Friday, April 06, 2007

Evidence shows Egyptian cities have been destroyed by volcanoes

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered unearthed traces of volcanic ash dating back to 1500 BC on the northern coast of Sinai. The find, they say, supports accounts that a number of ancient Egyptian settlements were buried by a massive volcanic eruption in the Mediterranean.

The archaeological team, led by Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, found houses, military structures, and tombs encased in ash near the ancient Egyptian fortress of Tharo, on the Horus military road.

Tharo is located close to El Qantara, where the Nile Delta meets the Sinai Peninsula.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the council, said the ash hailed from Santorini, an eastern Mediterranean volcano that has been linked to the myth of Atlantis.

He said the new find seemed to confirm accounts from ancient artwork and documents that recount the destruction of coastal cities in Egypt and Palestine during the 15th dynasty (1650-1550 BC), when foreigners known as the Hyksos ruled Egypt.

He said it was possible that Trade winds might have carried a blizzard of ash to Egypt from Santorini, located about 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) from Tharo.

Archaeologists also found a fort with four mud-brick towers dating to Egypt's 18th dynasty (around 1550 to 1307 BC).

Hawass said the fort corresponded to reliefs found in the ancient temple of Karnak in Luxor.

The sculptures describe Egypt's strategy to defend its eastern borders against future invasions by the Hyksos, who are thought to have been Semitic nomads from Syria and Palestine.

"It's very significant. There are only a limited number of sites linked to the Hyksos," National Geographic quoted Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo as saying.

Ikram said the archaeological team had used "holistic archeologyā€¯ incorporating geology and climatology in addition to archeology, linguistics, and art history" to bring a more concrete tale of the past.

He added that the site also contained some of the earliest known remains of horses found in Egypt.

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