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Painted history

Pyramid Mysteries

REMAINS of the largest ancient Egyptian temple yet to be found in Sinai have been uncovered in Qantara, reports Nevine El-Aref.

At Tel-Hebua, known in Pharaonic times as Tharo, the area from which the ancient Egyptian army embarked on military campaigns along Egypt's eastern borders, an Egyptian archaeological mission stumbled upon what is believed to be the largest New Kingdom temple ever discovered.

The temple, which covers an area of 80x70 metres, is built of mud brick decorated with paintings. It consists of four rectangular halls containing a total of 34 columns, three limestone purification basins, and a number of secondary chapels, suggesting that the temple was an important religious centre on Egypt's eastern front.

The site is heavily fortified and surrounded by a four-metre-thick wall. Paintings featuring Horus, Hathor, Tefnut, Montu and Renenutet were unearthed within the temple walls along with others showing kings Tuthmosis II and Ramses II.

On the east and west of the site are two groups of storehouses consisting of 13 rooms each, which probably date to the reigns of Seti I, Ramses II and Seti II. They contain thousands of inscriptions and seal impressions of the three kings. One of them is particularly important, points out mission director Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud. It depicts Ramses II before the god Set, patron deity of the Hyksos capital Avaris, now known as Tel Al-Dabaa, some 50 kilometres from Tel Hebua in the eastern Nile Delta.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), described the discovery as the most important to date in Sinai.

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