Near the main road, about 75km north of Dush towards Kharga City, are the ruins of Qasr el-Zayyan, one of the largest and most important ancient settlements in Kharga Oasis, it was situated in Tkhonemyris village in A.D. 140; the temple was dedicated to Amun-Re.
One of the chains of fortresses built during Ptolemaic and Roman times, the settlement was known in ancient times as Takhoneourit, meaning ‘The Great Well’, which the Greeks called Tchonemyris. Tchonemyris was the associated settlement, a little to the west of the fortress. This was until recently unexcavated, but there seems to have been some clearance work in recent years and the settlement too has high mudbrick walls.
Tchonemyris was obviously of great importance as a major water source in antiquity and would have been a place where travelers would stop to rest or spend the night.A major desert route ran from the town of Esna to Qasr el-Zayyan during Roman times. On the road from Dush to the fortress and on to Qasr el-Ghweita about 7km to the north, ancient travelers would have encountered numerous wells and farming communities, many of which still remain today.
The land surrounding the fortress constitutes the lowest part of the Kharga depression at 18m below sea level. Though the fortress sits on a slight rise, this is one of the few Kharga fortresses not situated on high ground with a good view of the surrounding countryside. Perhaps Qasr el-Zayyan took more of an agricultural role than a defensive one because of the availability of water in this part of the Oasis. The community here must have been quite large and prosperous. It is also on the low ground that the cemeteries of the ancient community are to be found.
The rectangular mud brick enclosure walls of the fortress measure 26m by 28m and are still well preserved. Inside the fortress enclosure were the living quarters of the Roman garrison and modern clearance by the Supreme Council of Antiquities have uncovered rooms containing kilns and hearths, a water cistern and a cache of Roman coins as well as bronzes and glass objects. The remains of the Great Well, covered by a domed mud brick roof, can still be seen close to the enclosure wall on the western side.
Within the fortress walls there is a temple dedicated to the god ‘Amun of Hibis’, who was known to the Romans as Amenibis and other deities of Hibis are also mentioned.This small sandstone temple measured only about 7.5m by 13.5m when it was first constructed during the Ptolemaic Period, but was renewed during the Roman rule of Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161) and a brick hall, 22m long, was constructed in front of the main structure.
The main temple building comprises a court leading to the sanctuary or offering chamber which has an elaborate cult-niche in the rear (north) wall. In the antechamber there is a staircase leading to the roof from where much of the temple can be seen.
Modern restoration of the temple was undertaken in 1984-1986 by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and more recent extensive excavation and reconstruction by the Supreme Council of Antiquities.