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New Evidence for the Sea People's Invasion of Egypt

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Author Topic: New Evidence for the Sea People's Invasion of Egypt  (Read 418 times)
Gahlbeck
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« on: November 03, 2009, 03:24:36 pm »

 In 1991 the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) of Egypt made an appeal to archaeologists at the International Congress of Egyptology in Turin to concentrate archaeological research on North Sinai because of the threat posed to scores of sites by the As-salam agricultural project. Dr. James K. Hoffmeier, who was then a Professor at Wheaton College (IL), was one of the delegates at the Congress, and he immediately began thinking about getting involved in the salvage effort in this little explored area of Egypt. One of the endangered, and largely unstudied archaeological remains in the region is the so-called 'East Frontier Canal' discovered in the early 1970s (A. Sneh, T. Weissbrod,& I. Perath, 'Evidence for an Ancient Egyptian Frontier Canal,' American Scientist 63 [1975], 542-548).

    It was the belief of the canal's discoverers that it dated back to the 2nd Millennium BC and that its purpose was primarily defensive in nature, linking the lakes and marshes in the area to protect Egypt from invasion and infiltration from the east. The canal probably had forts spaced along its course, and may have been the 'Walls of the Ruler' mentioned in the Tale of Sinuhe and the Prophecy of Neferti.

    The East Frontier Canal Archaeological project was established to investigate this hypothesis and to learn more about the canal and its history. Brief visits to Sinai in 1994, 1995 and 1998 did not yield much information as the As-Salam irrigation project had already cut up areas critical to our study. Furthermore, a 2-3 kilometer stretch of the canal which is visible in aerial photographs and satellite images from the late 1960s and early 1970s, was subsequently covered by a new road.

    While investigating the eastern limit of the canal in 1998, an SCA inspector informed us that he had recently found a New Kingdom site, called Tell el-Borg, located about 10 km (6 miles) NE of Tell Abu Sefeh (Qantara East). We of course were interested in this site, but were unable to visit it at that time.

    In May 1999, an exploratory team returned to North Sinai for further survey work to identify the features we had seen on satellite images. We met with Dr. Mohamed Abd el-Maksoud, then the director for North Sinai, who specifically asked us to examine Tell el-Borg since it had already sustained damage from the canal project.
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Gahlbeck
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 03:24:48 pm »

    In addition to the other work we had planned for that visit, we spent a couple of days doing surface surveying at Tell el-Borg. Based upon the Egyptian and Cypriote sherds discovered on the surface, we determined that this indeed was a New Kingdom site. When we reported to Dr. Abd el-Maksoud about our finds and that there was evidence that the site was being systematically plundered by local thieves, he personally invited our team to excavate Tell el-Borg as soon as possible.

    Since the focus of the project had now broadened to include excavations and a more regional investigation, the name was changed to the East Frontier Archaeological Project (see project's goals). During the fall of 1999, Dr. Hoffmeier took a new position on the faculty of Trinity International University. Trinity immediately threw its support behind the project and became the official academic sponsor of the East Frontier Archaeological Project (also known in some of our communications as the North Sinai Archaeological Project).

    The urgency of the situation in North Sinai and our desire to support the SCA's plans to explore endangered sites in North Sinai led to our application for permission to begin scientific investigation of the site and its immediate environs. The permission was granted and we began surveying in order to create a topographical map of the site. We also wanted to determine the most promising areas to dig. On January 8,2000 over 20 limestone blocks and fragments, five of which were inscribed, were discovered by Dr. Hoffmeier on the embankments of the canal that cuts through the east end of Tell el-Borg. Despite the fact that we were able to examine these blocks only briefly, a New Kingdom date was assured thanks to the presence of a partially preserved cartouche which read Thuth(moses), probably Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC), and traces of a serekh with the Horus-name '(Strong) bu(ll)' that on art historical grounds looks Ramesside in date (13th Century BC). Clearly the canal excavations a few years earlier churned up these blocks, leaving some by the edge of the canal and others tossed on the debris heap beside the canal. However, the nature of the context was unclear. Only excavations would help clarify this question.
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Gahlbeck
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 03:25:03 pm »

If you are interested in learning more about the project, there are brief summaries of the first four seasons of excavations, including last year's (2005) summary. If you want to dig deeper, there are more detailed reports available on this website.

James K. Hoffmeier, Ph.D
Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology
Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL
Project Director

http://www.tellelborg.org/
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Gahlbeck
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 03:26:20 pm »

More information:

http://www.deltasinai.com/uwsegyptfort/speakers.htm
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