Sunday, 16 October 2011

Tanis - a trip into the desert

Another from the archives I'm afraid. No walk this week for a number of reasons but I have definite plans for next week.

Anyway, last week I posted some pictures from Bubastis - that was in the morning. In the afternoon we moved to the ancient city of Tanis ( Djanet to the ancient Egyptians, Zoan in the New Testament). This was formerly a capital of Egypt and is an incredibly important site. It is also in the middle of nowhere and again we were the only visitors - oh apart  from the armed entourage from the morning of course.

Unlike Bubastis which is cheek by jowel with Zagazig, this is much more remote. As at many sites the security is quite tight and we had to go through an airport type scanner to enter the complex.

The scanner is clearly not actually plugged in  and the small fact that there is no electricity at the site anyway didn't seem to be a concern  so we all dutifully trouped through it..... Well you don't argue with a man with a big gun! Once in we had a fabulous view down the valley and over the site itself.

Again far too many pictures to share so here are just a couple.

Tanis is inextricably linked with Rameses II - so here is the man himself.

The deep hieroglyph is the cartouche of Rameses II.  He is well known for hijacking statues of his predecessors and removing their cartouches, replacing them with his own.

To avoid any subsequent phaorah doing the the same thing to him, he had his name carved very deeply and this is a feature of all his cartouches all over Egypt. It does make him extremely easy to identify even if you know nothing about hieroglyphics.

Many features are preserved under the sand, two temples   to Horus and Amun, tombs  sacred lakes and a nilometer.

(The nileometer was an essential part of bureaucratic  life- its function was the measure the height of the river thus predicting the fortunes of the crops and thus the level of taxes to be imposed)

The tombs found here rival that of Tutenkhamon for treasure but all has been removed from the area leaving a deserted desert wasteland dominated by the occasional huge piece of masonary. However the site is vast and I have a feeling that there is much yet to be found.
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