Thursday, May 29, 2008

Archaeologists find ancient army HQ in Sinai

Reuters AlertNet (Jonathan Wright)

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered what they say was the ancient headquarters of the Pharaonic army guarding the northeastern borders of Egypt for more than 1,500 years, the government said on Wednesday.

The fortress and adjoining town, which they identify with the ancient place name Tharu, lies in the Sinai peninsula about 3 km (2 miles) northeast of the modern town of Qantara, Egyptian archaeologist Mohamed Abdel Maksoud told Reuters.

The town sat at the start of a military road joining the Nile Valley to the Levant, parts of which were under Egyptian control for much of the period, the government's Supreme Council for Antiquities said in a statement.

The archaeologists, led by Abdel Maksoud, have been working on forts along the road since 1986 but it was inscriptions found this year which clinched the identification, he said.

The inscriptions mention three Pharaohs -- Tuthmosis II, who ruled from about 1512 BC and who built one of the military installations along the route, Seti I and Ramses II, who between them ruled Egypt from 1318 to 1237 BC, it added.

The site contains the remains of a mud-brick fortress dating from the time of Ramses II and measuring 500 metres (547 yards) by 250 metres, with towers four metres high, it said.

Associated Press

The ancient military road, known as "Way of Horus," once connected Egypt to Palestine and is close to present-day Rafah, which borders the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Archaeologist Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud, chief of the excavation team, said the discovery was part of a joint project with the Culture Ministry that started in 1986 to find fortresses along that military road.

Abdel-Maqsoud said the mission also located the first ever New Kingdom temple to be found in northern Sinai, which earlier studies indicated was built on top of an 18th Dynasty fort (1569-1315 B.C.).

A collection of reliefs belonging to King Ramses II and King Seti I (1314-1304 B.C.) were also unearthed with rows of warehouses used by the ancient Egyptian army during the New Kingdom era to store wheat and weapons, he said.

Egypt Daily Star News

An undated picture released by the Supreme Council for Antiquities on May 28, shows a carving of the ancient Egyptian sky-god Horus dating from the reign of Egypt's well known pharaoh Rameses II (ca. 1279-1213 BC) discovered in a temple dedicated to Horus located in the largest military complex excavated in the ancient 18th-19th Dynasty city of Saro in North Sinai.

Yahoo! News

An ancient Egyptian inscription which was found in what archaeologists believe is the fortress town of Tharu in northern Sinai, is seen in this undated handout photo made available May 28, 2008.

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