History Files


Ancient Egypt

World's Oldest Stables

by Caroline Hawley, BBC News, 14 October 1999



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 surrounding areas.

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 statue.

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.



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