The Fortress of Kings (ca. 1500 – 1000 BC)

By: The Scribe on Sunday, October 21, 2007

The fort of Tharo is one of the largest fortresses found from the Pharonic era in Egypt, and is approximately 3000 years old.

The fort of Tjaru, also called Tharo, was an ancient Egyptian fortress along the major road from Egypt to Canaan. Known as ‘the way of Horus’, the road was extremely important for both travel and trade – and in times of war, whoever controlled the road essentially controlled the territory. Previously known only through descriptions and images, archaeologists have finally uncovered the fort itself – and it turns out that this fort was one of the largest fortresses to have existed during the Pharonic era in ancient Egypt.

The walls of the fort were made with mud brick and were 13 meters thick! Twenty-four watchtowers were built above the parapets on the walls, and a deep moat was dug around the entire perimeter of the city – and this was only one fortress in a chain of 11 that spanned all the way from the Suez to the current Egyptian-Palestinian border.

Inside the fortress, workers discovered graves containing horses and soldiers buried together, attesting to the severity of the battles in this area during the Egyptian struggle against invaders known as the Hyksos. In the 17th century BC, the Hyksos had invaded Egypt and eventually took control of the country, ruling the entire Nile during a time known as the “Second Intermediate Period”. They managed to hold the country for approximately 100 years before the Egyptians took back control of their land – and in order to secure themselves against future Hyksos invasions, giant fortresses were built along the river.

Although clear evidence of this specific fortress had not been found until now, a depiction of Tjaru could be seen on the walls of Karnak Temple in Luxor – depicting everything from the moat around the fortress to the large, wooden beams that spanned areas of its construction. Tjaru was also mentioned under the name ‘Silu’ in one of the Amarna letters, which were a series of correspondences between the Egyptian rulers and their representatives – ie. diplomats – residing in Canaan during the 15th century BC.

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