Tanis, Information on the Monuments of Tanis, Egypt


Though no longer, Tanis was an important City in the pharaonic period. It is located just outside the town of San al-Hagar which is about 44 miles northeast of Zagazig. Many believe that this was the Biblical city from which the Exodus began, but many will also remember it as the location where Indiana Jones discovered the 'Lost Ark' in the movie.

Tanis was called Djane by the Egyptians and Zoan by the Hebrews. We believe it was founded around the time of the 20th Dynasty and became the capital of the Fourteenth Nome of Lower Egypt. During the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, it became the capital of Egypt. However, to due flooding problems, it declined during the Roman occupations, and by the 14th century, the region was deserted. The current nearby town of San al-Hagar was founded in 1821 as a result of land reclamation.

The site has been under excavation since 1722, first by a French priest, Father Claude Sicard, who discovered the site, and then Flinders Petrie, Pierre Montet, who discovered the royal necropolis of the kings of the third Intermediate period, then Jean Yoyotte, Philippe Brissaud, and the work continues on today.

Leading to the main temple, the Gate of Shoshenq III, which has no foundation, is approached from an avenue bordered by carved stone blocks and fragments of colossi of Ramses II. The gate itself is made from carved blocks removed from other sites. The pink granite triad is of Re, Ramses and Ptah-Tatenen, and beyond that are the remains of the columns of Ramses II.

There are double mudbrick walls around the temple. The inner wall was built by Psusennes I, while the outer was built during the 30th Dynasty. Inside the remains of the walls, little is left of the temple complex of Amun.

The necropolis is inside the walls built by Psusennes, and contain 21st and 22nd Dynasty tombs. These include, from south to north, three unknown tombs built of material removed from other sites, the Tomb of Osorkon II, Psusennes I, and Shoshenq III.

Osorkon II's tomb contains a large granite sarcophagus of of Osorkon II, and the sepulcher of Prince Hornakht, his son. One chamber within the tomb is also that of Takelot II.

The antechamber to the Tomb of Psusennes I is reached by a vertical shaft, and is decorated with images of protective gods, including one where Psusennes I is shown worshipping Osiris.

Artifacts from several kings are found within the tomb. In the antechamber is a sepulcher of Heqakheperre Shoshenq, apparently a king we know little or nothing about. Rooms leading off the antechamber contain the kings Psusennes and Amenemope, but the room where Amenemope was buried was intended for Queen Mutnedjemet. Other chambers contain the sepulcher of Ankhefenmut and General Wundebawdjed.

The Tomb of Shoshenq III is built from 21st Dynasty carved limestone blocks, mostly removed from other locations. In fact, the King's own sarcophagi was taken from another site. The Tomb is reached though a shaft, and in the burial chamber are scenes from the Book of the Dead and the Book of Night.

There are several other Temples in the vicinity. North of the Amun Temple is what remains of the Temple of Nectanebo, dedicated to Khonsu. To the east and outside the Psusennes walls is the small Temple of the East, which has palm columns removed from of Ramses II origins. To the south and opposite the gate of Ptolemy I is a 30th Dynasty temple, while to the southwest of the area is a Temple of Anta dedicated to Mut and rebuilt during the Saite and Ptolemaic periods.

Excavations continue in this area, and more discoveries are being made. While little yet is known, there is also a Third Intermediate period necropolis in the area, perhaps several more temples, including one that appears to have been as large as the the the Great Temple of Amun.

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