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Temples Of Egypt.....Part Four
7 years ago
Tell Basta (Bubastis, or Per-Bastet)
by John Warren

by John Warren Bastet, the Cat Goddess Tell Basta (Bubastis or Per-Bastet, meaning "The Domain of Bastet) is the site of an ancient city about 80 km to the northeast of Cairo in the eastern Nile Delta. The ancient mound sets just to the southeastern side of modern Zagazig.  It was an important city from about the 4th Dynasty until the end of the Roman Period (2613 BC through 395 AD), and was the capital of the 18th Lower Egyptian nome during the Late Period. However, we also know that even as early as the 2nd Dynasty, a number of kings built up close ties with the city and the Temple of Bastet. Besides the important Temple of Bastet, the city also occupied key ground along the routs from Memphis to the Sinai (Wadi Tumilat) and to Asia.  

The city apparently reached its peak in importance during the 22nd Dynasty, when Egypt was ruled by natives of the city such as Osorkon I (924-889 BC). However, the capital was probably never moved from Tanis at that time, though some sources disagree, believing that Tell Basta was in fact the capital of Egypt during the 22nd and 23rd Dynasties. The city was once apparently destroyed by the Persians, but appears to have overcome the disaster.

Plan of Tel Basta

Just as a notation, Tell Basta was apparently plundered considerably by modern illicit digging. Stories still seem to circulate in Egypt about people who became rich through a find in its ruins.

     Please stay tuned for the next installment.....

7 years ago

Pillars of the ka Temple of Pepi I
Remaining Pillars of the ka Temple of Pepi I

The Temple of Bastet

Plan of the Temple of BastetThis red granite temple of the cat goddess Bastet was originally documented by Herodotus in the 5th century. Herodotus tells us that the city was popular with religious pilgrims who came here by the thousands for the goddess' annual festival. He tells us this festival was one of the grandest in Egypt. Herodotus also tells us that:

"When the Egyptians travel to Bubastis they do so in the following manner. Men and women sail together, and in each boat there are many persons of both sexes. Some of the women make a noise with rattles, and some of the men play pipes during the whole journey, while the other men and women sing and clap their hands. When they come to a town on the way, they lay to, and some of the women land and shout and mock the women of the place, while others dance and get up to mischief. They do this at every town lying on the Nile; but when they come to Bubastis they begin the festival with great offerings and sacrifices, during which more wine is consumed than during the whole of the rest of the year. The Egyptians say that some 700,000 men and women make this pilgrimage every year."

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Statue of HathorThe site was excavated by Edouard Naville between 1887 and 1889. Though the site was so ruined that it was impossible to reconstruct any more then the basic layout of the Temple of Bastet, he confirmed much of what Herodotus originally wrote about the site

Left: A Hathor Column Capital from Tell Basta

While little is known of the layout of this temple, we believe an entrance hall is attributable to Osorkon II of the 22nd Dynasty.  Osorkon II seems to have added a festival hall and hypostyle hall, while a sanctuary was built by Nectanebo II of the 30th Dynasty

A monumental granite gateway built by Osorkon II for his Sed-festival is a remarkable structure, decorated with scenes taken from the Sed-festival reliefs of Amenhotep III.

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Blocks of various dates are found in the structure with some even from the 4th Dynasty. Herodotus tells us that the temple was already lower than the surrounding town in his day, and partially surrounded by the branches of perhaps a sacred lake. The temple was therefore probably very old. 

Other Monuments

Osorkon II's Sed-festival gateNaville also discovered ka-temples of the 5th Dynasty rulers, Teti and Pepi I, and two jubilee chapels built by Amenemhet III (Amenemhet I is also known to have built here) and Amenhotep III. The ka-temple of Pepi I lies to the west of the Temple of Bastet, but all that remains are two rows of pillars. Teti's ka temple was to the northwest of the main temple. To the southwest of the Temple of Bastet stood a temple dedicated to Atum and built by Osorkon I or II. 

Left: Part of the Great Granite Gateway from Tell Basta Showing Osorkon II and Karoma

To the north stood a smaller rectangular sanctuary of the lion god Mihos. In Egyptian mythology, Mihos was a son of Bastet, as was Horhekenu, who was probably also worshipped in the area. The small Mihos sanctuary appears to postdate the Temple of Bastet, and to have been dedicated by Osorkon III. Finally, there is also a Roman era temple that may have been dedicated to Agathos Daimon, the "Protecting Spirit".

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Several burials of important officials have also been discovered at Tel Basta. These include the vizier Iuti of the 19th Dynasty and two viceroys of Kush called Hori who were father and son. The Temple of Bastet Their burials were took place apparently at the end of the 19th Dynasty and the beginning of the 20th Dynasty.

To the north of the city are a series of vaulted mudbrick cat necropolises and adjacent ateliers. These burials appear to begin in the Third Intermediate Period.  A cache of gold and silver vessels and jewelry was discovered at the site in 1906, which is now housed in the Egyptian Antiquity Museum in Cairo.

Right: Ruins from the Temple of Bastet

Excavations continue at Tell Basta. Recent finds include a necklace of golden flies thought to be a military decoration awarded by the Pharaoh Ahmose over 3,500 years ago. The necklace, with 19 pendants in the shape of flies, was found alongside a cartouche inscribed with the name of Ahmose, the founder of the 18th dynasty who ruled from 1570 to 1546 BC. The head of the archeological mission, Mahmoud Omar, speculated that the owner of the necklace won it for military service against the Hyksos.

7 years ago
Buto (Modern Tell el-Farein)
by Jimmy Dunn

by Jimmy Dunn

The small open air museum at ButoButo was an ancient city located about 95 kilometers southeast of Alexandria in the Egyptian Nile Delta. It stood on the Sebennytic branch of the Nile, not too distant from its mouth, and was located along the southern shore of the Butic Lake.

It is fairly clear that prior to Egypt’s unification around 3,000 BC, the country was probably controlled from the North by one group of people and in the south by another. There were two lands, Upper (because it was up river), or Southern A rather well preserved stela at Buto in the Open Air museumEgypt and Lower, or Northern Egypt. We believe that at this time the most important city in Lower Egypt was Nekhen (Greek Hierakonpolis, meaning "city of the falcon"). Even after Egypt’s unification during the early dynasties, it remained an important city, and at times, might have been considered Egypt’s capital. The Greek name for this city would indicate that the chief deity worshipped was probably the Falcon God, Horus

In the North, Nekhen’s counterpart was Buto, which we believe is the area known as Tell el-Farain (meaning "mound of the pharaohs") today (though there is some uncertainty regarding this). It is located  near a small village that still preserves the ancient name after 5,000 years. During ancient times, it was in Nome VI (Mountain Bull). Just as Nekhen, Buto continued to be an important center into the early dynasties of a united Egypt. We believe that Buto is probably shown on the Narmer Palette as a major Delta center. Wilkinson tells us that Qa'a's Tomb seal impression names a Royal Palace located at Buto as Hwt Pe Hor Mesen (or Hwt Pe Hor Way), which was built during the 1st Dynasty and was still active during the third dynasty.



This post was modified from its original form on 03 Sep, 5:57
7 years ago

A striding pharaph rests upon the ground at Buto
A striding pharaph rests upon the ground at Buto

Buto probably came about as the merger of two different centers. The Pyramid Text refers to the "kings of Lower Egypt who were in Pe. In some of the references, Pe is associated with Horus, Damaged sphinxes at Butothe Falcon god, so early on Horus was probably worshipped in both Lower and Upper Egypt. The text also references a place called Dep where the god Wadjet was worshipped. Pe and Dep were apparently neighboring cities. Eventually, these two cities together were called Per-Wadjet reflecting their two gods and from this came the Greek name of Buto. Hence, the Wadjet cobra goddess is often referred to as Buto. Egypt Mythology also tells us that in the famous story of Isis, Osiris, Horus and Seth that After Osiris was killed by Seth, Isis hid Horus near the sacred town of Buto with the help of the goddess Hathor.

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A block with fine, clear reliefs rests on stones at Buto
A block with fine, clear reliefs rests on stones at Buto

A worn but fine granite statue of Pharaoh and Sekhmet at ButoThe remains of Buto consist of three mounds, comprising two cities and a temple complex.  The area was occupied into the Roman period, and was first identified as ancient Buto by FlindersPetrie in 1888. In 1904, C. T. Currelly undertook trail excavations, but the site was left mostly unexplored until the excavations and survey by Veronica Seton-Williams and Dorothy Charlesworth in the 1960s. These initial excavations revealed Late Period, Ptolemaic and Roman remains, including cemeteries, houses, baths and temples.

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Predynastic remains were not discovered until the excavations of Thomas von der Way in the 1980s. Part of Way's discoveries included clay 'nails' and what has been called Grubenkopfnagel, which is a tapering cone with a concave burnished end that resembles artifacts used in the Mesopotamian Uruk culture to decorate temple facades. He also discovered pot shards decorated with whitish stripes characteristic of the Syrian 'Amuq F ware. Because of this evidence, Thomas von der Way suggested that even during this early period, the Delta Egyptians had contact with the Uruk culture, perhaps through northern Syria.

Buto is actually a large site, most of which is not open to the public
Buto is actually a large site, most of which is not open to the public

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Other archaeology finds shows that Buto was probably occupied for 500 years during the Predynastic Period. Evidence from Buto suggests that this northern land was first influenced by the style of pottery found in the south, and that later the region was enveloped by southern A cluster of column capitals and bases, mostly Greek and Roman, at Butoculture. Such finding suggest that development in the North lagged behind that of Southern Egypt and supports the theory that eventually it was Southern kings who unified Egypt.

Interestingly, while considerable ruins dating to predyanstic Egypt and Egypt's late period exist at Buto, there is little to suggest that Buto was any more then a small village during most of the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. Yet tomb paintings in Middle Egypt and the south suggest that Buto remained a capital of the North.  Some archaeologists believe that the Egyptians used Buto more as a symbolic capital for balance with the South. However, it was surely a religious center, and Herodotus tells us that it was famous during Egypt's Persian period for its oracles.

Excavations continue at Buto, and we find one of the latest dig reports dating from Spring, 2000 from the Netherlands Foundation for Archaeological Research in Egypt stating that:

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"The DAI team directed by Ulrich Hartung excavated an area adjoining previous work, north of Sekhmawy, exposing parts of the cell-like mud-brick foundations of four large Saite buildings and domestic structures of an earlier Saite occupation. Cut into the brickwork were remains of (early) Roman burials. Some of the cells contained round silos, others were reused as tombs already in late Saite or Persian times. In building 2, a grave in one of the cells contained burnt remains of 2 or 3 wooden coffins, over 500 shabtis and many faience plaques and amulets. The revealed LP structures can now be Dr. Hartung at Butocompared with the results of last season's geophysical survey done by Tomasz Herbich in the same area. Immediately below the Saite remains, smaller walls and a deposit of beer-jars of ED date were exposed, belonging to a large, probably administrative building of the 1st/2nd Dyns, of which other parts have previously been revealed. "

Note that Dr. Hartung today works for the Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Cairo.

Today there is really not much to see at Buto, though there is a small open-air museum, where there are some nice statues and stela, some upright while others rest in the sand. Otherwise, there are many ancient mud brick walls dating to the Greek and Roman Periods. As elsewhere in the Delta, monumental sites have been largely ruined by water, and in fact powerful pumps must be utilized for digs in the area because the predynastic levels are below the current water table.

7 years ago
Heracleum: The Legendary Submerged City
by The Egyptian Government

Following years of archeological and sonar surveys in the Gulf of Abu-Qeer, an Egyptian-French expedition recently discovered important antiquities in two sites; the first is Minotis, the eastern suburb of Canup lying 2km off-shore and the second is the city of Heracleum, 6.5km off- shore.

Thousands of artifacts, including bronze coins mostly belonging to the Ptolemic era, two gold coins, three colossal statues, two paintings with Greek inscriptions, some jewelry, several day-to-day utensils, earthenware and some amulets were found.

Experts have described this find, in economic and tourist terms, as next in importance to the discoveries of Tutankhamun's tomb and the solar boats. The finds were sent to the Roman Museum in Alexandria for restoration and treatment for salty contents.

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Submerged civilization

When Alexander the Great founded a new capital named after him, the town of Abu-Qeer formed the eastern corner of Alexandria. Abu-Qeer comprised three suburbs, Canup, Heracleum and Minotis. The first lay in the hinterland, the second on the coast, serving as the main harbor and the third on the left. At Heracleum, which housed the Greek temple of Hercules for which the city was named, the extinct Canupian branch of the Nile flowed into the Mediterranean.

Over time, the coast at Abu-Qeer eroded, resulting in the submersion of the entire suburb and harbor of Heracleum and Minotis. Only some remains of old Conup, known now as Abu-Qeer, still survive.

