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Newly Discovered Ancient Egyptian Fortress Sheds Light on Early Warfare

In ancient Egypt, a once legendary defensive array existed known as the “Wall of the Prince,” consisting of numerous fortresses built along a line of cities. It served to protect the entire Egyptian country, and had been described throughout inscriptions later unearthed at Karnak temple in Upper Egypt, which gave further details about a military wonder of the ancient world: the Horus Military Route.

Now, according to a press release that occurred over the weekend from Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty, what may have been the largest single fortress in ancient Egypt has been unearthed near the ancient city sit of Tell Habua.

excavation

The ruins are roughly 3000 years old, and are being described as “significant” because of the details they lend to the study of ancient Egyptian warfare. “It is a model example of Ancient Egypt’s military architecture, as well as the Egyptian war strategies through different ages, for the protection of the entirety of Egypt,” archaeologist Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud said in a statement given to the Cairo Post.

Extending a total of 350 kilometers, the Horus Military Route began at Tharu, and extended to Rafah, featuring a path of fortifications along a roadway which served to protect Egypt’s eastern extremities from invasion. Dan Richardson, author of The Rough Guide to Egypt, explains the strategic importance this area held for the ancient Egyptians:

“The Great Horus military route across Northern Sinai… provided defense in depth and stores for major campaigns; one at Tell Habouh, near Qantara, covers 12,000 square meteres. Armies were supplied by donkeys or by galleys in coastal waters. Such logistics enabled Tuthmosis III to move 20,000 troops 400 km in nine days – without being detected – while Ramses II extended Egypt’s strategic reach to 2000 km by pioneering use of oxen… This formidable war machine made imperialism inevitable, and was fed by the spoils of war: 894 chariots, 2000 horses and 25,000 pack animals were taken at the battle of Meggido alone.”

Tell Megiddo site as it appears today.

Tell Megiddo site as it appears today.

The battle Richardson refers to in the passage above occurred in the 15th century BC, fought between Pharaoh Thuthmosis III’s army and Canaanite groups allegiant to the king of Kadesh in the Levant, located in modern day Syria. The information related here about this ancient battle is of significance, since it the battle of Meggido is largely held to be the earliest conflict for which a reliable written history exists, which included the number of fallen soldiers. It should be noted that the figures stem almost entirely from records kept by ancient Egyptians at the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak. They are largely credited to the scribe Tjaneni.

The new discoveries at Tell Habua lend further knowledge of the ways that ancient Egyptians utilized military forces for protection and aid against outlying threats, and also to the level of intricacy they employed in doing so.

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Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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