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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Feature: Egypt to turn Tanis archaeological site into open-air museum - Xinhua |
Feature: Egypt to turn Tanis archaeological site into open-air museum


People visit an open-air museum in Sharqiya, Egypt, on Sept. 15, 2018. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

by Marwa Yahya

SHARQIYA, Egypt, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Some 130 kilometers away from the Egyptian capital Cairo, work
continued to revive the north capital of ancient Egypt, San al-Hagar or Tanis and to turn it into an
open-air museum.

The ongoing work aimed to put into place the monumental blocks, columns and statues that have been
laying on sands since their discovery in the 19th century, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled
al-Anany said during an inspection tour to the Tanis site on Saturday.

People visit an open-air museum in Sharqiya, Egypt, on Sept. 15, 2018. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

Over the past few weeks, Egyptian workers have reerected two big columns, two obelisks, and colossal
statutes of Ramses II, he added.

Tanis boasts many monumental relics and is one of the country's largest and most impressive historic
sites. Egyptologists have dubbed it the "Luxor of the North."

At the end of the New kingdom in 11th century B.C., Egypt has entered a period of division. To the
North, the rulers of the 21st dynasty built a new capital city, Tanis. Their power did not extend
beyond Lower Egypt. To the South, the powerful High Priests of Amun were controlling Upper Egypt
from the ancient city of Thebes (today's Luxor).

"Tanis is Thebes of the north. It contained temples of Amun, Mut and Khonsu," al-Anany said, noting
that the site has gone through many archeological works starting from 1722.

Excavation by the French archaeologist Pierre Montet between the 1920s and 1950s were considered the
most important, as it unearthed the royal necropolis of the 21st and the 22nd dynasties in 1939. The
unique treasures are now on display in the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo.


A man visits an open-air museum in Sharqiya, Egypt, on Sept. 15, 2018. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

In December 2017, the Supreme Council of Antiquities decided to resume work in the site after the
last mission finished its excavation and restoration activities in 1965, according to the minister.

"We are only starting. We put the monuments on stone mounts to isolate them from the ground and to
protect them from subsoil water, salts and moisture, and to better display the artifacts," the
minister added.

Mitwally Saleh, manager of Tanis archeological site, said the Egyptian missions to rescue and revive
the monuments of Tanis site have gone a long time of uncompleted stages.

The Tanis site includes houses gates, ritual wells, royal necropolis, tombs, obelisks, colossi,
sanctuary area, sacred lake of Amun and Khnsu temple area, columns, Horus temple and Mut temple,
according to Saleh.

Rescue work first started in Amun temple from the gate which was decorated with two statues of king
Ramses II in poor conditions, Saleh said.

"With the help of the researchers, archeologists and even residents, we managed to restore two
statues and put them at the gate of the temple with one looking to the east and the other to the
west as they were in ancient times," he added.

The Amun temple is 300-meter-long and 200-meter-wide. The ongoing work includes the walls, the
houses of the priests and servants the sacred lake, Saleh said.

More than 20,000 pieces from the temple will be displayed in a very huge museum in near future, he

"I feel very proud to be part of the rescue work in Egypt Delta Capital as my father was a member of
the mission to restore Luxor temples," said Mahmoud Saleety, a senior worker in the famous Karnak
Temple who came to Tanis with his team.

"Lifting and restoring one statue took seven days of my clever team. However, it took two days for
building the base of one obelisk and reerected it, while the column took only one day," he told Xinhua.

"We finished two obelisks and plan to finish another 12 in the coming few months and to restore four
statutes," he added.

"Tanis archaeological site will surely amaze local and global tourists, as it contains one third of
Egypt's artifacts," said al-Anany.

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