May 7, 2009

Egyptian Inscriptions Used To Map Other Ancient Military Outposts

Archaeologists are hoping to use inscriptions from Luxor's Karnak temple in Egypt as a guide to finding other ancient defensive outposts.

"As we understand from the inscription at Karnak temple, the city of Tharu had two fortifications with the Nile in the middle," Mohamad Abdul Maqsoud, head of archaeological exploration in Egypt's Nile Delta and Sinai regions, told Reuters.

Archaeologists have determined that Pharaohs made regular journeys through Sinai in conquests against Hittites and other civilizations in the region of modern-day Israel, Palestine, 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 Maqsoud said.

Ancient Egyptians were forced to use seashells in order to fortify the mud brick used to construct the garrison, called Tell Heboua, with a wall that was 15 meters thick and 12 meters high to keep attacks at bay. The garrison lies about 9 miles out from the coast.

Tell Heboua was initially used to rid the region of Hyksos, Egyptian meaning "foreign rulers". The Hyksos invaded the eastern Nile Delta during Egypt's twelfth dynasty.

"When the Egyptians liberated Egypt it was a very important military action against the city here by the King Ahmose I," Abdul Maqsoud said.

Abdul Maqsoud told Reuters it could take up to 15 years to complete a full excavation of all pharaonic military outposts in the region. But he fully expects to find more ancient military installations.

The fortress was later used in military actions against the Hittites during the rule of Ramses II during the 19th pharaonic dynasty, he said.

Last month, a team from the University of California, Los Angeles unveiled a virtual map of the ancient historical site of the Temple of Karnak.

"Digital Karnak" gives online visitors the opportunity to tour the ancient religious site in a three-dimensional online environment that has been created to resemble how it developed from 1951 B.C. to 31 B.C.

"To really teach about these places, we have to get beyond flat maps on a flat screen," Diane Favro, a member of the "Digital Karnak" project, told USA Today.