Egypt’s mysterious desert spiral has finally unearthed its secret.
Various theories have been cited for the existence of the phenomenon since it was first spotted in March 1997, by, amongst others, baffled Google Earth users.
Some believed that the ‘desert spirals’ are portal to a parallel universe, while others argued that they were a landing pad for extraterrestrial spacecraft.
The reality is far less complicated. The spirals were made as part of an environmental art installation called Desert Breath, designed to “measure the passage of time”.
Desert Breath is a land art project created by the D.A.S.T Arteam. The group was founded in 1995 by Danae Stratou, Alexantra Stratou and Stella Constantinides.
According to the team, the project was the result of a common desire to work in the desert. A statement on the website reads: “In our mind’s eye the desert was a place where one experiences infinity. We were addressing the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind. The point of departure was the conical form, the natural formation of the sand as a material.”
The spirals cover an area of 100,000m2, in the eastern Sahara desert bordering the Red Sea in El Gouna.
They were constructed using 8,000m3 of sand, formed into positive and negative conical mounds, which spiral outward around a 30m diameter hole in the middle.
According to D.A.S.T Arteam, Desert Breath is “located between the sea and a body of mountains at the point where the immensity of the sea meets the immensity of the desert”. With this in mind, the art functions on two levels, they say, as a visual image from above and a pathway at ground level.
It has been described as measuring the “passage of time” through its slow disintegration, as the sand steadily blows away.