So far, an area of almost 1000 m x 800 m has been explored. Remains of vast buildings, harbor basins and the wreckage of a dozen old sunken ships have been examined.. Various theories on why the area sank into the Mediterranean have been discussed, including theories of earthquakes and large waves.

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Major discoveries

Heracleum: The Legendary Submerged CityAccording to both Egyptian and French sides, the most significant discoveries at Heracleum consist of a 195-cm-high black granite plaque, known as Necrates plaque. This is an intact replica of the famous Necrates plaque found in 1899 and kept at present with the Egyptian Museum. The plaque refers to a decree by king Nektanbu I (378 BC - 362 BC) ordering a 10 percent tax imposed on Greek trade passing through the harbor. The tax would be paid to the the treasury of the goddess Nut's temple. The plaque was to be placed at the harbor entrance. According to Herodotus, Heracleum was the mandatory port of entry to Egypt for all foreign ships arriving from the Greek Sea (Mediterranean).

The plaque provides some interesting insights.  First, the plaque belongs to an era prior to the Ptolemic (Greek) kings.  Therefore Heracleum and Abu-Qeer existed before the creation of Alexandria.  Therefore Herodotus was probably accurate when he wrote that Herodotus' history began in the New Kingdom. Herodotus' assumption has remained unsupported by evidence, until this discovery was made.

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Also, even though the 30th Dynasty of Nektanbu I is considered to be an era of weakness and decline, the empire still preserved its financial and religious systems.

The joint expedition also found three statues that lay for 2300 years in saline water but ultimately were in very good condition. These include a statue of the goddess Isis, shown as a female rather than a deity. The great detail of the deity's face and body indicates that the abstractionist trend of ancient Egyptian sculpture took a sensual turn, characteristic of Greco- Roman art.

The nearly 2m high statue, basically made of granite, reflects a combination of the features of both the ancient Egyptian and Greek schools of sculpture. This trend dominated Egypt and the entire Mediterranean basin after the invasion of Alexander the Great.

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Three colossal statues were extracted but their names and identities have not yet been determined. The three statues were completely buried in the sea bed nearby walls of the submerged city.

There is evidence of the Heracleum temple as well. The three statues, each 5m high and several ton in weight represent a king, queen and deity Hapi (god of the Nile and flood) respectively. Nearby there was a colossal coffin made of one whole piece of rosy granite dating to the Ptolemic era. Inscriptions on the coffin mentions the god Amun, the supreme deity of Pharaonic Egypt.

It was the habit of the Greeks to associate the god Amun with Zeus, their god of gods, and Amun's son, Khonsu with their god Hercules. Hence it can be said that the Hercleum temple had existed in this area.

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Exquisite Finds

Heracleum: The Legendary Submerged CityA collection of sphinxes were also found, in addition to a rare gold coin dating to Ptolemy I, the founder of Ptolemic Dynasty.

The coin, one of two still in existence, clearly showed on one face his portrait and a cart drawn by four elephants led by Alexander the Great on the other.

Also Found were some bronze coins belonging to the eras of Ptolemy II and Ptolemy IV, together with one coin dating back to Cleopatra'sreign. Other finds included a large collection of tableware including well made bronze utensils of various sizes showing seals and logos. All these were indicative of elegant urban life at the time.

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Among other discoveries were colored, elaborate earthenware, similar to Greek utensils, with exquisite Ptolemic inscriptions, a rare wooden headrest similar to those found in Pharaonic tombs, in addition to collection of gold earrings, small bronze rings and an elaborate bronze mirror. Other coins found showed portraits and names of kings and queens of the Ptolemic era, tableware and, earthenware and jewelry buried deep in the sea bed. 

These discoveries, particularly the Heracleum plaque, colossal statues and the temple coffin,  reveal the Egyptian name and location of this sunken city, together with significant and basic indicators of the topography of the Canup era. The discovery of Heracleum harbor and the wreckage of ten sunken ships promises more significant discoveries in the future.

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Facts and legends

These recent discoveries give proof to facts earlier referred to in ancient texts mixed with legends. Although Hercules was known during his time for his adventures around the world, he had a role to play in Egypt. According to the Greek historian Diudor the Sicilian, once there was an overwhelming Nile flood that broke all barriers, whereupon Hercules soon blocked all gaps and restored the river back to its course. In recognition of his feat, the city dwellers built a temple named for him.

Greek historian Herodotus says that when the beautiful Helen eloped with her lover Paris from her jealous husband Menelaus, they tried to take refuge in this area. But Toins, guard of the Nile mouth refused to help them for moral reasons.

According to legend, Toins was a king of Egypt, after whom the city was named. This explains why the city had two names. Since the beginning of the New Kingdom and long before the rise of Alexandria, Heracleum-Toins was Egypt's gateway to the Mediterranean.

7 years ago
Nikratj (Greek Naukratis, modern Kom Gi'eif)
by Jimmy Dunn

Nikratj (Greek Naukratis, modern Kom Gi'eif)Nikratj (Greek Naukratis, modern Kom Gi'eif) was a Milesian Greek settlement on the Canopic branch of the Nile in the Western Delta.  However, scholars believe that Corinthians may have early on inhabited the city, with the Milesian Greeks arriving later. The City is located about 16 km from Sais, the capital of the 26th Dynasty. Nearby, there is a modern village that seems to have preserved the ancient name as el-Niqrash.

In his documentation of Naukratis, Flinders Petrie states that:

The question of the position of Naukratis has long been an undecided one; and for the very good reason that no part of the world, so close to a large Western population, and so essential to archaeology, is such unknown ground as the Delta of Egypt.  There are hundreds of English travelers who are familiar with Upper Egypt and its downs; but it would be easier to find anyone to give a scientific personal account of the sources of the Nile, than one who could give an archaeological account of the remains thickly scattered about its mouths.  

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Nikratj (Greek Naukratis, modern Kom Gi'eif)The problem is that thousands upon thousands of years of flood waters and dampness in Egypt's Delta has destroyed most of the monuments in the area, and those that remain are often buried beneath a thick layer of silt.

Herodotus tells us that Ahmose II gave the site to the Greeks, along with a monopoly on sea trade to Egypt. He also tells us that it was the first and only city in which the early Greek merchants were allowed to settle and so from that standpoint along the city has considerable historical importance. However, historians believe that Ahmose only reorganized an existing settlement of foreigners, providing them with new trading privileges. We know of the city's existence from at least 688 BC due to a passage of Athenaios in which he mentions a merchant of Naukratis trading there from Cyprus in the twenty-third Olympiad. Besides, Herodotos tells us that Ahmoses "gave the city of Naukratis ", indicating that the city existed to be given.  In fact, Petrie provides some evidence that the city existed from a very remote Nikratj (Greek Naukratis, modern Kom Gi'eif)time, though most of his earliest discoveries appear to date no earlier then the middle of the seventh century BC.

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In some respects, Naukratis may be more famous from a Greek standpoint then from the Egyptian side.  It is often referenced in modern accounts of ancient Greek colonization and we know that it was an important and busy trading center that granted Greeks access to Egyptian grain and luxury items. However, it was obviously under strict control of the Egyptian Nikratj (Greek Naukratis, modern Kom Gi'eif) pharaoh, and the town is important from the standpoint of understanding Graeco-Egyptian relations during the seventh and sixth centuries BC.  

The Site was excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1884-1885 and was later investigated by F. Li. Griffin and D. G. Hogarth in the 1980s.  Apparently work continues today.  We are told by Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards in her publication, Pharaohs Fellahs and Explorers that  it was famous for the skill of its potters and the taste of its florists!  She tells us that Petrie turned up inscriptions, coins, sculptures, bronzes, terra-cottas and other treasures at the site. An interesting story has Petrie coming upon the remains of a jeweler's workshop, containing a quantity of lump silver, and a large store of beautiful archaic Greek coins, fresh from the mint of Athens.  The coins were never in circulation, and were probably intended to be made into jewelry. However, there were probably some coins actually struck in Naukratis, and these would comprise the only coinage known from Pharaonic Egypt.

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The so-called stele of Naukratis, a perfectly intact stele, was unearthed on the site a little over a century ago (1899). Interestingly, and also uniquely, an identical stele was recently found during the underwater excavations off the coast of Alexandria. The engravings on the stele, now located in the Egyptian museum, are particularly fine. The stele contains a decree of Nectanebo I relating to a levy of ten percent tax on goods coming into the port at Naukratis, Nikratj (Greek Naukratis, modern Kom Gi'eif)as well as goods manufactured in the city.  The tax was for the benefit of the temple of Neith (at Sais). Some account give Naukratis a complete and absolute monopoly on foreign sea trade during this period. 

Some structures still exist at the site, including the temples of Dioscuri, Apollo, Hera and Aphrodite, as well as a scarab factory.  However, there is really very little to see, as most of these facilities are in complete ruin.  Nevertheless, study of the ruins will probably continue for some time due to the importance of the city.

7 years ago
Qantir, Ancient Pi-Ramesse
by Monroe Edgar

The modern village of Qantir (Khatana-Qantir) marks what was probably the ancient site of Ramesses II's great capital, Pi-Ramesse or Per-Ramesses ("House or Domain of Ramesses"). An enameled plaque from QantirThis city is situated about 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) north of Faqus in Sharqiya  province of the eastern Nile Delta (about 60 miles north-east of Cairo). 

Right: An enameled plaque from Qantir

It is known that Ramesses II moved the ancient Egyptian capital from southern Egypt into the Delta, probably both to escape the influence of the powerful priests at Thebes, and to be nearer to the costs of modern Turkey and Syria in order to protect Egypt's borders.

The location of this city, well known from documentation, was long in question. However, in the 1920s, decorated tiles, including some with the name of Seti I and Ramesses II were discovered in the area. 

More recently, beginning in the 1970s, the site was examined by a German expedition, and the Austrian Archaeological Institute under the direction of Manfred Bietak. They have been using magnetometer (gradumeter) to map out the long lost city. This relatively new method of archaeological discovery is mostly non-intrusive, and in many cases where the land is agricultural in nature, is the only suitable method of exploring a site. By late 1999, some 75,000 square meters had been measured in the fields around Qantir, and domestic areas, administrative quarters of a vast palace-temple compound, a possible cemetery and a region with poorer houses were defined.

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Qantir, Ancient Pi-Ramesse

Qantir, Ancient Pi-RamesseTheir work firmly established the site as Pi-Ramesse, with ruins stretching as far as Tell el-Dab'a to the south covering an area of some thirty square kilometers. Edgar Pusch, head of the German archaeological team, tells us that, "Something like this has never been detected before in Egypt". The computer plottings made by the team show winding streets, structures that look like small houses, spacious buildings, palaces and a lakeshore. Some of the amazing finds include a huge stable, to which was attached royal chariot and arms factories.

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Qantir, Ancient Pi-RamesseCovering nearly 17,000 sq. meters, the stable had six identical rows of halls connected to a vast courtyard. Each hall had 12 rooms, each 12 meters long. The floors sloped down to holes for collecting horse urine that Pusch speculates was used in dyeing cloth, softening leather and fertilizing vineyards."

Apparently, these stables were able to hold as many as 460 horses and is the largest ancient stable ever discovered. There were actually two layers of stables, with the larger and later stables probably having been built by Ramesses III. 

"Horses were very important in the expansion of the Egyptian empire and these stables were built on a strategic location close to the trade routes leading to Lebanon and Syria, and not very far from the Hittites" 

Mohamed El-Saghir, Head of the Pharaonic Antiquities Department in the SCA.

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A lacquered and engraved brickBelow the two stable layers, workshops for the manufacture of glass, faience and Egyptian blue were found, and below this layer, a palace like complex was found that contained a gilded gold floor overlaying stucco with an embedded polychrome cartouche of Ramesses II.

Around the arms and chariot factories, chariot parts, arrow shafts, flint arrowheads, javelin heads, daggers and bronze scales for body armor have been discovered.

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Left: A lacquered and engraved brick

In ancient times, there were many more branches of the Nile river located in the Delta, but only two remain. Pi Ramesse was located on an extinct branch that dried out beginning in the 20th Dynasty. Hence, kings of the 21sty Dynasty moved virtually all the monuments, item by item, to the new capital at Tanis (as well as to other cities). 

It is probable that a number of temples were located within this ancient city. These religious centers included a great temple of Re, along with other temples to Amun, Ptah and Sutekh (Set, or Seth). The remains of the temple dedicated to Sutekh have been located in the southern part of the city. There were probably many other smaller temples and chapels. We believe that among these were temples dedicated to Wadjit and Astarte.

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Qantir, Ancient Pi-Ramesse

Unfortunately, it will probably require another twenty years for the Magnetic mapping alone to be finished. Proper excavations of such an areas as the stables would require a lifetime to complete.

