Giant Fortress's Remains Found in Egypt

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The Thutmose relief is thought to be the first such royal monument to be found in Sinai, suggesting that he may have built a fort in the area, according to Egyptian officials.

Earlier studies suggest that Seti I built Tharu in the area of Thutmose's original fort. That is a common occurrence in Sinai, where buildings from many eras can be found stacked atop each other, the American University's Haikal said.

(Related: "Egypt's Earliest Farming Village Found" [February 12, 2008].)

Tharu subsequently served as the headquarters for Egypt's vast military empires.

The fort lasted for at least a thousand years after Seti's death, including periods of rule by the Greeks and Romans.

Double Fortification

Tharu stood for a millennium mostly for one reason: its size. Its walls stretched 1,640 feet (500 meters) long and 820 feet (250 meters) wide.

"A fortification like that, with the Nile also—it must have been very difficult to attack Egypt," Abdel-Maqsoud said.

Tharu's walls were lined with towers 66 feet (20 meters) wide and 13 feet (4 meters) tall that overlooked the east bank of a now desiccated tributary of the Nile.

Sketches of Tharu from the north outside wall of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak indicate the fort may even have included a moat filled with crocodiles.

In addition to its own troops, weapons, and horses, Tharu may have supplied all the troops following the Horus Way with food and water.

Archaeologists discovered rows of large granaries that had their own extra fortifications, just in case enemies breached the exterior defenses.

Tharu's reputation for defense eventually earned it a new name, Hedwa, which means "to walk on the ground while looking in every direction."

"The Egyptians were never defeated here," Abdel-Maqsoud said.

"If you want to pass through this area you must hide yourself," he added. "You must walk on your hands and knees."

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