for National Geographic News
Archaeologists have uncovered more remnants from Tharu, the largest known fortified city in ancient Egypt, which sits near the modern-day border town of Rafah.
The fortress, also known as Tjaru or Tharo, covered about 31 acres (13 hectares), Egyptian authorities say. Its discovery near the Suez Canal was announced in July 2007.
Tharu helped guard the empire's eastern front in the Sinai Peninsula and served as a military cornerstone for Egypt's ancient leaders.
"It was built [more than] 3,000 years ago, and it was an important and strategic point," said Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The fort's remains were found as part of a project that began in 1986 to explore the "Horus Way," an ancient military road that connected 11 fortresses linking Egypt and Palestine.
The path also served as an entry point for traders coming from Asia.
"This is the only way to enter Egypt by land coming from the east," said Fayza Haikal, a professor of archaeology and Egyptology at the American University in Cairo. "It was the way not only for armies but also commercial [expeditions]."
So far Egyptian authorities have discovered four fortresses along the Horus Way, which essentially formed the same line as Egypt's current eastern border (see map).
Home of Kings
Among the ruins, archaeologists uncovered reliefs depicting several pharaohs—including Thutmose II, who reigned from 1492 to 1479 B.C.; Seti I, who ruled from 1294 to 1279 B.C.; and Ramses II, ruler from 1279 to 1213 B.C.
This indicates that the fort was one of the most important locations in ancient Egypt.
"All of the kings arrived here," Abdel-Maqsoud said. "The inscriptions we found explain this."
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES