updated 6/30/2004 2:57:09 PM ET 2004-06-30T18:57:09

An Egyptian archaeological team has uncovered battlements from Pharaonic times at the ancient eastern gateway to Egypt in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, the Culture Ministry said Wednesday.

The find includes three fortifications built in the area of Tharu, an ancient city that stood on a branch of the Nile that has long since dried up, a ministry statement said.

The battlements stand on the ancient Horus Road, a vital commercial and military artery from ancient Egypt to Asia. The discoveries, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of the Suez Canal, form part of the defenses that stretched along the route.

Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in the statement that the Horus Road was fortified through the ages — starting from Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, beginning around 2000 B.C., until the Roman and Greek eras that start around 323 B.C.

“The presence of three fortifications in one area, each built on the ruins of the other, confirms the strategic importance of the site, particularly of the city of Tharu as the entrance to the Nile Valley from the east,” Hawass said.

Among the finds was a fort dating to the era of the Hyksos, a people believed to have invaded Egypt around the 17th century B.C. The statement said the fort was probably destroyed in fighting when the Hyksos were expelled by Kamose and Ahmose in the 16th century B.C.

Seti I, one of Egypt’s great warrior pharaohs who reigned from about 1318 to 1304 B.C, launched his campaigns along the Horus Road. His exploits are recorded in engravings in the Karnak temple complex in Luxor.

Another find was a set of battlements, including the southern wall of a fortified city dating from the 16th to 14th centuries B.C. The last find was a fort used from the Hyksos era to the Persian era that began around 525 B.C.

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