Sais (Sa el-Hagar)
by John Warren

Sais, known as Zau in ancient Egyptian and today as Sa el-Hagar, is located in Egypt's Delta. It was the county's capital during the 26th Dynasty late in Egypt's history and was at various other times an important center. The city is known from the very beginning of Egyptian history from wooden labels associated with King Aha. It was probably always the capital of the 4th Lower Egyptian nome, which, until the 12th Dynasty, also incorporated what was to become the 4th nome. However, the city really came into a prominent position towards the end of the 8th century BC when Tefnakhte and Bocchoris (24th Dynasty)  rivaled the Nubian kings of the 25th Dynasty. It was also a major center for the worship of the Goddess Neith.
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Regrettably, the history of Egypt is skewed, particularly to the average reader, to the desert areas where the Pyramids are located and to the southern regions around Luxor and Aswan.  The reason for this is that in the Delta, monuments are most often in a much worse state of repair due to water damage.  We may never know the splendors that might have been because the ancient building projects are often either completely gone, or only fragmentary bits and pieces remain.  

Left: Statue of the 26th Dynasty Ruler probably found at Sais.

This is the case with Sais.  While it was an important center, not much remains and much of what we know comes from documentary evidenced found elsewhere as opposed to archaeological discoveries at Sais itself. In fact, It is Herodotus who mostly tells us of its temples, royal palaces and tombs.  There have actually been few archaeological excavations around the city, and those that have been carried out have for the most part been small and unsuccessful. Even as late as the middle of the 19th century, there were some remaining mud brick walls, but by the end of that century, only a trace could be found of a huge rectangular enclosure. The rapid demise in this case was probably due to farmers who use the mud brick for fertilizer. Stone blocks were reused in the Middle Ages, and today, only isolated stone blocks remain.

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However, in 1997, the Egyptian Exploration Society did mount a fairly substantial survey to Sais, and they appear to continue some work in the area.  They were able to trace the last vestiges of the enclosure wall. They have turned up some interesting data, including core samples that seem to contain pottery shards from the predynastic period.  And while their evidence suggests that after the Saite kings, the city shrank back to its most glorious period, indications are that the Temple of Neith may have rivaled in size and splendor that of the Temple of Karnak. The society maintains that, contrary to appearances, there is probably considerable excavation work that needs to be carried out in the area.

Right: A statue of Chief of Physicians, Psammetik-seneb, originally installed in Sais.

What is more evident from Sais is a substantial number of artifacts, including statues, stelae and sarcophagi scattered about in various museums throughout the world.  Most of these date from the 26th Dynasty, but none so far have turned up that are earlier than the 3rd Intermediate Period.

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We know, for example, that that Amasis (Ahmose II) was an extremely active builder within the city, erecting a pylon for the Temple of Neith, setting up colossal statues and even creating a human-headed sphinx processional way.  The enclosure of Neith where her main cult center was located seems to have been a focus of building projects and the Kings of the 26th Dynasty were interred in chapel tombs in the courtyard of her temple.  However, there were also provisions for other Egyptian gods including Osiris, Horus, Sobek, Atum, Amun, Bastet, Isis, Nekhbet, Wadjet and Hathor.  

There were specifically building projects surrounding the God, Osiris, including a burial place and a sacred lake where rituals of the Festival of the Resurrection of Osiris were celebrated.  This site was impressive, with obelisks and other adornments that are now mostly ruined.

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Today Sais is not really a tourist destination and most non-archaeological visits are met with disappointment.  However, the city may one day help Egyptologists better understand the structure of communities and their inhabitants in the Delta.

Tanis (San El-Hagar)
by Jimmy Dunn

Whether Tanis is considered to be the most important archaeological site in Egypt's northern Delta or not, it is almost certainly one of the largest and most impressive. Nevertheless, it is characterized by an eclectic reuse of materials that were usurped from other locations and earlier reigns.  Tanis was actually its Greek name. We are told that its ancient Egyptian name was Djanet. Tanis was built upon the Nile distributary known as Bahr Saft, which is now only a small silted up stream that dispatches into Lake Manzalla.
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Napoleon Bonaparte had the site surveyed in the late 1700s, but afterwards, in the early 1800s, most of the work at Tanis was concerned with the collection of statuary. Jean-Jacques Rifaud took two large pink granite sphinxes to Paris, where The Processional way leading up to the Temple of Amun at Tanisthey became a part of the Louvre collection. Other statues were taken to Saint Petersburg and Berlin. Henry Salt and Bernardino Drovetti found eleven statues, some of which were also sent to the Louvre, but also to Berlin and Alexandria, though those sent to Alexandria are now lost.

Auguste Mariette was the first to really excavate the site between1860 and 1864. It was he who discovered the famous Four Hundred Year Stela, as well as several royal statues, many of which were dated to the Middle Kingdom. A plan of the main Temple of Amun and that of Mut, Khonsu and AstarteHowever, he mistakenly identified it as the ancient Hyksos capital of Avaris (Tell el-Dab'a). He also thought that it might have been Ramesses II's residence city of Piramesse (Pi-Ramesses).

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Mariette was followed by Flinders Petrie, who excavated here between 1883-86. Petrie made a detailed plan of the temple precinct, copied inscriptions and excavated exploratory trenches. Roman era papyrus discovered by Petrie are now in the British Museum.

Pierre Montet, excavated at Tanis between 1921 and 1951, and the site is still being excavated by the French today. It was Montet who conclusively proved that Tanis could not have been Avaris (Tell el-Dab'a) or Piramesse. Montet also discovered royal tombs of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties at Tanis in 1939, but his discovery resulted in little recognition An overview of some of the ruins at Tanisbecause of the outbreak of World War II. The tombs were all subterranean and built from mud-brick and reused stone blocks, many of which were inscribed.  Four of the tombs belonged to Psusennes I (1039-991 BC), Amenemope (993-984 BC), Osorkon II (874-850 BC) and Sheshonq III (825-733 BC).  The occupants of the other two tombs are unknown. However, the hawk-headed silver coffin of Sheshonq II was also found in Psusennes' tomb, as well as the coffin and sarcophagus of Amenemope. The sarcophagus of Takelot II (850-825 BC) was found in the tomb of Osorkon II. The artifacts from the Tanis necropolis are the most important source of knowledge covering royal funerary goods of the Third Intermediate Period.

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Poor old, tired Ramesses the Great rests in the sand at Tanis
Poor old, tired Ramesses the Great rests in the sand at Tanis

During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, the region was known as the Field of Dja'u, which was a good fishing and fowling preserve. Today, the area is often called San al-Hagar, which actually Another huge statue of Ramesses IIrefers to the northern tell (or hill) where much of the site is located. San al-Hagar is actually the largest tell in Egypt, encompassing some 177 hectares of land, and rising about 32 meters. However, there is also a southern mound known as Tulul el-Bid. San al-Hagar is also the name of the local village, which was built upon the western quay of ancient Tanis.

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Originally, the region was a part of the thirteenth nome (province), but Tanis became the capital of the nineteenth Lower Egyptian nome in the late period (747-332 BC). The earliest mention of the town is known from a 19th Dynasty building block of Ramesses II discovered at Memphis. However, nothing at the site itself suggest an existence prior to the 20th Dynasty. 20th Dynasty burials lie under an enclosure wall, which indicate  a settlement, but the greater metropolis was probably not founded until the reign of Ramesses XI, the last king of the 20th Dynasty, when Egypt was divided between two rulers. It became the northern capital of Egypt during the 21st Dynasty. It was probably the home city of Smedes, the founder of that Dynasty and, since one of his canopic jars was found in the vicinity, probably the location of his tomb. Though there were rival cities, we believe it remained Egypt political capital during the 22nd Dynasty.

By the Roman Period, the port of Tanis had silted up, and Tanis became a fairly minor village. Most of the temple limestone was burned for its lime at that time. During Byzantine times, Tanis became a small bishopric, but it was eventually abandoned during Islamic times, and was not resettled until the reign of Muhammad Ali Pasha.

Presumably (Khonsu is clear), the Tanis Triad rest next to a pharaoh wearing only the White Crown, associated with Upper or Southern EgyptThere were a number of temples, seven according to the Egyptian government, located in the area of Tanis. The chief deities worshiped here were Amun, his consort, Mut and their child Khonsu, who formed the Tanite Triad. Note that this triad is, however, identical to that of Thebes, leading many scholars to refer to Tanis as the "northern Thebes".

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The earliest recorded building at Tanis dates to the reign of Psusennes I, Smedes's probable successor during the 21st Dynasty. He was responsible for the huge mud-brick enclosure wall surrounding the temple of Amun between four ranges of hills on Tell San el-Hagar. which he erected in a depression of virgin sand some eight meters above the flood plain using earlier blocks quarried from structures at Piramesse,  The wall measures 430 by 370 meters 10 meters tall, and was 15 meters thick.  Within the outer wall is a mud-brick interior wall. Joint inscriptions of Psusennes I and Pinudjem I within the temple indicate a reconciliation between the thrones of Tanis and Thebes.

 However, rulers from the 21st and early 22nd Dynasties Nectanebo I Psamtek to construct the sacred lake.  added to the temple complex, and (380-362 BC) used stone from earlier building projects of Sheshonq and

An obelisk at Tanis clearly connected with Ramesses II, from the cartouch
An obelisk at Tanis clearly connected with Ramesses II, from the cartouch

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Tanis is shrewn with blocks, obelisks and columns that are difficult to project into any sort of structureToday the site is full of inscribed and decorated blocks, columns, obelisks and statues of various dates, some inscribed with the names of rulers such as Khufu, Khephren, Teti, Pepi I and II and Senusret I. However, the majority of inscribed monuments are connected with Ramesses II, though these items must have been brought in for there is no evidence that the site dates from before the reign of Psusennes I. He is positively attested by foundation deposits in the sanctuary in the easternmost part of the great temple. Other later kings are also attested to through foundation The tip of an obelisk sits upright at Tanisdeposits. Egyptologists believe that the artifacts of Ramesses II were probably imported from ancient Piramesse, which we today identify with the modern town of Qantir.

Near the southwestern corner of the main temple complex are smaller temples dedicated to Mut and KhonsuAstarte, an Asiatic goddess, was also worshiped in these smaller temple, which were originally built under the reign of Siamun (984-965 BC). This construct therefore completed the ensemble of structures fashioned after Karnak, and thus making Tanis into a northern replica of Thebes.

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There were other structures within the enclosure wall, in particular a sed-festival chapel and a temple of Psamtik I, but these were some of the stones used by Nectanebo I in his building efforts. Osorkon II usurped many of the earlier monuments of the Amun Temple to built an East  Temple, using granite palmiform columns dating to the Old Kingdom that were re-inscribed first by Ramesses II prior to their reuse, and then once again by himself. Sheshonq III built the West Gate of the temple precinct from reused obelisks and temple blocks, some from the Old and Middle Kingdom. It was fronted by a colossal statue usurped from Ramesses II.

A procession of nome gods at TanisDuring the Late Period, the Nubian king Piye of the 25th Dynasty conquered Tanis and King Taharqa, a successor made it his residence for a short time. Some reliefs from that dynasty have been found reused in the Sacred Lake's walls. Afterwards, Tanis passed back and forth between Nubian, Assyrian and Saite rulers until the 26th Dynasty, when Psamtik built a kiosk at Tanis. It featured a procession of nome gods, but this structure was later dismantled and reused in other structures. During the First Persian Occupation of Egypt, no further building seems to have taken place at Tanis.

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Necktanebo I, during the 30th Dynasty, probably was responsible for an enormous outer wall built of brick, as well as a temple to Khonsu that was annexed to the northern side of the old Amun temple, near the Northern Gate. However, it was not completed until the Ptolemaic period. There was also a temple of Horus, near the East Gate, that was begun during the 30th Dynasty, but it too was completed by the Ptolemies. Ptolemy I built the East Gate of the precinct, and Ptolemy II and Arsinoe dedicated a small brick chapel, while Ptolemy IV built a temple in the southwestern Mut enclosure. However, by this time, the Amun temple was almost certainly abandoned, as there were Ptolemaic era housed built over the structure.

The Pylon of Sheshonq IIIToday, the site of Tanis mostly consists of large mounts of occupational debris. The temple precinct lies in the middle of these mounds. The huge enclosure walls are now mostly gone, and one may enter the site from several directions, though the classical route is through the ruined pylon of Sheshonq III. Within, the site is littered with fallen statuary, reused columns ranging in date from the Old through the New Kingdoms, around fifteen reused obelisks of Ramesses II, and reused temple blocks from all periods. At the center of the Amun temple are two deep wells The Nilometer Well at Tanisthat once served as Nilometers. The northern corner is the site of the ancient Sacred Lake, while at the southeastern corner, outside the main temple precinct, is the smaller precinct where the temples of Mut, Khonsu and Astarte were located.

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Tanis is probably not one of those sites one would wish to visit on a one time, short tour of Egypt. However, for those on a second trip, or with a little additional time, it is a very nice tour through Egypt's Delta, including perhaps a stopover at Tell Busta, further south. Such a tour would usually only take one day.

