The Egyptian archaeological mission working at the Tel el-Hebua (Tharo) site in the northern Sinai area has discovered the remains of a building constructed with mud bricks that constituted one of the royal residences or palaces located at Egypt’s eastern gateway.

This was announced by Dr. Mohamed Ismail Khaled, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, who stated that initial scientific studies conducted on artifacts found within the building indicated that it dates back to the reign of King Thutmose III of the 18th Dynasty in the New Kingdom period. The building’s architectural design and the scarcity of ceramic fragments within it suggest that it was likely used as a royal residence.

The Secretary-General emphasized the significance of this discovery, as it reveals important information about Egypt’s military history during the New Kingdom, especially in the Sinai region.

Dr. Hisham Hussein, Director-General of Sinai Antiquities and supervisor of the archaeological mission, said the discovered building consists of two consecutive rectangular halls with several adjacent rooms.

Detail of the excavations in the royal residence of Thutmose III
Detail of the excavations in the royal residence of Thutmose III. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt

The building’s main entrance is located in the north, at the center, leading to a first rectangular hall with three limestone column bases at its center. This first hall connects to a smaller, rectangular hall with two entrances, one to the east and one to the west, which are narrower than the building’s main entrance. In the center of the second hall are two limestone column bases, each one meter in diameter.

The second hall leads to two separate rooms, one to the east and one to the west, both connected to the hall via entrances opposite to the hall’s entries. The mission also discovered stone thresholds for the room entrances, as well as a set of small adjacent rooms attached to the building from the exterior toward the east.

Professor Ramadan Helmy, Director of the Northern Sinai Archaeological Area and head of the mission, stated that the building was dated based on the sequence of layers and ceramic fragments found outside the building, as well as the discovery of a scarab bearing the name of King Thutmose III, suggesting the residence was used by this pharaoh during one of his military campaigns to expand the Egyptian empire eastward. Helmy added that the building was fortified at a later stage with a surrounding wall and a main gate located to the east.

Cartridge with the name of Thutmose III
Cartridge with the name of Thutmose III. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt

It’s worth noting that during the Third Intermediate Period, from the beginning of the 21st Dynasty to the 25th Dynasty, the entire site was used as a cemetery, with a variety of locally made amphoras discovered in a sequence of different layers used for child burials, dating from the early 21st Dynasty to approximately the 25th Dynasty.

Previous findings by the archaeological mission in the area consist of burials within tombs constructed with reused door jambs and stone blocks engraved with scenes and royal cartouches from the New Kingdom period, now dated to the Third Intermediate Period.

Several important buildings were also discovered in three successive layers, all dating to the 26th Dynasty, with foundational deposits related to one of these buildings (the last archaeological layer at the site), including a small model of a faience tablet bearing the name of King Amasis II, one of the last pharaohs of the 26th Dynasty.


Sources

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt


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