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Posted on Saturday, May 09 - 2009

" Copyright ReutersA military garrison of mud-brick and seashells unearthed in Egypt's Sinai desert may be key to finding a web of pharaonic-era defenses at the northeast gateway to ancient Egypt, archaeologists said on Thursday.Archaeologists who discovered the 3,500-year-old garrison,..."

A general view of a newly discovered ancient fortification at Tell Heboua beside El Qantara East, around 160 km (99 miles) northeast of Cairo.

Copyright Reuters

A military garrison of mud-brick and seashells unearthed in Egypt's Sinai desert may be key to finding a web of pharaonic-era defenses at the northeast gateway to ancient Egypt, archaeologists said on Thursday.Archaeologists who discovered the 3,500-year-old garrison, where up to 50,000 soldiers could be posted in times of heightened tensions, say they hope inscriptions at Luxor's Karnak temple may serve as a guide to finding other outposts. But knowing the location of the garrison at the ancient city of Tharu, in aformerly fertile area of Egypt where a branch of the Nile river once met the Mediterranean Sea, is key to understanding where to start looking."As we understand from the inscription at Karnak temple, the city of Tharu had two fortifications with the Nile in the middle," said Mohamad Abdul Maqsoud, who heads archaeological exploration in Egypt's Nile Delta and Sinai regions. In their 3,000-year history, Egypt's Pharaohs often ventured across Sinai to fight Hittites and other civilizations in the area now covered by Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. "This city was used to protect Egypt and as a gate to the Delta.

It was a post of control. If you wanted to cross the Nile, you asked for permission before you crossed the bridge," Abdul Maqsoudsaid. Most Egyptian fortifications at the time were made of stone, not easily available in the Sinai. So Egyptians used seashells to strengthen the mud brick used to build the garrison, with a 15 meter thick and 12 meter high wall to discourage attack.

Garrison used to expel Hyksos Abdul Maqsoud said a full exploration and excavation of possible pharaonic military installations in Sinai could take 15 years to complete, but he expected to find more outposts. The garrison, called Tell Heboua, is now some 15 km (9 miles) from the coast and the Nile branch is no longer there. The fortress was first used as a base from which to expel the occupying Hyksos, who occupied Egypt for some 120 years between 1620 and 1534 BC and whose capital, Avaris, was located nearby in the Delta, AbdulMaqsoud said......


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