The largest known ancient Egyptian fortress was unearthed
near the Suez Canal, as the archaeologists responsible announced towards
the end of July 2007.
The massive fortress, discovered at a site called Tell-Huba,
included the graves of soldiers and horses and once featured a giant
water-filled moat. The discovery dated back to ancient Egypt's struggle to
re-conquer the northern Sinai peninsula from an occupying force known as the
The campaign against the Hyksos was depicted in etchings
on the walls of the Karnak Temple, 720 kilometres (450 miles) to the south
of Cairo. The archaeologists said the new find showed those stone-chiselled
tales to be surprisingly accurate. The bones of humans and horses found in
the area attested dramatically to the reality of such battles.
Zahi Hawass, director general of Egypt's Supreme Council
for Antiquities (SCA) pointed out that, previously, the area was known
only from depictions in temples elsewhere in Egypt. There was 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
a period between the 18th to 20th Dynasties (from 1550 to 1075 BC).
Ancient empires clash
Tjaru's mud brick walls were thirteen metres thick
(42 feet), enclosing an area 500 metres by 250 metres (546 yards by
273 yards). Twenty-four watchtowers loomed over the parapets. A deep
moat ringed the entire complex. It was the biggest in a chain of eleven
fortresses which 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 seize and 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