The Royal Tombs of Tanis
by Jimmy Dunn

A view of the royal necropolis at Tanis
A view of the royal necropolis at Tanis

The tombs of a number of kings of the Third Intermediate Period were constructed at Tanis (modern San el-Hagar). During the Third Intermediate Period, Tanis was the principal seat of government and in all, seven burials of rulers from the 21st and 22nd Dynasties have been found there since 1939.  By no means does this represent all of the kings of these two dynasties, with the notable absences being Smedes (Smendes) and Amenemnisu of the 21st Dynasty, and Shoshenq I and Osorkon I of the 22nd Dynasty.

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Montet first discovered the royal necropolis at Tanis in 1939, after spending some time concentrating on the temple area of this district. The superstructures of the earlier tombs had been cleared away by subsequent domestic building by the Ptolemies, so these tombs were largely hidden. The archaeologists had been given clues by finding a gold amulet and canopic jars of Osorkon in the area, but it came as a great surprise when, on February 27th, 1939, Montet and his team found their first tomb (now called NRT- I) close to the southwestern corner of the temple.

The known royal tombs at Tanis consist of:

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Tomb Primary Occupant Dynasty Other Royal Occupants Dynasty NRT-1 Osorkon II 22nd Takelot I
Shoshenq (V?) 22nd NRT-II Pami 22nd None
NRT-III Psusennes I 21st Amenemope
Siamun
Psusennes II
Shoshenq II 21st


22nd NRT-IV None: built for Amenemope 21st

NRT-V Shoshenq III 22nd Shoshenq IV 22nd NRT-VI Not Known 21st/22nd

NRT-VII Not Known  22nd
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Osorkon II was buried in a gigantic granite sarcophagus with a lid carved from a Ramesside period group statue, but only some debris of a hawk-headed coffin and canopic jars remained in the robbed tomb to identify this king. His young son Harnakht who had the title of High Priest of Amun at Tanis and who had died before his father, shared Osorkon II's burial chamber. Takelot I (formerly identified as Takelot II) was buried in a Middle Kingdom sarcophagus in a redecorated chamber of the tomb with a few remains of burial equipment inscribed for Osorkon I. Another chamber contained the remains of a reburial of Shoshenq III. There is the possibility that Shoshenq V was also subsequently buried in NRT I, evidenced by his canopic equipment.

Interestingly, however, an architectural study of tomb NRT-I clearly shows that it was constructed before NRT-III, resulting in suggestions that the historical order that has normally been assigned to their occupants should be reversed. The outer wall of tomb NRT-1 was trimmed to accommodate NRT-III and also NRT-III's chambers were arranged to avoid the earlier tomb. Hence, this chronological anomaly has been used to argue that Osorkon II (22nd Dynasty), actually preceded Psusennes I (21st Dynasty) on the throne. The gap in the royal sequence has also been used, along with another gap in the sequence of Apis bulls at Saqqara, to support a radical revision of the relative placement of kings and dynasties during this period.

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Plan of the Royal Tombs at Tanis
Plan of the Royal Tombs at Tanis

However, the issue of Osorkon II's tomb and the lack of a tomb for Smedes are intimately connected to the issue of dating the reigns of these kings. It has been shown that there is enough structure evidence to support a conclusion that considerable modifications were made to NRT-I. Furthermore, both NRT-I and NRT-III are unique at Tanis. Both of these tombs have granite burial chambers within a basic limestone structure, while all the other tombs built at Tanis were constructed purely of limestone, and are much simpler in design.

Considering the modification that were made to NRT-I, it has been suggested that this tomb very likely originally belonged to Smedes. One of his canopic jarsOsorkon II added decorations to this tomb, as well as altering the eastern part of the burial chamber, providing a sarcophagus for his father, Takelot I, as well as a new sarcophagus for himself. In doing so, he dismantled the west wall of the burial chamber, also adding a sarcophagus for his son. Therefore, rather than a radical revision of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, we have instead an usurped tomb which was not at all uncommon in Egypt. was purchased nearby this tomb, and though there was no trace of any decoration belonging to him in NRT-I, this means nothing, for tombs NRT-II, IV, VI and VII all had their walls left bare. Apparently,

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Anklet of Psusennes IIf we allocate NRT-I initially to Smedes, this still leaves Amenemnisu without a tomb. It is possible that this king was buried in NRT-VI, though considering an epithet within his cartouche naming him as "Ruler of Thebes", it is also possible that he was buried in southern Egypt. 

However, the next two kings of the 21st Dynasty, Psusennes I and Amenemope (Amenope) both have tombs at Tanis, although the mummy of Amenemope was latter placed in NRT-III.  The tomb of Psusennes I was an amazing find, with five chambers and containing the silver falcon-headed coffin of Shoshenq II, who before the tomb's discovery was unknown to Egyptologists. Two completely decayed mummies in the antechamber of NRT-III appear, strictly on the basis of funerary figurines found with them, to be those of Siamun and Psusennes II (the last ruler of the 21st Dynasty). They may have been buried in this modest fashion because of the eclipse of the 21st Dynasty line that accompanied the foundation of the 22nd Dynasty. Psusennes I's burial chamber was discovered lying undisturbed behind a decorated wall. He was interred in a granite sarcophagus which had once belonged to Merenptah, the 19th Dynasty ruler and son of Bracelet of Sheshonq IIRamesses II. Within this sarcophagus, was a granite coffin which in turn contained a coffin of solid silver, a gold mummy-board and a solid gold mask covering the face of Psusennes I.

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Around the sarcophagus were piled his canopic jars, funerary figurines and other burial goods, a rich find indeed. A chamber on the other side of that of Psusennes I was prepared for his mother, Queen Mutnodjmet, but her sarcophagus was found to contain the body of king Amenemope, encased in a coffin of gilded wood. Another chamber was found to contain the empty coffin of a general Ankhefenmut, but it was not until excavations resumed after World War II (this time by Alexandre Lezine) that a final chamber was found which revealed the undisturbed burial of another military man, Wendjebauendjed along with quantities of jewelry and burial equipment.

After Amenemope, no dedicated royal tomb is known at Tanis until the time of Osorkon II. It is unclear why Amenemope was buried in the tomb of Psusennes I, for he had his own tomb, NRT-IV, prepared with a beautiful sarcophagus. After Osorkon II, Shoshenq III, who was buried in a sarcophagus which was originally a 13th Dynasty lintel, built his own tomb (NRT-V). His funeral was probably conducted by Shoshenq IV, whose own sarcophagus was found in this tomb alongside that of his predecessor.

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Unfortunately, nothing is known of the burials of the first Libyan kings, consisting of Osochor, Shoshenq I and Osorkon I, with the exception of the canopic chest of Shoshenq I now in Berlin. However, the province of its discovery is unknown. Possibly, one of these kings could have been buried in NRT-VI, but this is a very modest tomb and it is unlikely that it belonged to either Shoshenq I or Osorkon I. 

One possible clue to the problem of the tombs at Tanis surrounds a third body, belonging to Shoshenq II, that was found in the antechamber of the tomb belonging to Psusennes I. Shoshenq II was probably a co-regent of Osorkon I. He was interred in a silver coffin which showed evidence of having been moved to this location from elsewhere. There was plant growth discovered on the mummy which was consistent with it having originally stood in water, and there is no evidence of flooding in NRT-III. Hence, the mummy had first been buried in a different tomb which was subjected to standing water, presumably well away from Tanis. If Shoshenq II's burial occurred originally elsewhere, then so too might have the burials of earlier members of his family, perhaps near Bubastis, which seems to have been the home town for members of the new dynasty.

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This scenario would also explain Osorkon II's usurpation of an old tomb rather than the building of a new one, as well as the situation of providing a chamber within it for his father. It is likely that the flooding of the tombs of Shoshenq II and Takelot I, and perhaps even his own intended tomb, could have forced Osorkon II back to the old necropolis at Tanis.

What the tombs of Tanis give us is a wealth of information about the burial customs of this period and a clearer idea of the genealogy of the rulers and family and political relationships between Tanis and Thebes. The kings of the 21st Dynasty liked to reuse sarcophagi or usurp older pieces from the New or Middle Kingdom periods. Their tombs were furnished with a considerable amount of equipment in the form of vessels and precious metals, funerary figurines and canopic jars, which perhaps could be said to demonstrate their attachment to the burial traditions of the past. The technical capabilities of the craftsmen and metalworkers probably equaled those of the earlier New Kingdom. However, in comparison to the New Kingdom tombs, those at Tanis are meager and there was apparently a tendency to eliminate the everyday objects in preference to specific funerary and magical items. Likely, the Tanis burials reveal the poverty of the northern kings, who seemed to have quantities of precious metals at their disposal but had to re-use sarcophagi and canopic jars from earlier burials. Today, excavation work is still being conducted at Tanis, so while there are many questions remaining, perhaps one day the mysteries of the Third Intermediate Period will eventually be solved.

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For Information on Ezbet Rushdi, Tell Far'un (Tell Fara'un), Kom el-Hisn (ancient Imu), Kom Abu Billo (known to the Greeks as Terenuthis) and Tell el-Maskhuta near Ismaliya, see part two of this series.. For information on Tell el-Muqdam (Leontopolis), Tell el-Qirqafa and Tell el-Rub'a (Tell El Robee, Greek Mendes) see part three in this series and for information on Tell el-Retaba, Saft el-Hinna, Samannud (Sebennytos) and Tell el-Yahudiya, see part four.

It is very easy to think that most building activity occurred in southern Egypt, but this is because the conditions in the Egyptian delta are not conducive to surviving structures. For all of the period prior to the building of the High Dam just south of Aswan, it was flooded yearly, burying any buildings remains which are often even underneath the water table! Often, our best source of information on these temples and other remains are not archaeological digs, but ancient documentation.

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Abusir

This area is not to be confused with the pyramid field named Abusir near Saqqara. It is located about 48 km (30 miles) west of Alexandria, and is the site of the ancient Taposiris Magna, which was an important city of the Ptolemaic Period. The temple we call Taposiris Mana probably dates from the same period.  The temple was dedicated to Osiris. Only the outer wall, which were strangely made of limestone, while most other structures in the Delta during this period were made of mudbrick, and the pylons remain from the temple. There is evidence to prove that sacred animals were worshipped there. Archeologists found an animal necropolis near the temple. Remains of a Christian church show that the temple was used as a church in later centuries. Also found in the same area are remains of public baths built by the emperor Justinian, a seawall, quays and a bridge. Near the beach side of the area, we can see the remains of a tower built by Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The tower was an exact replica of the destroyed Alexandria's Pharos Lighthouse. 

Tell Atrib (Athribis)

This site is located just to the northeast of the modern town of Benha on the Damietta branch of the Nile, about 48 miles north of Cairo. It is the site of ancient Hut-hery-ib, called Athribis by the Greeks. Today, it is called Kom Sidi Youssuf. It was the capital of this nome (10th), and the city's history dates back into the Old Kingdom period. A number of kings built here, including Amenhotep III, who's northernmost building project was a temple in the city. It is now completely gone, but the remains of a number of temples has been located. Several of these date to the Graeco-Roman period, and another dates to the reign of the King Amasis, of Egypt's Late Period. Unfortunately, the ruins are too destroyed to even allow a full Minor Temple and Other Ruins of the Nile Delta reconstruction. Most of the minor monuments found here can be dated to the 25th through 30th Dynasties, with none being earlier than the 12th Dynasty. There is also an extensive Graeco-Roman cemetery. Some 26th to 30th Dynasties silver ingots and jewelry that were found at the Athribis site that are now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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Unfortunately, considerable excavation work needs to be done in the location quickly, for the area is slowly sinking even has modern apartment buildings are being built atop it. It is the Polish-Egyptian Archaeological Mission that is carrying out this work. 

There work has been concentrated in the northwestern part of the Ptolemaic quarter, where the remains of workshops and a bath compound had been found. In the area extending west and southwest of the baths, three different Ptolemaic strata could be distinguished. The majority of the ceramic material found here was produced by local workshops. The vessels demonstrate a continuation of ancient Egyptian traditions or an imitation of Greek patterns, or a combination of both. Such mixed traditions are also visible in the terracotta figurines found in the Ptolemaic strata. Various furnaces and stoves were unearthed, and workshops for the production of faience vessels and the sculpting of limestone votive objects could be identified. The excavations of the Mid-Ptolemaic baths were continued as well.

