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New discovery in Qantara West suggests date of origin of Tel Al-Dafna site

Lava remains of San Turin volcano unearthed in Tel Al-Dafna archaeological site in western Ismailiya

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 30 Dec 2015
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Tel Al-Dafna site
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During excavation work carried out at the Tel Al-Dafna archaeological site located at the Al-Qantara West area in Ismailiya, 11 kilometres west of the Suez Canal, an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Egyptologist Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud stumbled upon what is believed to be lava remains from the San Turin volcano.

The volcano is considered the first destructive environmental phenomenon from the Mediterranean to hit Cyprus in antiquity.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty described the discovery as “very important” because it would help in uncovering more history from the Tel Al-Dafna site.

The oldest archaeological evidence discovered in Tel Al-Dafna dates back to the ancient Egyptian 26th dynasty, though the lava remains can be from an era before the 26th dynasty.

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Archaeologists unearthing fossiles

Abdel-Maqsoud told Ahram Online that the mission has also uncovered part of a fortified island surrounded with mud and brick shields used as wave breakers as well as to protect the west side of King Psamtik I’s citadel from floods.

Abdel-Maqsoud continued to say that the citadel was built in such an area so as to protect the country’s eastern gate from any invasion. Its fence area is 20 metres thick, and inside it houses a collection of fortified residential houses.

In addition to the citadel, King Psamtik I built two other forts; one in the Marya area on the north coast to protect the country from Libyan invasion, and the other on Elephantine Island in the Upper Egypt's Aswan to stand against Ethiopian threat.

Abdel-Maqsoud pointed out that a collection of mastaba remains, the ruins of industrial workshops, ovens used in dismantling metals, and baking bread were also found.

A collection of fish and crocodile fossils was also unearthed.

Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department Mahmoud Afifi told Ahram Online that excavation works at the Tel Al-Dafna site are being carried out by the antiquities ministry in collaboration with the housing and defence ministries, as well as with the Sinai Construction Authority.

The work comes within the framework of the development of archaeological sites along the 30 June Corridor. This section of the Tel Al-Dafna excavation work is in its third phase.

Afifi added that in addition to the Tel Al-Dafna work, another area 2300m long and 100m in width has been totally excavated and was empty of any archaeological evidence.

Afifi highlighted that the Tel Dafna site is one of five archaeological sites selected on Egypt’s eastern gate to be developed within the project of Egypt’s military history panorama and the development of archaeological sites along the Suez Canal.

These sites are Tel-Habwa, Tel-Abu-Saify, Pelusium and Tel Al-Maskhouta.

Eldamaty expressed his strong appreciation for the Egyptian excavation mission working at the site, as it has helped in the discovery of many important sites. He added that the mission would help research and study along Pelusium branch of the Nile, as well as possibly work on archaeological sites on the banks of the Nile that have not yet been revealed. 

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Eldamaty (left) and Abdel Maqsoud (right) at Tel Al-Dafna site

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