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Tanis ( grc, Τάνις or Τανέως ) or San al-Hagar ( ar, صان الحجر, Ṣān al-Ḥaǧar; egy, ḏꜥn.t ; ; cop, ϫⲁⲛⲓ or or ) is the Greek name for ancient Egyptian ''ḏꜥn.t'', an important archaeological site in the north-eastern
Nile Delta The Nile Delta ( ar, دلتا النيل, or simply , is the delta formed in Lower Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to ...
of
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia via a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. It is bordered by the Medite ...
, and the location of a city of the same name. It is located on the Tanitic branch of the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin: Áman Dawū is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa. It flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile is the longest river in Africa and has historically been considered the longest ...
, which has long since silted up. The first study of Tanis dates to 1798 during Napoléon Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt. Engineer Pierre Jacotin drew up a map of the site in the '' Description de l'Égypte''. It was first excavated in 1825 by Jean-Jacques Rifaud, who discovered the two pink granite sphinxes now in the
Musée du Louvre The Louvre ( ), or the Louvre Museum ( ), is the world's most-visited museum, and an historic landmark in Paris, France. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the ''Mona Lisa'' and the ''Venus de Milo''. A central l ...
, and then by François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette between 1860 and 1864, and subsequently by William Matthew Flinders Petrie from 1883 to 1886. The work was taken over by
Pierre Montet Jean Pierre Marie Montet (27 June 1885 – 19 June 1966) was a French Egyptologist. Biography Montet was born in Villefranche-sur-Saône, Rhône, and began his studies under Victor Loret at the University of Lyon. He excavated at Byblos in ...
from 1929 to 1956, who discovered the royal necropolis dating to the Third Intermediate Period in 1939. The Mission française des fouilles de Tanis (MFFT) has been studying the site since 1965 under the direction of
Jean Yoyotte Jean Yoyotte (4 August 1927 – 1 July 2009) was a French Egyptologist, Professor of Egyptology at the Collège de France and director of research at the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE). Biography Born in 1927 at Lyon, he attended t ...
and Philippe Brissaud, and François Leclère since 2013. Today, the main parts of the temple dedicated to
Amun-Ra Amun (; also ''Amon'', ''Ammon'', ''Amen''; egy, jmn, reconstructed as (Old Egyptian and early Middle Egyptian) → (later Middle Egyptian) → (Late Egyptian), cop, Ⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ, Amoun) romanized: ʾmn) was a major ancient Egyptian ...
can still be distinguished by the presence of large obelisks that marked the various pylons as in other Egyptian temples. Now fallen to the ground and lying in a single direction, they may have been knocked down by a violent earthquake during the Byzantine era. They form one of the most notable aspects of the Tanis site. Archaeologists have counted more than twenty. This accumulation of remnants from different epochs contributed to the confusion of the first archaeologists who saw in Tanis the biblical city of Zoan in which the Hebrews would have suffered pharaonic slavery. Pierre Montet, in inaugurating his great excavation campaigns in the 1930s, began from the same premise. He was hoping to discover traces that would confirm the accounts of the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. T ...
. His own excavations gradually overturned this hypothesis, even if he was defending this biblical connection until the end of his life. It was not until the discovery of
Qantir Qantir () is a village in Egypt. Qantir is believed to mark what was probably the ancient site of the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II's capital, Pi-Ramesses or Per-Ramesses ("House or Domain of Ramesses"). It is situated around north of Faqou ...
/
Pi-Ramesses Pi-Ramesses (; Ancient Egyptian: , meaning "House of Ramesses") was the new capital built by the Nineteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II (1279–1213 BC) at Qantir, near the old site of Avaris. The city had served as a summer palace under Seti I ...
and the resumption of excavations under Jean Yoyotte that the place of Tanis was finally restored in the long chronology of the sites of the delta.


History

Tanis is unattested before the 19th Dynasty of Egypt, when it was the capital of the 14th nome of
Lower Egypt Lower Egypt ( ar, مصر السفلى '; ) is the northernmost region of Egypt, which consists of the fertile Nile Delta between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historicall ...
