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Italians uncover fortress at Pharaohs' Canal

CNR archaeologists find more walls at Tell el-Maskhuta

Italians uncover fortress at Pharaohs' Canal

Cairo, December 15 - The Italian archaeological mission undertaken by the National Research Council (CNR) has brought to light imposing walls from a fortress situated on Egypt's Canal of the Pharaohs, in Tell el-Maskhuta. That makes the site now one of the largest fortresses on the Nile Delta and most likely the best preserved from the age before that of ancient Rome. The discovery was made public recently by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. Tell el-Maskhuta is situated northeast of Cairo, along the Ismailia Canal. In the 1800s the existence of a large quadrangular walled city was already known but had never been well-documented. The wall was already partially visible "just for a brief stretch" at the beginning of the excavation, according to Giuseppina Capriotti Vittozzi, manager of the Italian Archaeological Centre in Cairo. The excavation, titled "Multidisciplinary Egyptological Mission", is being conducted by CNR's Institute of Ancient Mediterranean Studies, which has been working at the site for some years with the cooperation of the Institute for Applied Technologies in Cultural Heritage represented by Andrea Angelini. Vittozzi said in November "an enormous wall, 22 metres long and eight metres high" was found. "It connects to the square fortress with two 12-metre-long walls," she said. She said those walls were just discovered as well, and "they constitute a different defensive structure of gigantic proportions". The site is in "Wadi Tumilat", a valley that was "a very ancient route connecting Egypt and the Levant, between the land of the pharaohs and Palestine, Syria, up to Mesopotamia," Vittozzi said. At the site there are also traces of a settlement of Hyksos, foreigners who dominated part of Egypt more than 3,500 years ago; this is the settlement upon which the successive fortress is situated. A study of ceramics found at the site, led by Maria Cristina Guidotti who heads the Egypt section of Florence's Archaeological Museum, suggests that the revealed structure was added to the previous one in the Ptolemaic era (3rd-1st century B.C.).

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