CAIRO (Reuters) - Archaeologists have unearthed four pharaonic temples in the Sinai peninsula, including one of mud brick with fortified walls that served as an important religious center at the eastern gateway to ancient Egypt.
Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquities said on Tuesday the temples dated to the beginning of the rule of Thutmosis II, who reigned from about 1512 BC and was ultimately succeeded by his wife Hatshepsut, among ancient Egypt’s most successful female rulers. “The discovery is considered among the biggest discoveries in Sinai and includes the largest fortified Pharaonic temple in Sinai, at 80 meters by 70 meters,” it said in a statement.
“It is the only example of a mud brick temple in the New Kingdom era in the (Nile) Delta and Sinai.”
It said that the temple was surrounded by walls four meters thick and contained paintings of a number of Egyptian deities, including Horus, the god of the sun.
The statement said the paintings, which also included depictions of Thutmosis II and Ramses II, indicated that the walls of the temple had been brightly painted.
The temple contains three basins for ritual purification and a number of chambers for gods. The statement said it was “an important religious center at Egypt’s eastern entrance in Sinai.”
In their 3,000-year history, Egypt’s Pharaohs often ventured across Sinai to fight Hittites and other civilizations in the area now covered by Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq.
Egypt announced last year it had found in the same area the ancient headquarters of the Pharaonic army which guarded the northeastern borders of Egypt for more than 1,500 years.
Writing by Cynthia Johnston; editing by Andrew Roche