Image: Ancient Egyptian inscription
Supreme Council of Antiquities via Reuters
An ancient Egyptian inscription, unearthed by archaeologists while exploring an old military road in Sinai, is shown.
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updated 5/28/2008 3:27:08 PM ET 2008-05-28T19:27:08

Archaeologists have unearthed 3,000-year-old remains of the largest ancient Egyptian fortified city while exploring an old military road in Sinai that once connected Egypt to Palestine, the antiquities authority said Wednesday.

Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that archaeologists unearthed a relief of King Thutmose II (1516-1504 B.C.), thought to be the first such royal monument found in Sinai. It indicates that Thutmose II may have built a fort in the area.

A 500-by-250 yard mud brick fort with several four-yard-high towers dating to King Ramses II (1304-1237 B.C.) were unearthed in the same area, he said.

Hawass said early studies suggested this fort had been Egypt's military headquarters from the New Kingdom (1569-1081 B.C.) until the Ptolemaic era, which ran for about 300 years before 30 B.C.

The ancient military road known as "Way of Horus" is close to present-day Rafah, which borders the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Archaeologist Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud, chief of the excavation team, said the discovery was part of a joint project with the Culture Ministry that started in 1986 to find fortresses along that military road.

Abdel-Maqsoud said the mission also located the first ever New Kingdom temple found in northern Sinai which earlier studies indicated was built on top of an 18th Dynasty fort (1569-1315 B.C.).

A collection of reliefs belonging to King Ramses II and King Seti I (1314-1304 B.C.) were also unearthed with rows of warehouses used by the ancient Egyptian army during the New Kingdom era to store wheat and weapons, he said.

Abdel-Maqsoud said the new discoveries corresponded to the inscriptions of the Way of Horus found on the walls of the Karnak Temple in Luxor which illustrated the features of 11 military fortresses that protected Egypt's eastern borders. Only five of them have been discovered to date.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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