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A view of the exposed part of the moat

Slovak team discovered the moat of Rameses III’s fortress in Egypt

28. 11. 2023 | 273 visits

During November, the research team from the Slovak Academy of Sciences is carrying out the thirteenth season of field research in the Egyptian site of Tell-el-Retábí. This time, the team focuses on the westernmost edge of the settlement hill - tell, which in the past regularly suffered from the Nile floods from the west. The first weeks of work brought an interesting discovery in the form of a unique moat, which probably protected the fortress of Pharaoh Ramesses III.

"Based on the three cuts, we can determine that the moat lines the western wall of the ruler´s fortification at a distance of about 20 meters. The ruler was murdered by conspirators in his own harem,” Jozef Hudec of the Institute of Oriental Studies SAS explains the story connected with the discovered object.

The ancient Egyptians dug a moat three cubits deep, about 160 cm, into the gravel bed. The slope of the moat wall was very steep. "The attackers probably needed ladders to get out of this gravel trap. Ancient relief prove that attackers usually came with ladders. However, the most important thing for the defenders was not that the attackers did get out of the moat, but that they slowed down and formed larger groups. Then they could shoot them with arrows or slingshots," explains the Egyptologist.

The newly discovered moat did not have to be connected to a water source. In fact, Egyptologists came across groundwater during their research. "The current ground water level may not correspond to the ancient one, when the Aswan Dam was not standing, and the water level depended on the Nile floods," points out J. Hudec.

In addition to research, Slovak experts provided several Egyptian colleagues with field practice. As part of the training, they acquired basic information about the use of geodesy and pedology in archaeology and became familiar with research documentation techniques. The chief inspector of the Ismaili monument area and the director of its training department also took part in the presentation of training certificates. Both appreciated the help and friendliness of Slovak experts.

The multidisciplinary team from Slovakia consists of Egyptologists, archaeologists, a surveyor and a pedologist. The research is financed by the APVV grant of the Institute of Oriental Studies SAS and the Gedíd Aigyptos Foundation.