The largest known fortress from Ancient Egypt has been unearthed
near the Suez Canal, archaeologists announced on Sunday.
The massive fortress, discovered at a site called Tell-Huba,
includes the graves of soldiers and horses and once featured a giant
water-filled moat, scientists said.
The discovery dates back to Ancient Egypt's struggle to
re-conquer the northern Sinai Peninsula from an occupying force
known as the Hyksos.
The campaign against the Hyksos was depicted in etchings on the
ancient walls of the Karnak Temple, 450 miles (720 kilometres) south
Archaeologists said the new find shows those stone-chiselled
tales to be surprisingly accurate.
"The bones of humans and horses found in the area attest
dramatically to the reality of such battles," said Zahi Hawass,
director general of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA).
"Previously, the area was known only from depictions in temples
elsewhere in Egypt. We had no first-hand evidence of what was
happening there during the pharaonic period."
The discovery was part of a broader effort called the North
Sinai Archaeological Project, which was started in 1991 to identify
and protect archaeological sites that were threatened by an
industrial agriculture project.
The fort, called Fort Tjaru (or Tharo), was unearthed by a team
led by Mohammed Abdul Maqsoud of the SCA. The fort dates from the
18th to 20th Dynasties (from 1550 to 1075 BC).
Ancient Empires Clash
Tjaru's mud brick walls were 42 feet (13 metres) thick,
enclosing an area 546 yards (500 metres) by 273 yards (250 metres).
Twenty-four watchtowers loomed over the parapets. A deep moat ringed
the entire complex.
It was the biggest in a chain of eleven fortresses that stretched
from Suez to the present-day city of Rafah on Egypt's border with
the Palestinian territories.
The formidable defences were built on bitter experience.
In the seventeenth century BC, a people known as the Hyksos invaded
from Canaan, sweeping across the Sinai to rule over the Nile Delta
and northern Egypt.
The Hyksos' reign faded about a hundred years later. Subsequent
pharaohs cast a wary eye to the east and militarised the northern