settlement area at Qasr el-Sagha in order to complete the plan of the area and to establish whether the settlement continued around the south side of the temple. 

 

On the flat plain to the south of Qasr el-Sagha there are several sites of prehistoric villages whose inhabitants seem to have existed by hunting, farming and fishing.