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Ausim (Letopolis)

Ausim is located only about 13 kilometers northwest of Cairo, and is the site of the ancient Egyptian town of Khem. The Greeks called it Letopolis. It was the capital of the second Lower Egyptian nome. Ausim is an ancient city, and it, along with its principle god, Khenty-irty (Khenty-Khem) are both mentioned in text dating to the Old Kingdom. Though this god probably had a temple in the city, we have found nothing of it, and the few scattered and fragmentary remains that have been found bear the names of Necho II, Psammetichus II, Hakoris and Nectanebo I, of the 26th through 30th Dynasties

Behbeit el-Hagar

Behbeit el-Hagar

Behbeit el-Hagar is located about 8 km (5 miles) west of el-Mansura. It is situated on the Damietta branch of the Nile very near Samannud, which in ancient times was known as Sebennytos, and was the home of the kings of the 30th Dynasty. The temple at Behbeit el-Hagar was dedicated to Isis, to whom the 30th Dynasty kings were particularly devoted. Behbeit el-Hagar Egyptologists believe that it was one of the most important temples to Isis in Egypt, possibly acting as a northern counterpart of the Isis temple at Philae. In fact, some inscriptions to Isis in the temple probably predate those at Philae. Within its enclosure walls, some remains of the early Ptolemaic Period temple may still be seen. However, the temple has collapsed, possible as early as the late in Egypt's dynastic history. Almost uniquely, however, the structure seems to have been built almost entirely out of granite. So fine are the carved reliefs of the wall decorations, which well surpasses that found in the Ptolemaic temples of Upper Egypt, that in classical times one block from the temple was transported to the chief Isis temple at Rome. 

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Recently, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has decided to use computers to reconstruct the Temple of Isis there. Plans call for determining the basic layout of the temple, then replicating that in stone. Accompanying excavations in the area should yield exciting new information about the Late and Ptolemaic periods. 

Tell el-Dab'a

Tell el-Dab'aLocated just east of Tell el-qirqafa, near the village of el-Khata'na, about six kilometers north of Faqus in the eastern Nile Delta, this is likely the site of the Hyksos era capital of Avaris. However, even as early as the 12th Dynasty, apparently the Egyptian royalty granted liberal access to the town of Tell el-Dab'a, which seems to have become something like a free trading town. This probably resulted in the marked increase in the number of settlers of Syro-Palestinian origin. Very little remains here, but the site is apparently being excavated by a Czech team at this time. Other archaeologists in the region seem to include the Austrian Archaeological Institute of Cairo and the Institute of Egyptology of the University of Vienna.  It has a complex history, and New Kingdom building activity by Horemheb and the Ramessids included a large temple which was probably dedicated to the god, Seth.

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Apparently the Austrian teams are investigating a mortuary precinct with several necropolises dating to the 2nd Intermediate Period. These included several strata of burials dating from the late 13th Dynasty to the very end of the Hyksos Period. Three main types of burials were found, including vaulted mud brick tombs set into pits, simple pit burials, and infant burials in large vessels of Egyptian and foreign origin. There are 32 burials in this relatively small area. Interestingly, most of the tombs were undisturbed. 

The most prominent tomb in the area was orientated NW-SE with the burial chamber (measuring 2,65 x 1,65 m) and single vault constructed of mud-bricks. The vault collapsed some time after the covering of the tomb and seemed therefore to be destroyed by grave-robbers. Luckily, this conclusion was incorrect. A single skeleton was found in the entrance area together with a round bottomed cup and a jar. Next to the northeastern wall a young female servant was buried in a slightly contracted position looking towards the tomb chamber. The body was placed in this position at the time of the main burial. Because of the circumstances of this and other burials of the period there is a strong possibility that the girl was offered to her master as a human sacrifice. This would have been a very rare occurrence practically unheard of since the earliest of of Egypt's history.

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Apparently, the owner of the tomb was a soldier. He was buried with his weapons and an assemblage of different pottery types. Bones of goats or sheep placed on a dish next to his head are remains of a meat offering. He wore a copper belt with an attached dagger with five middle ribs on his left side. In his arms he held a scimitar still in its sheath. The sword itself was made of copper and well preserved; the sheath, consisting of an organic material, probably leather, is still to be examined, the handle was made of bone. The blade is cast with a riveted socket, it's point voluted and therefore unique. It is the oldest specimen of this type yet found in Egypt.

An overall view of the funerary equipment in combination with Egyptian and foreign goods and Egyptian and foreign habits confirms the typical picture of most tombs belonging to this period in Tell el-Dab'a. The tomb is accompanied by several other partly excavated tombs and seems to be at the center of the group, possibly a hint at social implications.

In addition, the Austrian team has recently unearthed a number of horse burials at Tell el-Dab'a.

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Minor Temple and Other Ruins of the Nile Delta of Egypt, Part II
by Monroe Edgar

This is the continuation of Part I in this series examining minor ruins of temples and other monuments in the Nile Delta. For information on Abusir (in the Delta), Tell Atrib (Arhribis), Ausim (Letopolis), Behbeit el-Hagar, and Tell el-Dab'a, as well as a listing of the major ruins in the Nile Delta, please see Minor Temple and Other Ruins of the Nile Delta, Part I. In this article, we will take a look at the sites of Ezbet Rushdi, Tell Far'un (Tell Fara'un), Kom el-Hisn (ancient Imu), Kom Abu Billo (known to the Greeks as Terenuthis) and Tell el-Maskhuta near Ismaliya. For information on Tell el-Muqdam (Leontopolis), Tell el-Qirqafa and Tell el-Rub'a (Tell El Robee, Greek Mendes) see part three in this series and for information on Tell el-Retaba, Saft el-Hinna, Samannud (Sebennytos) and Tell el-Yahudiya, see part four.

Ezbet Rushdi

Ground Plan of the Temple at Ezbet Rushdi in EgyptToday known as Ezbet Rushdi el-Saghira, this site near Tell el-Dab'a was apparently the location of a Middle Kingdom town. The local temple, discovered during the 1950s by an Egyptian archaeologist named Shehata Adam, seems to have been founded by Amenemhet I and probably expanded by Senusret III in his 5th year of rule. Both of these rulers reigned during Egypt's 12th Dynasty. The temple was primarily made of mudbrick but had some stone architectural elements such as doorways and columns. The structure's design was typical of Middle Kingdom temples, with a small pillared court followed by a tripartite sanctuary.

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In 1996, the Austrian Archaeological Institute under the directorship of Manfred Bietak decided to re-excavate the temple. It was a major surprise to discover that the temple wall cut into the structures of an older settlement that stretch beneath it. This lower strata has yielded a lot of purely domestic pottery, and some pottery types which are related to cult activities were discovered. Hence, it is believed that there was probably an earlier temple cult on this site. Canaanite and Aegean pottery, much of it dating from about the time of Amenemhet II, was present in most of the substrata, but showed different distribution patterns. Prior to this excavation, the earliest finds of pottery from the Levant and Crete dated to the very end of the 12th Dynasty, but these pieces likely date from the first half or middle of that dynasty. 

Tell Far'un

Near the eastern Delta village of el-Huseiniya are the ancient remains of the Egyptian city named Imet. Today, it is called Tell Far'un, or sometimes Tell Nabasha or Tell Bedawi. The city was the capital of the local nome and the local deity was Wadjit  The outlines of a temple enclosure dedicated to her may still be seen. It measures 215 x 205 meters (705 x 673 ft). From the scant ruins, there appearss to be two temples within the enclosure. The larger of the two was a Ramessid era temple measuring 65 x 30 m (213 x 98 ft 6 in). The smaller temple to the northeast of the Ramessid temple dates from the Late Period, and was 30 x 15m (98 ft 6 in x 49 ft). It was apparently built during the reign of Amasis. There are usurped architectural elements form Middle Kingdom monuments, which seems to imply that there was once a temple of that period here as well.

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Petrie, who explored the area, also discovered a cemetery that he thought turned out to be a very curious place, quite unlike the cemeteries of Memphis, Abydos, and Thebes. It consisted of an immense number of small chambers, or isolated groups of chambers, scattered irregularly over a sandy plain. These were built of unbaked brick and roofed using a  barrel-vault design. Some of the largest were cased (or lined if subterranean) with limestone. These tomb chambers dated from about the period of the 20th Dynasty (Ramessid period). Unfortunately, most of these tombs had been plundered early on, and some even leveled so that new tombs could be built. 

In one of the earlier tombs no fewer than two hundred uninscribed funerary statuettes in green-glazed pottery were found. In another, some thirty thousand beads of glass, silver, and lapis lazuli were also discovered. Bronze spear-heads, amulets, scarabs and other items were also turned up in considerable numbers. Last, but in point of interest certainly not least, came the discovery of two sets of masonic (foundation) deposits under the corners of an unimportant building in the cemetery. These consisted of miniature mortars, corn-rubbers, and specimen plaques of materials used in building, such as glazed-ware, various colored marbles, jasper, and the like.
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A magnificent gray granite sarcophagus inscribed for a prince and priest of the 26th Dynasty, and part of a limestone statue dedicated to Harpakhrat, the "child Horus," whose legendary birthplace was in these Delta marshlands, were also discovered.  Among other valuable items unearthed in the course of Petrie's excavations included a black granite altar from the reign of Amenemhet II, two thrones in red sandstone belonging to statues of royal personages of the same line, a colossal seated statue of Ramesses II in black granite, and most interesting of all, a headless black granite sphinx, upon which successive Pharaohs had engraved their cartouches, each in turn erasing the names and titles of his predecessors.

Kom el-Hisn

Ruins of the Temple at Kom el-HisnBetween Kom Abu Billo and Naukratis lies what is left of the ancient town of Imu (imAw), today known as Kom el-Hisn. In Arabic, Kom el-Hisn means "Hill of the Fort", probably referring to the ruins of the local temple.

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In text, we find the name of this community mentioned as early as the 5th Dynasty, so it is not surprising that at least several excavations have also revealed a rich Old Kingdom occupation fairly near the modern ground level, and above the water table. A large part of the structures so far investigated were related to food storage and preparation. These included facilities for large scale grain storage, as well as specialized structures for cooking, plant and animal processing. The overall impression is that Kom el-Hisn functioned as a specialized center for cattle processing. The community probably sent most of its herds to Memphis and other cult and settlement areas. In the same nome as Kom el-Hisn was another town designated as "The Estate of the Cattle," or Hwt-iHwt, which was one of the oldest of the state foundations in all of Egypt, dating to the reign of King Den of the 1st Dynasty

Imu was an important New Kingdom local administrative center as well. In antiquity, it was situated near a branch of the Nile that has since shifted eastward and was near the desert edge on the route to the Libyan frontier. A temple of Sekhmet-Hathor (here, Hathor is known as Het-Hert) was located in the town, but all that remains of it today is the outline of a rectangular enclosure. The site was identified by inscribed statues of Amenemhet III and Ramesses II found in the area.

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Information about Het-Hert's worship in this location comes from the New Kingdom grave of Khesuwer. He was a priest of Het-Hert and Supervisor of the Priests and of the temple precinct. His designation as Chief of the Harem and Chief of the Maidens probably denotes a position as supervisor of the women who were in the service of Het-Hert. During the 19th Dynasty, Ramesses II renovated the temple and in the 22nd Dynasty, Sheshonq III expanded it. In the Late Period, the town was known as pr-nbt-imau, meaning "Domain of the Mistress of Imau". Regrettably, much of the ruins of Kom el-Hisn are rapidly yielding to agricultural expansion in the area. 

Kom Abu Billo (Terenuthis)

Just outside the town of Tarranam, a name derived from the Coptic era name of Terenouti,, known in classical times as Terenuthis, lies the mound of Kom Abu Billo. Actually, Kom Abu Billo refers specifically to the part of the site where the Greco-Roman cemetery is found, and this name probably derives from the Greek god Apollo, who had a temple at the northern edge of the site. The site lies on the western edge of the Delta about 70 kilometers northwest of Cairo. It sits on the Rosetta branch of the Nile, and  is located on the route to the Wadi Natrun, today famous for its monasteries but in ancient times a source for Natrun (salt). The name of the ancient city appears to be connected with the snake goddess Renenutet or Termuthis, so we assume that they were important local deities.

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A Depiction in the Temple at Kom Abu Billo (Terenuthis)However, the area may have been earlier known as Per-Huthor-nbt-Mefket, or the "House of Hathor, Lady of Turquoise"". In fact, in 1897, F.L.I. Griffith discovered a temple dedicated to this Goddess, who was also worshiped in the Sinai,. This is an alternate guise for Hathor as the Mistress of Mefket (Turquoise). The temple may have been started by Ptolemy I, the first ruler of Egypt's Greek period, and may have been completed by his son, Ptolemy II. If so, it would be one of the few surviving monuments built by the founder of the Greek Dynasty. 

Most of the excavation of this temple actually took place between 1969 and 1974, when the construction of the Nasser Canal required a salvage exploration of the site. The ruins of this temple contained blocks with finely carved bas relief scenes depicting Ptolemy I and Hathor. A cattle cemetery associated with the worship of Het-Hert (Hathor) was also found in the vicinity. In addition faience statues and statuettes inscribed with hieroglyphs of Yinepu, Aset (Isis), Taweret and Bes were found at this site.

