A joint German-Egyptian archaeological team says it has
uncovered some of the world's oldest horse stables on the edge of
the Nile Delta, about 100km northeast of Cairo.
The stables comprise six rows of buildings which would house at
least 460 horses.
They have linked the stables to the pharaoh Ramses II, otherwise
known as Ramses the Great, who ruled between 1279-1213 BC and was
one of ancient Egypt's most prolific builders.
The head of the excavation team, Edgar Pusch, described it as
the biggest and best preserved stable ever uncovered from the
ancient Near East.
He reported that it stretched for more than 17,000 square metres
- six identical rows of buildings, each with rooms containing
limestone basins and stones to tether the hundreds of horse.
Twenty year search
The stable floors were sloped, Doctor Pusch said, to collect
the urine of the horses, which was then used to fertilise
Archaeologists believe the horses themselves were used to draw
the two-wheeled chariots that were an important part of warfare at
the time, and were used by Ramses II to fight off invaders.
The German-Egyptian team had been digging in the area, which is
close to the pharaoh's ancient capital, for nearly twenty years
searching for the temple of a goddess on horseback depicted on a
They concluded several years ago that they may have uncovered a
stable, but they only realised the scale of the find recently.
Archaeologists believe that a wealth of other discoveries lies
beneath the fertile fields of the Nile Delta. Until recently, most
excavation work in Egypt has focused on Upper and Middle Egypt.