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Uncovering Ancient Egypt's Military Past
Posted In: Other Exciting News  7/17/09
By: Yona Williams

As Egyptian archeologists started to uncover the remnants of an ancient fortress city hidden beneath the ground close to the Suez Canal, pieces of evidence linking ancient Egyptians to their military past started to emerge. In this article, we will explore what they found and what can we learn from this recent discovery.

A large fortress and temple located at Tell Dafna in Egypt is the site of discussion in the region because researchers now have more information to sort in regards to the ancient military and trade route, known as the "Ways of Horus." The excitement surrounding the excavation is that the pottery and arrowheads uncovered give a glimpse into the importance of the eastern section of the Delta in matters of the military.

Archeologists are convinced that they have discovered the largest fortress in the eastern Delta, which is situated between El-Manzala Lake and the Suez Canal. Remains show the possibility of a military town located around 9 miles northeast of the city of western Qantara. For many years, Tell Dafna has earned the reputation as a strategic outpost against Egypt's enemies.

In the past, King Ramses II of the 19th Dynasty (1279-1212 BC) selected the site where he wished to construct a fortress. As the first ruler of the 26th Dynasty (664-625 BC), King Psammetichus I decided that the location made a perfect site for a battalion of foreign mercenaries with the purpose of defending the eastern borders of Egypt from anyone that wished to attack.

Covering a space that measures close to 380 by 625 meters (1,247 by 2,051 feet), the fortress includes an enclosure wall that is around 13 meters (or 43 feet) wide. It is estimated that the foundation of the fortress dates back to the 7th century BC – most likely left behind by the fortified town that Psammetichus I established.

In history, Greek historian Herodotus (484 - 425 BC) made mention of the ancient military and trade route that connected Egypt with the East. Details of one of the forts (Daphnae) were given. Herodotus described this particular structure as a guard post for Psammetichus I meant to protect against the Arabians and Assyrians.

This is not the first time that the fortress has been excavated. In 1886, an English Egyptologist named Flinders Petrie first recognized the importance of the site when linking it to the camp for Greek mercenaries associated with Psammetichus I. Over time, desert erosion and other circumstances have long since flattened the site. By now, whatever archeological progress that Petrie made – it was no longer recognizable.

Collecting updated information is of importance because it plays a significant role in saving an endangered site located in the Delta. Some archeologists are most interested in unearthing a connection Egyptian and archaic Greek remains. This recent excavation has surely produced information that can further this desire.

A great number of pottery vessels, including pottery lids (both local and imported) have been found. A white plate bearing a Demotic text inscription is quite interesting. Decorated in red and black, amphora was also uncovered. Other finds at the site include stones used as grinding seeds, an amulet, as well as pieces of alabaster kohl pots. We will now learn an increasing amount of information concerning the trade practices of people living during ancient Egyptian times, and around the Near East and Greece. However, it is the bronze arrowheads that are sending archeologists on a hunt to establish timelines and scenarios regarding military action and traditions.


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