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The large cemetery of Kom Abu Billo contains thousands of tombs dating from the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom through the 4th century AD Coptic Period. The Coptics (Egyptian Christians) were probably established in the area by St. Poemon, known as one of the fathers of the Egyptian Desert who settled in the ruins of the pagan temple during the Christian era. The mud-brick tombs have superstructures which are rectangular or square with barrel vaulted roofs or truncated pyramid shapes. New Kingdom ceramic coffins, sometimes called Philistine type coffins, or "slipper coffins" with large, often unusual and grotesque faces Ptolemy I Sorter from Kom Abu Billo modeled on the lids have been found there, in addition to a special type of stele made during the first four centuries of the Common Era. 

Right: Ptolemy I Sorter from Kom Abu Billo

These non-Egyptian style stele, called "Terenuthis stelae", depict the deceased standing with upraised arms between two columns with Greek pediments, or reclining on a couch. Usually, they have text in demotic or Greek at the base.

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Evidence in the tombs suggest that offerings consisting of lettuce, grapes, and wine for the deceased. On occasions, lamps were lit within the tombs, while music was played. Hunting and fishing were common occupations of the people who lived here, but there were also many vintners, potters, jewelers, and other craftsmen. In addition, the area was known as a major trading center, particularly of wine and salt (Natrun).

Many ceramic lamps have been found within the tombs taking the shape of olive branches, Nile fish, and the frog Netjert Heket. In addition, gold and silver rings, bracelets, gold earrings, necklaces, hair clips, ivory combs, and amulets have been discovered. Pottery painted in different colors and dating from the end of the pharaonic period through the Coptic period, plus amphorae, have also turned up in excavations.
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Little evidence of the settlement with which these burials were associated has been found so precisely what was happening here in the New Kingdom is difficult to establish. Beyond the cemeteries, the only evidence of activity during this period seems to be a limestone block which bears the names and titles of Ramesses II. Other blocks ascribed to him have also been found in the area. It is possible that some of the foreigners buried in the unusual coffins in the necropolises may have been foreign soldiers employed by Ramesses II in the battle of Qadesh.

It has been suggests that this site may have been the southernmost in a chain of fortified settlements, though not much evidence exists to prove such. The cemeteries seem to indicate that a settlement existed in the area from the Old Kingdom which might, by the reign of Ramesses II, have been important enough to have required fortification. If so, it was because of its location at the head of the ancient route between the Delta and the Wadi Natrun.

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Tell el-Maskhuta

First excavated by Edouard Naville in 1883, Tjeku, known today as Tell el-Maskhuta, is strategically located in the Wadi Tumilat about 15 km west of the modern Suez Canal town of Ismaliya. Here, Naville unearthed a large enclosure (210 x 210  meters (689 x 689 ft), inside of which was a badly ruined temple to the god Atum. Naville believes it is the biblical city of Pithom (per Atum, meaning house of Atum), related in the story of the Exodus. 

However, a more recent excavation conducted by the University of Toronto under the direction of J. S. Holladay revealed that the site was founded by Necho (Nekau) II, well after the probable time of the Exodus. Further, their excavations showed that the site was probably associated with the building of a canal, one of the Suez Canal's early predecessors. This canal cut through the wadi (canyon) and connected with the northern reaches of the Gulf of Suez. However, soon after Necho the area declined in importance and the canal became unmanageable. The community seems to have been revived under Ptolemy II, who reopened the canal, as well as establishing a mortuary cult to Arsinoe II in the vicinity.

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Minor Temple and Other Ruins of the Nile Delta in Egypt, Part III
by Monroe Edgar

This is the continuation of Part II in this series examining minor ruins of temples and other monuments in the Nile Delta. For information on Abusir (in the Delta), Tell Atrib (Arhribis), Ausim (Letopolis), Behbeit el-Hagar, and Tell el-Dab'a, as well as a listing of the major ruins in the Nile Delta, please see Minor Temple and Other Ruins of the Nile Delta, Part I. For information on Ezbet Rushdi, Tell Far'un (Tell Fara'un), Kom el-Hisn (ancient Imu), Kom Abu Billo (known to the Greeks as Terenuthis) and Tell el-Maskhuta near Ismaliya, please see part two of the series and for information on Tell el-Retaba, Saft el-Hinna, Samannud (Sebennytos) and Tell el-Yahudiya, see part four.

Tell el-Muqdam (Leontopolis)

The Lion of LeontopolisAbout 10 kilometers (6.25 miles) southeast of the modern town of Mit Ghamir on the Damietta branch of the Nile are the several mounds that represent all that is left of ancient Taremu (Leontopolis, or "City of the Lions"). The ancient Egyptian name for the site means, "Land of the Fish". The remains cover more than 30 hectares (304,260 square meters). Some Egyptologists believe that  in ancient times, this was the home of the kings who ruled during Egypt's 23rd Dynasty, though most now locate the capital of this period at Thebes. It was also a regional capital during the Greek (Ptolemaic) Period and was probably the center of a powerful Delta kingdom during the Third Intermediate Period (about 1069 through 664 BC). It was also the ancient capital of the Eleventh Lower Egyptian Nome (province).

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Leontopolis was mentioned by Strabo in his Geography reference work, and the name appears sporadically in other classical and coptic documents. 

There was once a temple of the local lion-god, Mihos (hence, Leontopolis, "City of the Lions") located here, and while ruined, its location has been found on the eastern part of the site. However, it has not been completely investigated and the date of this temple is unknown. The goddess Bastet, who was considered the mother of Mihos, was probably also worshipped in the area.

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Notable were the excavations of C.C. Edgar in the area that produced the "Treasures of Queen Kama". Her apparently undisturbed sarcophagus provided a number of jewelry and other items, including a grand gilded silver pectoral with inlayed lazuli and a human headed scorpion amulet of gold and inlayed agate. A number of bronze inlay statues of Mihos (the lion) were also discovered in the area. 

Apparently, current excavations are being conducted at Tell el-Muqdam by UC Berkeley under the direction of Carol A. Redmount and Dr. Renee Friedman.. One of this group's objectives is to document these comparatively well preserved ruins in order to enhance our understanding of history including the development and the character of Egyptian urbanism, particularly in the Delta region. They also hope to gain valuable information on the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt's history, a time we know relatively little about, but this focus seems to be shifting into the Persian period.

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Some of the findings and discoveries of this group include:

  • No discoveries have been made that date prior to the Third Intermediate Period, when it is now believed the cities were founded (the newer Roman city was built beside the more ancient city).
  • Of the 24 sites documented at the turn of the century, only 9 still survive, due to the expansion of local agricultural land.
  • The site was probably originally located on the ancient Mendesian Nile branch, which slowly migrated eastward over a period of time, with the development of the area expanding towards this migration.
  • There is considerable evidence at the site suggesting trade with Greece and the Levant. 
  • One of the remaining sites located about a kilometer from Muqdam produced Third Intermediate Period pottery. Unfortunately, this site has recently been turned over to farmers for agricultural use. 
  • Atop the ruins were discovered a red granite torso of Ramesses II, and a red granite block with some of his titles.
  • Other surface discoveries include objects dating mainly from the Saite Period (664-525 BC) through the Late Roman/Coptic Period (about the 4th Century AD). 
  • From test excavations, a number of small items have been discovered. These test indicate that remains date from the Roman, Greek, Persian and Saite periods, and include domestic, industrial, monumental and possibly cult elements. Small items that have been discovered include erotic figurines, mostly male, a number of terra cottas, glass, amulets, including a wadjet eye mold, stamped jar handles originating outside of Egypt, a few sculpture fragments and many potsherds. 
  • The ruins of the site extend far beyond the ground water level. The bottom level of these layers has not yet been completely  identified, but it seem that the lowest level may be as much as four or more meters below the water level in places. Most of the earliest remains are, of course, beneath this ground water level. 
  • According to information provided to these excavators by locals, a cache of statues discovered here was smuggled out of Egypt as late as the 1970s.
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Some of the latest excavations have demonstrated that during the Saite period, and especially during the Persian period, the occupation of the site was very large and important. A number of different districts within the area have been identified, including an elite domestic district (Carnel Station), a non-elite domestic district (Qasr Station) and an industrial sector (Iuput Station). Within the domestic districts, the excavators have identified neighborhood fragments, including roads and houses. Apparently within this last district was located what was probably a Greek period bronze smelting installation. 

Tell el-Qirqafa

Tell el-Qirqafa is located near the village of el-Kjhata'na about 6 kilometers (3.75 miles) north of Faqus.  It is in the eastern Delta. There was apparently a temple located here that dated from the Middle Kingdom sometime between the reigns of Amenemhet I and Senusret III. We have not identified the deity or deities that were worshipped in the temple, but the remains of a granite entrance gate and a small pillared hall are known to Egyptologists.

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Recent excavations in the area have demonstrated three distinctive strata, with the deepest dating to the late Hyksos period and the latest to the New Kingdom. Recent objects discovered include, surprisingly, fragments of Minoan painted wall plaster and some 15- scarabs, 18 of which bear royal names of the early 8th Dynasty (First Intermediate Period).

Tell el-Rub'a (Tell El Robee, Greek Mendes)

The remains of the ancient sixteenth nome capital Djedet, or Per-banebdjedet (Greek Mendes), which means "House of the Ram Lord of djedet", are located in the northern Delta The Ram of Djedet in Egypt near the modern village of el-Simbellawein. It may have originally been known as Enebet to the ancient Egyptians. Known today as Tell el-Rub'a, it could have served as a royal residence or even the capital of the 29th Dynasty.

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The site has seen several excavations, mostly by North American groups including the University of Toronto and Pennsylvania Statue University team led by Donald Redford. Apparently some of the latest work of this group has focused on an Old Kingdom necropolis estimated to contain over 9,000 interments. 

Mendes was referred to in the sarcophagi Book as the Ba dwellers where Re and Osiris met and their Ba unified to conceive their son. Mendes was also mentioned in the geographic list Mastaba tombs and houses uncovered at Tell el-Rub'a in 1977 carved over the white compartment in the Karnak temple. The area is rich in monuments and remains of Egypt's Old Kingdom and has proven to also contain artifacts from the predynastic eras.

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Left: Mastaba tombs and houses uncovered at Tell el-Rub'a in 1977

The worship of a ram god (Amun Re)  in this area was ancient, and increased in importance as the god was associated with the soul (ba) of Osiris, Re and all the other gods. Along with a temple to this god, there were no doubt others dedicated to a number of different deities. 

Remains at the site include a Late Period (or New Kingdom) temple enclosure probably originally built by Amasis (Ahmosis), and later restored by Ptolemy II Philadelphus. This architectural element is still visible, along with a red granite naos. The naos was originally one of four that might have been related to the first four divine generations manifested in the ram god, consisting of Re, Shu, Geb and Osiris. The naos is approximately eight meters (26 ft) tall. Beneath the temple, the remains of an earlier temple possibly of the Middle Kingdom have Red Granite Naos at Tell el-Rub'a been discovered. Beneath the Middle Kingdom temple, stratification remains apparently date to the First Intermediate Period. Apparently, a fire occurred about this time period (end of the Old Kingdom or First Intermediate Period). Burnt mudbrick was discovered, along with the bodies of victims who were apparently attempting to escape the fire.

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Right: Red Granite Naos at Tell el-Rub'a

South of the Late Period temple, the remains of an Old Kingdom Temple have also been unearthed. 

While not much else is clearly visible, recent excavations have found a number of New Kingdom monuments built by kings such as Ramesses II, Merenptah and Ramesses III.  Some of these monuments may have been relocated here after Pi-Ramesse was abandoned.  

In addition to temples, Tel er-Rub'a has produced the remains of mortuary, industrial, and residential areas.

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Minor Temple and Other Ruins of the Nile Delta in Egypt, Part IV
by Monroe Edgar

This is the continuation of Part III in this series examining minor ruins of temples and other monuments in the Nile Delta. Part IV is the final in this series, and covers Tell el-Retaba, Saft el-Hinna, Samannud (Sebennytos) and Tell el-Yahudiya. For information on Abusir (in the Delta), Tell Atrib (Arhribis), Ausim (Letopolis), Behbeit el-Hagar, and Tell el-Dab'a, as well as a listing of the major ruins in the Nile Delta, please see Minor Temple and Other Ruins of the Nile Delta, Part I. For information on Ezbet Rushdi, Tell Far'un (Tell Fara'un), Kom el-Hisn (ancient Imu), Kom Abu Billo (known to the Greeks as Terenuthis) and Tell el-Maskhuta near Ismaliya, please see Part II of the series. For information on Tell el-Muqdam, Tell el-Qirqafa and Tell el-Rub'a, see Part III of this series

Tell el-Retaba

Tell el-Retaba is the site of a fortified military fortress used to guard the Wadi Tumilat approach to the Delta during Ramessid times. It is located about 14 kilometers (8.75 miles) west of Tell el-Maskhuta in the Nile Delta. Along with the fortification, there is also a temple of Atum that also dated from the Ramessid period.

