Little is known about Dakhla during Pharaonic times. A single stela from the Twenty-second Dynasty, which mentions a water dispute, was found near Mut by the british H.G.Lyons, in 1894. There is also a solitary temple in the crumbling ruins at Deir Al- Hagar. However, like all the oases Dakhla was heavily populated during Roman times. There isn't a string of fortresses like those in Kharga because Dakhla is not on as many caravan routes. The southbound Darb al-Tarfawi which Dakhla is on does not seem to have needed the same fierce protection as the Darb al-Arbein. Fertile Dakhla provided Rome with much needed grain supplies rather than providing defence.
After the Romans, the Christians occupied some of the Roman sites. There are ruins of Coptic churches in several spots around Dakhla dating as far back as the C7th. From this time Islamic influence grew. Raids from the south and west led to the construction of fortified towns, such as Qasr Dakhla, on clifftops or hills. They had gates that could be locked at night to offer some protection against attack. Despite this Mohamed Ali Pasha was able to subdue Dakhla, as he did all the other major oases.
The Sanusi briefly occupied Dakhla in 1916. They were ousted by a British attack which centred on Tineida and Balat. After three days of fighting the Sanusi left and headed across the desert to Siwa.
The British explorer, Sir Archibald Edmondstone was the first European to reach Dakhla. He arrived in 1819 after a gruelling race against the French, Drovetti. From the Nile Valley, Edmondstone had taken the more direct route of the Darb al-Tawil (the Long Road) which bypassed Kharga and had travelled on all through the final night of his five day journey. Drovetti visited Kharga on his way and consequently lost the informal race. As a result of Edmondstone's single-mindedness the only mountain in Dakhla is named after him. Until that time Dakhla was almost forgotten and was seen more as a rumour than a real place. Later that same year another Frenchman, Cailliaud, reached Dakhla and Muller and Wilkinson followed in the 1820s. However, it wasn't until the German Forscher Rohlfs expedition of 1874 that the area was thoroughly mapped, and this was when Jebal Edmondstone was officially named. H.G.Lyons also arrived in 1874 and found the Pharaonic stela at Mut. Rather more official expeditions funded and organised by the Geological Survey arrived in 1898 and by 1908 when the railway was opened Dakhla was a tourist destination.