Washington, June 3 : Archaeologists have uncovered more remains from a giant fortress in Tharu, the largest known fortified city in ancient Egypt, which sits near the modern-day border town of Rafah.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the fortress, also known as Tjaru or Tharo, covered about 31 acres (13 hectares), and was discovered in July 2007.
Tharu helped guard the empire's eastern front in the Sinai Peninsula and served as a military cornerstone for Egypt's ancient leaders.
"It was built (more than) 3,000 years ago, and it was an important and strategic point," said Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The fort's remains were found as part of a project that began in 1986 to explore the "Horus Way," an ancient military road that connected 11 fortresses linking Egypt and Palestine.
The path also served as an entry point for traders coming from Asia.
"This is the only way to enter Egypt by land coming from the east," said Fayza Haikal, a professor of archaeology and Egyptology at the American University in Cairo. "It was the way not only for armies but also commercial expeditions," he added.
So far, Egyptian authorities have discovered four fortresses along the Horus Way, which essentially formed the same line as Egypt's current eastern border.
Among the ruins, archaeologists uncovered reliefs depicting several pharaohs-including Thutmose II, who reigned from 1492 to 1479 B.C.; Seti I, who ruled from 1294 to 1279 B.C.; and Ramses II, ruler from 1279 to 1213 B.C.
This indicates that the fort was one of the most important locations in ancient Egypt.
"All of the kings arrived here. The inscriptions we found explain this," said Abdel-Maqsoud.
The Thutmose relief is thought to be the first such royal monument to be found in Sinai, suggesting that he may have built a fort in the area, according to Egyptian officials.
Tharu subsequently served as the headquarters for Egypt's vast military empires. The fort lasted for at least a thousand years after Seti's death, including periods of rule by the Greeks and Romans.
Tharu stood for a millennium mostly for one reason: its size. Its walls stretched 1,640 feet (500 meters) long and 820 feet (250 meters) wide.
"A fortification like that, with the Nile also-it must have been very difficult to attack Egypt," said Abdel-Maqsoud.
Tharu's walls were lined with towers 66 feet (20 meters) wide and 13 feet (4 meters) tall that overlooked the east bank of a now desiccated tributary of the Nile.