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Saft el-Hinna (Saft el-Henna)

A bronze statue of the God SopduHeadless statue of Nactanebo IRight: Headless statue of Nactanebo I;  Left: A bronze statue of the God Sopdu 

Just to the southeast of the modern city of Zagazig in the Nile Delta is the site of an ancient provincial capital named Per-Sopdu (The House of Sopdu). Sopdu, sometimes referred to as Sopedu, Soped, or Sopedu-Horus, was a falcon style god who came to be very revered in the eastern region as a warrior god and protector of the eastern frontier. He was often represented either as a crouching falcon or as a bearded man wearing a Shesmet girdle and a headdress of two falcon feathers, often carrying a scepter, a battle-axe and an Ankh sign. Here, in 1885, Edouard Naville discovered the enclosure walls of a temple dedicated to that god, measuring 75 x 40 meters (246 x 131 ft). Inside the enclosure wall he discovered a Late Period granite naos of Sopdu built by Nactanebo I. Little of the artifacts discovered in the area predate the reign of Ramesses II.

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Samannud (Sebennytos)


The Archaeological Ruins of Samannud (Sebennytos)Located on the Damietta branch of the Nile in the Egyptian Delta, the modern town of Samannud, a cotton marketing center, is just east of el-Mahalla el-Kubra, and is the site of ancient Tjebnutjer (coptic Djebenoute or Djemnouti), which the Greeks called Sebennytos. It was the capital of Egypt's 12th Lower nome. Manetho, perhaps the greatest of the native Egyptian historians, was from this region, and claims that Tjebnutjer was the home of the 30th Dynasty kings. There are remains, though mostly only a mound, of a temple dedicated to the local god, Onuris-Shu (Anhur-Shu) who was a hunter and sky-god. It was probably at this temple that Manetho served as a priest. It is located on the western side of the modern town.  There are scattered granite blocks from the site inscribed with the names of Nectanebo II, Alexander IV, Philip Arrhidaeus and Ptolemy II, with none of the inscriptions appearing to predate the 30th Dynasty. Some items found here are said to have come from neighboring towns, including an Old Kingdom false door, an altar of Amenemhet I, a statue dated to Psammetichus I, a fragment of a shrine of Nepherites and a sculpture dating to the reign of Nactanebo I.

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Offer bearers from Nectanebo II present gifts to Onuris-Shu
Offer bearers from Nectanebo II present gifts to Onuris-Shu
From the Temple at Sebenmytos

It should also be noted that today, the area is well known as a part of the route of the Holy Family when they were in Egypt.

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Tell el-Yahudiya (Leontopolis)

Ground Plan of the Temple of Ramesses II and the Town and Temple of Osiris at Tell el-Yahudiya (Leontopolis)Tell el-Yahudiya, also known as "Mound of the Jews, is located only about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) northeast of Cairo on the Ismailiya road. This is the site of ancient Nay-ta-hut, which dates from at least as early as the Middle Kingdom. Here we find a huge earthen enclosure wall measuring some 515 x 490 meters (1,689 x 1607 ft), that was excavated by Petrie between about 1905 and 1906. This structure that dates from either the Middle Kingdom or the Second Intermediate Period is traditionally thought to be a military enclosure, but could possibly have had a religious purpose, or served as a perimeter wall for both military and religious structures. There are no other good Egyptian parallels for such a massive defensive enclosure wall such as this. The walls are plastered over and have sloping outside facades and that are almost vertical on the interior.

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A Polychrome faience tile with a depiction of a captive Libyan, one of the traditional enemies of Egypt.In the western part of the enclosure wall there was a temple and/or palace of Ramesses III, and colossal statues of Ramesses II found in the northern part of the enclosure suggest that ruler may also have had a cult temple here. In the structure associated with Ramesses III, early scholars discovered enameled tiles imprinted on their back side with Greek letters, with some also bearing the name of Ramesses III. They were decorated with rosettes, rekhyt birds symbolic of the king's subjects, and foreign captives. 

Right: a Polychrome faience tile with a depiction of a captive Libyan, one of the traditional enemies of Egypt.

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This site is especially noted for a type of pottery dating to the Hyksos period and the Middle Kingdom. It is characterized by a type of juglet, named after the site, and found as far away as Syprus, Syria/Palestine and in the ancient Nubian towns of Buhen and Aniba. Known as Tell el-Yahudiya ware, the juglets were made in a distinctive black fired material which was often decorated with incised zigzag designs filled with white pigment. 

Outside the enclosure wall to the northeast are also the remains of a temple that Ptolemy VI allowed Onias, an exiled Jewish priest, to build. Here, Onias established a small Jewish settlement that flourished between the early 2nd Century BC and the 1st Century AD. Vespasian had the temple enclosed when, in 71 AD, the Jews in Jerusalem rebelled.

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The Lost Temples of Nubia
by Craig Hildreth

Map of Lake NasserAny fan of ancient Egypt is familiar with the rescue work performed by Egypt and the world community in Nubia in order to save monuments located there from the rising waters of Lake Nasser created by the High Aswan Dam. More than 22 missions from all over the world were actively excavating for the buried treasures over which the Nubians were living. Many, many monuments were saved, some re-erected near their original locations on high ground, a number of others moved to Khartoum in the Sudan, while still other small temples were actually given away to foreign governments who assisted in the rescue operation. These latter temples included the Temple of Debod, now located at City Park in Madrid Spain, The temple of Dendur housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the rock cut temple of el-Lessiya at Museo Egizio in Turn, Italy, the gateway of the temple of Kalabsha in the Agyptisches Museum in Berlin, Germany, and the Taffa Temple at Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, Netherlands. 

A temple from Semna, kumma (Semna East), two of the temples located at the famous fortress of Buhen, a temple from Aksha (Serra West) and the rock cut tomb of Djehutihotpe were all moved to Khartoum in the Sudan.

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What we hear less about is the temples and structures that were lost to the waters of Lake Nasser. Certainly, many ancient towns, and some huge fortresses lay deep beneath this massive lake, together with a number of notable temples. Here, we wish to examine as best we can some of these temples that now are lost.

Quban (Kuban)

Part of the fortress at Quban (Kuban)Quban, know to the Egyptians as Baki and o the Greeks as Contra Pselchis, stood on the east bank of the Nile just across from Dakka. It was a fortress probably built at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty by Senusret I, but it may have had an Old Kingdom Precursor. Many of the most important sites lost to Egyptologists beneath the waters of Lake Nasser were Nubian fortresses, and were perhaps more important for this reason than for their small temples. Unfortunately, these fortress could probably have never been saved from Lake Nasser, for unlike the temples that were moved, they were mostly made of mudbrick.

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During the New Kingdom Quban was one of the more important Egyptian centers in Nubia controlling the gold mines of Wadi 'Allaqi. It contained several temple, of which little today is known. Apparently, a number of blocks from this temple were latter used at the nearby Temple of Dakka that was itself saved from the waters of Lake Nasser.

Faras (Pachoras)

Floorplan of the Temple of Tutankhamun at FarasFaras was an important center in Nubia. During the third century, it was an important town of the Meroe kingdom, and from the eight century it was the capital city of the Christian bishops in Nubia. In fact, this site is perhaps more famous as an early Christian center then for its pharaonic monuments.

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This site, which originally stood on the west bank of the Nile between Abu Simbel and the Wadi Halfa, had a destroyed 18th Dynasty temple of Tutankhamun and an early New Kingdom rock-cut chapel of Hathor of Ibshek (perhaps originally constructed by Tuthmosis III). The latter temple was enlarged in the reigns of Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The temple built by Tutankhamun was designed on a symmetrical plan, consisting of a square courtyard bordered on either side by a portico (2 rows of columns). It also contained a hypostyle hall with 12 columns and a sanctuary with annexes. There were hundreds of Thmosid blocks discovered at this site that where probably removed from the temple at Buhen next tot he second cataract. 

Pottery from the necropolis at Faras
Pottery from the necropolis at Faras

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In addition to the temples unearthed at Faras, there was also the ruins of an early Christian basilica dating to the seventh or eighth century, the ruins of a bishop's palace, an early monastery and other ruins. Over 120 Byzantine-Coptic style paintings in tempera on dry plaster  were removed from these sites, many of which remain in Sudanese museums and the National Museum in Warsaw.

A Christian painting from Faras
A Christian painting from Faras

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The Floorplan of the New Kingdom temple of Hathor at MirgissaMirgissa

Mirgissa was located in the region of the Nile's second cataract on the west bank of the Nile about 15 kilometers south of Wadi Halfa. Here, a small New Kingdom Middle Kingdom temple of Hathor was built, perhaps replacing an earlier structure. However, like many of he sites lost beneath Lake Nasser, Mirgissa is again more familiar to us as a fortress then for its temples. 

Of course, the list of possible archaeological sites that were lost to the waters of Lake Nasser are more then simply numerous. Great heritages were lost, but at the same time, one must first place importance on the living, and most of the population in this part of Africa, particularly Egypt, will not argue the value of the Aswan High Dam in their modern culture.

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Qasr Ibrim, A temple in Nubia (Southern Egypt)Most  every Egyptian enthusiast is familiar with the ancient temples at the north of Lake Nasser, specifically at Philae.  And they are equally familiar with Abu Simbel far to the south.  Far more obscure are the temples that lie in between, south of the High Dam and North of Abu Simbel along Lake Nasser. The land in between these monuments was once known a part of Nubia. When the High Dam was being built, many of these temples were moved during the salvage operation between 1964 and 1968. 

Just south of the High Dam is New Kalabsha, which can be reached by bus or taxi from Aswan with just a 30 minute drive.  Therefore, the main Temple of Kalabsha will also be familiar to many readers.  The temple was moved to New Kalabsha during the salvage operation, and is the largest freestanding Egyptian temple in Nubia.  It was built by Agustus Ceasar (27 BC - 24 AD) and dedicated to Osiris, Isis and Mandulis.  The half finished column capitals, and fragments of relief decorations of the temple provide considerable insight about ancient Egyptian construction and carving techniques.  

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Just south of the High Dam is New Kalabsha, which can be reached by bus or taxi from Aswan with just a 30 minute drive.  Therefore, the main Temple of Kalabsha will also be familiar to many readers.  The temple was moved to New Kalabsha during the salvage operation, and is the largest freestanding Egyptian temple in Nubia.  It was built by Agustus Ceasar (27 BC - 24 AD) and dedicated to Osiris, Isis and Mandulis.  The half finished column capitals, and fragments of relief decorations of the temple provide considerable insight about ancient Egyptian construction and carving techniques.  

Connected by a path to the Roman era Kalabsha temple is the older Beit al-Wadi temple (the House of the Holy Man) that was also moved to New Kalabsha.  This small rock-cut temple was originally fronted by a mud-brick pylon which was not moved, and consisted of an entrance hall, a hypostyle hall and a sanctuary.  It is a delightful temple with painted decorations in reds, blues and greens that retain most of their original brilliance.  In the entrance to the temple scenes of Ramesses II show him smiting his enemies, often accompanied by his pet lion. In the sanctuary are seated statues of Ramesses II and deities such as Horus, Isis and Khnum.

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Finally there is the temple of Kertassi (Kiosk of Qertassi) on the south side of Kalabsha, with two Hathor columns and four elaborate columns with capitals.

Regrettably, many people who visit Aswan do not take, or have the time to visit these nearby monuments.

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The other Nubian monuments are much more difficult to visit, and are rarely included in generalized tours.  They generally require either a multi-day Lake Nasser cruise, or some may be visited on an overland trip to Abu Simbel.

Unfortunately the remains of Gerf Hussein are very fragmentary.  It was built by Setau who was a viceroy of Kush during Ramesses II's reign.  Originally a combination rock-cut and freestanding temple similar to Abu Simbel, it was dedicated to Ramesses II, Ptah, and Ptah-Tatenen (a Nubian-Egyptian creator god).  As at Abu Simbel, gods were carved out of the rock in the sanctuary. 

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Early Picture of Gerf Hussein
Early Picture of Gerf Hussein

The Temple of Dakka, a Ptolemaic temple originally situated forty miles north of its present location. Built using fragments of an older 18th Dynasty temple (possibly built by an Ethiopian king Arkamani), it was dedicated to Thoth of the Sycamore Fig. The axis of the temple runs parallel with what was once the river. 

Dakka Temple
Dakka Temple

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Close by is the temple of Mahararqa which once stood fifty miles to the north. It was dedicated to Isis and Serapis, but the decoration was never completed. The most important remains are those of the hypostyle hall.

Temple at Wadi as-Subua
Temple at Wadi as-Subua

Just south of the Dakka Temple is Wadi as-Subua (Wadi es-Sebua) where two temples are located. It is known as the Valley of the Lions because of the sphinxes that once lined the avenue leading to the first temple.  It was constructed by Amenhotep III and added to by Ramesses II.  Unfortunately, most of the decorations were defaced by early Christians.  The front is free standing and the rear was rock-cut.  This temple consists of a sanctuary, a court, a hall and pylons.  It was originally dedicated to the Nubian version of Horus, but was later rededicated to Amun-Re.

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Broken Colossal of Ramesses II at Wadi as-Subua
Wadi as-Subua

The second temple of Ramesses II, Re-Harakhte (a sun god), and Amun-Re was moved about three kilometers (two miles) to the west from its original location.  This temple was also also originally free standing and rock-cut.

Temple of Derr
Temple of Derr

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Head of a KingThe next temple is Amada, the oldest of the temples, going back to the 18th dynast with restoration work from the 19th dynasty.  Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep II, and Tuthmosis IV were all involved with its construction, and Seti I restored sections of it. The fine preservation of the temple is due to Christians plastering over the reliefs. The temple, dedicated to Amun-Re and Re-Harakhte, contains an inscription relating the crushing of a Libyan-backed rebellion by King Merneptah (1212-1202 BC). At the back of the temple inscriptions tell about the famous wars in Syria of Amenhotep II’s and how he bought back the bodies of rebel chieftains to hang on the walls of Thebes.  One body was hung from the prow of his ship sailing through Nubia as a warning. This temple was moved about two kilometers (one mile) from its original site.

Nearby is the temple of Derr, built by Ramesses II and dedicated to himself, Amun-Re, Re-Harakhte and Ptah.. This rock-cut  temple is well decorated with bright, visible colors and Painting of the Temple of Derrwas moved from near the Amada temple in 1964.  There is also the tomb of Pennut here that originally stood at Aniba. Pennut was an administrator in Nubia during the reign of Ramesses VI and is shown receiving honors from him in this rock-cut tomb. However, large sections of wall inscriptions have been cut away.

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The last site before Abu Simbel is a large, mostly flooded island at Qasr Ibrim.  It once housed as many as six temples and a Roman era fort, encompassing an expanse of historic periods including the pharaonic, Roman, Christian and Arab/Nubian eras.  It was the last bastion of paganism in Nubia. Tourists could once visit the site, but damage by boats and foot traffic in the mostly mudbrick ruins have led to the Egypt Exploration Society convincing the Antiquities Council to bar tourists from the site. Boats still stop for a look however. At one time prior to the rise of Lake Nasser, it could be visited by a land bridge.
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From the Pharaonic period there are remains of 18th and 25th dynasty temples, as well as rock-cut shrines to different pharaohs and various gods dating to the 18th and 19th dynasties.  Roman period remains include a sizeable fortress probably from the time of Augustan.  Also notable are the remains of a large basilica.  Many artifacts such as leather, manuscripts, pottery as well as animal and botanical remains have provided considerable information on the daily life of people living at Qasr Ibrim.

The Temple of Osiris 
and the Other Temples of Abydos

by Peter Rome

6 years ago
Abydos in Middle Egypt is an ancient holy place and burial ground of the rulers of the late prehistoric proto-kingdom, as well as the first attested kings of the politically unified Egyptian state. Buildings constituting the settlement area in northern Abydos dating back to Predynastic times have been found around Kom es-Sultan, while recent excavators have found an Old Kingdom residential area to the south-east which contains a street of mudbrick houses with courtyards and a faience workshop with its kilns. 

Map of North Abydos
North Abydos

This was perhaps the principal region for the worship of the god Osiris, who gained popularity to such an extent that, from the Middle Kingdom on, a ritual journey to Abydos was often depicted in private tombs from other parts of Egypt. In fact, Osiris continued to gain popularity throughout most of Egypt's ancient history. Hence, it is no surprise that a number of kings built temple in this location.

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We have elsewhere examined some of the major temples and monuments of Abydos, including the mortuary temple of Seti I and the Osireion, a small temple built by Ramesses II, as well as Ruins of the Osiris Temple one built by Tuthmosis III, and even a pyramid and mortuary temple of Ahmose. However, there is at least one additional major temple, and a number of minor structures that we have not really covered in any detail. 

The Temple of Osiris

To the northwest of the Ramesses II temple in an area known as Kom es-Sultan was an ancient mudbrick temple, probably dating to the Old Kingdom, dedicated to the god Khenty-Amentiu (or Khentiamentiu) 'Foremost of the Westerners', who  was a major funerary deity. Later he became associated with Osiris as god of the dead and was eventually completely synchronized with Osiris.

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Evidence of AhaArtifacts representing kings dating from the Early Dynastic Period to Graeco-Roman times have been found here but little of the structure survives today. These include a fragment of a vase of the 1st dynasty king Aha, as well as small figures of men and animals of the same period. However, most of the rulers of the Old Kingdom are attested here, as are a number of rulers of the Middle and New Kingdoms, including Amenhotep I, Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep III, who all undertook rebuilding projects here. 

Mostly what remains of this temple is its wall, which eventually became known as the enclosure of the Temple of Osiris. Little, with the exception of doorways, was constructed of stone and so most has been lost.

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By the Middle Kingdom, this temple had become completely associated with Osiris, and would have been a significant nationally within Egypt, for it was almost certainly here that the annual Some of the only stone blocks used in the temple of Osiris Festival of Osiris originated. The cult statue of this god was moved in his portable barque, carried on the shoulders of priests from this temple to his supposed tomb on the mound known as Umm el Ga'ab. 

In fact, it is likely that the area of Kom es-Sultan was crowded with temples by the Middle Kingdom and a new complex of private chapels developed along the escarpment overlooking the Osiris temple. By then, the pilgrimage to Abydos would have been an important part of religious life with many kings adding to the Temple of Osiris.

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12th Dynasty king Senusret III adding a temple to the Abydos collection at the western edge of the desert to the southeast of Seti's temple. However, there is now little remaining above the sands, and yet, this has been called one of the best preserved temples from Egypt's Middle Kingdom. 

In 1994 Josef Wegner re-excavated and re-studied the severely damaged temple complex built for Senusret III, with important results. The temple proper had been entirely removed in antiquity, but Wegner's painstaking excavations located part of its outline, scratched by builders on the stone platform upon which the temple had stood. The temple's approximate size is now known. Moreover, the brick-built wings of the temple, identified as Ruins of the Senusret III mortuary temple doorless storerooms, turned out to be interconnected chambers, integral to the temple itself. Most important of all, hundreds of decorated fragments, reflecting the temple's function and overlooked earlier, were also recovered.

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We know know that this temple consisted of a limestone cult building sitting at the center of a larger rectangular mudbrick building. Of course, the decorative theme in painted reliefs depicts Senusret III showing his eternal association with Osiris. There were many statues made of alabaster and red quartzite that adorned the temple, which also included housing for the priests who maintained the cult of Senusret III. Peripheral to the temple were storage magazine and even a town which was associated with the temple estate. 

Statue of Senusret III from AbydosEither the real, or cenotaph tomb of Senusret III lies further to the west. Dieter Arnold seems to believe that this structure is the actual burial place of Senusret III. In any event, this tomb is arguably the largest of any underground tomb in Egypt. The temple and the tomb together represented a funerary complex that was called "Enduring are the Places of Khakaure justified in Abydos".

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Ramesses I and now destroyed, stood between the principal Ramesses II temple and Seti's temple. However, on the southwestern side of the walls of the Osiris temple Ramesses II also built a limestone 'Portal Temple' which probably represented the entrance to the ancient cemetery area. Petrie noted that the "temple" was very different from any other and it was he that suggested that it could be the terminus of a processional ritual. Unfortunately, the ruined condition of the rear section of the temple makes a complete reconstruction of its original plan or decorative theme impossible at this time. 

However, excavations beneath the floor of the Ramesses II Portal Temple have also revealed a dense complex of vaulted mudbrick structures that appear to date to the Middle Kingdom. They take the form of tomb chapels, but have no burial chamber or any actual human remains. Hence, these too were probably memorial chapels or cenotaphs.

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The Other Temples on the West Bank at Thebes in Egypt, Part I
by Mark Andrews

Mention the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) and  most people who have any knowledge of ancient Egypt may think of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the Ramesseum and the Temple of Hatshepsut, as well as a few other monuments. But this vast necropolis is almost unimaginatively complex, and beyond the many thousands of tombs, obscure temples and chapels ruins dot this landscape. In this short series of articles, we will examine "the other temples" of the West Bank. It should be noted that the reason most of these temples are fairly unknown is that nothing much physically remains of them for the most part. Major temples that we have already documented include 
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The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III
on the West Bank at Luxor

by Mark Andrews

Amenhotep III built not only the largest temple at Thebes (on the West Bank at Luxor), but in Egypt, measuring 700 by 550 meters. It covered 385,000 square meters (4,200,000 square feet). It was even larger than the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak. The temple's architect was also named Amenhotep, but was the son of Hapu. Unfortunately, it seem that the temple began to decay rapidly, and during the reign of Merenptah, it was actively used as a source of limestone blocks for the temple of that ruler.
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A statue of Amenhotep III and his queen

The reason for this was perhaps a brilliant, but regrettable religious concept. The temple was apparently uniquely built on the flood plain. The temple was purposely built so low that the inundation of the Nile would flood its outer courts and halls, probably leaving only the inner sanctuary, built on a knoll above water level, dry. Thus, when the water receded, the whole temple symbolized the emergence of the world from the primeval waters of creation. Of course, this did nothing for the temple's preservation, particularly considering that many of the temple walls were built of mudbrick. Aggravating the destruction, many of the massive sandstone pylons and columns were far too heavy for the weak or even missing foundations upon which they were built. 

However, we do have Amenhotep III's own description of the complex:

"He did (it) as his monument for (his) father Amen, lord of the throne of the two lands, making for him a splendid temple on the right of Thebes; a fortress of eternity out of good white sandstone - worked with gold throughout.  Its floors were purified with silver, all its doorways were of electrum..."

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Much of the temple was build during the last ten years of Amenhotep III rule and in conjunction with his three Sed-festivals.

Plan of Amenhotep III's templeThough this temple has never been fully investigated, the only real remains seem to be the two huge statues we call the Colossi of Memnon, along with a few fragments of pylons, and various statues and column fragments A quartzite stela which has been re-erected but was probably originally one of a pair set up at the entrance to the court describes Amenhotep III's building accomplishments. Also, in the vicinity of the Solar court there are many column bases, though they are overgrown and difficult to spot, along with fragments of standing statues of Amenhotep III as Osiris. Some of the huge column bases are important to Egyptologists, because they reveal foreign place names known in the time of Amenhotep III, including references to the Aegean.

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Other statues discovered in the area depict the goddess Sekhmet, sphinxes, some with the bodies of crocodiles and other deities. Ancient documents tell us that there was one seated and one standing statue of Sekhmet for each day of the year. Many other colossal statues were built here, including a pair of striding figures of the king that flanked the northern entrance to the temple, fragments of which also still remain. In fact, some Egyptologists believe that some of the colossal statues in the Ramesseum, including the famous fallen statue of "Ozymandia", were probably usurped from the Amenhotep III complex. 

Of course, the Colossi of Memnon actually portray Amenhotep III. Due to an earthquake in 27 BC, these statues became known for a bell like tone that usually occurred in the morning due to rising temperatures and humidity. Thus they were equated by the early Greek travelers Side of the Colossi of Memnon showing Nile gods uniting plants of Upper and Lower Egypt with the figure of Memnon, the son of Aurora who's mother, Eos, was the goddess of dawn. The Roman emperor Septimius Severus, seeking to repair the statues, inadvertently silenced them forever.

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Left: Side of the Colossi of Memnon showing Nile gods uniting plants of Upper and Lower Egypt

These colossal statues set at the front of the temple, which was located almost directly across the Nile from the Temple of Luxor at Kom el-Hetan. Behind them were two massive courtyards with other seated, colossal statues. There were a total of three pylons. In front of the second set of pylons were two additional quartzite colossal statues, and before the third pylon stood two additional colossal statues made of alabaster. Betsy Bryan has suggested that this was the largest sculptural program in history. 

A long processional way similar to that built by the king in the Luxor Temple, lined with sphinxes, stretched from the innermost pylons to a large peristyle solar court.

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A considerable part of the temple was dedicated to Amen, but it is also known that the northern part of the temple was devoted to the Memphite deity Ptah, or Ptah-Sokar-Osiris to whom Amenhotep also built a temple in honor of in Memphis. 

There is also a small, separate limestone temple dedicated to Ptah-Sokar-Osiris in the northern part of the compound. It had its own gateway flanked by two quartzite standing statues of Amenhotep III. However, it was so destroyed by stone thieves that we can barely guess at its ground plan.

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Arial view of the Colossus of Memnon
Arial view of the Colossus of Memnon


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Please stay tuned for Part Five.....

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