. A temple inscription datable to the reign of
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, rꜥ-ms-sw ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', , meaning "Ra is the one who bore him"; ), commonly known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Along with Thutmose III he is often regarded a ...
mentions a "Field of Tanis", while the city ''in se'' is securely attested in two 20th Dynasty documents: the Onomasticon of Amenope and the
Story of Wenamun The Story of Wenamun (alternately known as the Report of Wenamun, The Misadventures of Wenamun, Voyage of Unamūn, or nformallyas just Wenamun) is a literary text written in hieratic in the Late Egyptian language. It is only known from one incomp ...
, as the home place of the pharaoh-to-be Smendes. The earliest known Tanite buildings are datable to the 21st Dynasty. Although some monuments found at Tanis are datable earlier than the 21st Dynasty, most of these were in fact brought there from nearby cities, mainly from the previous capital of
Pi-Ramesses Pi-Ramesses (; Ancient Egyptian: , meaning "House of Ramesses") was the new capital built by the Nineteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II (1279–1213 BC) at Qantir, near the old site of Avaris. The city had served as a summer palace under Seti I ...
, for reuse. Indeed, at the end of the
New Kingdom New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz Albums and EPs * ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartney, 2013 * ''New'' (EP), by Regurgitator ...
the royal residence of Pi-Ramesses was abandoned because the Pelusiac branch of the Nile in the Delta became silted up and its harbour consequently became unusable. After Pi-Ramesses' abandonment, Tanis became the seat of power of the pharaohs of the 21st Dynasty, and later of the
22nd Dynasty The Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt is also known as the Bubastite Dynasty, since the pharaohs originally ruled from the city of Bubastis. It was founded by Shoshenq I. The Twenty-first, Twenty-second, Twenty-third, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-fi ...
(along with
Bubastis Bubastis ( Bohairic Coptic: ''Poubasti''; Greek: ''Boubastis'' or ''Boubastos''), also known in Arabic as Tell-Basta or in Egyptian as Per-Bast, was an ancient Egyptian city. Bubastis is often identified with the biblical ''Pi-Beseth'' ( h ...
). The rulers of these two dynasties supported their legitimacy as rulers of
Upper Egypt Upper Egypt ( ar, صعيد مصر ', shortened to , , locally: ; ) is the southern portion of Egypt and is composed of the lands on both sides of the Nile that extend upriver from Lower Egypt in the north to Nubia in the south. In ancie ...
and
Lower Egypt Lower Egypt ( ar, مصر السفلى '; ) is the northernmost region of Egypt, which consists of the fertile Nile Delta between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historicall ...
with traditional titles and building works, although they pale compared to those at the height of the New Kingdom. A remarkable achievement of these kings was the building and subsequent expansions of the Great temple of
Amun-Ra Amun (; also ''Amon'', ''Ammon'', ''Amen''; egy, jmn, reconstructed as (Old Egyptian and early Middle Egyptian) → (later Middle Egyptian) → (Late Egyptian), cop, Ⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ, Amoun) romanized: ʾmn) was a major ancient Egyptian ...
at Tanis (at the time, Amun-Ra replaced Seth as the main deity of the eastern Delta), while minor temples were dedicated to
Mut Mut, also known as Maut and Mout, was a mother goddess worshipped in ancient Egypt and the Kingdom of Kush in present-day North Sudan. In Meroitic, her name was pronounced mata): 𐦨𐦴. Her name means ''mother'' in the ancient Egyptian ...
and
Khonsu Khonsu ( egy, ḫnsw; also transliterated Chonsu, Khensu, Khons, Chons or Khonshu; cop, Ϣⲟⲛⲥ, Shons) is the ancient Egyptian god of the Moon. His name means "traveller", and this may relate to the perceived nightly travel of the Moon ...
whom, along with Amun-Ra, formed the
Theban Triad The Theban Triad is a triad of Egyptian gods most popular in the area of Thebes, Egypt. The triad The group consisted of Amun, his consort Mut and their son Khonsu. They were favored by both the 18th and 25th Dynasty. At the vast Karnak Te ...
. The intentional emulation towards Thebes is further stressed by the fact that these gods bore their original Theban epithets, leading to Thebes being more commonly mentioned than Tanis itself. Furthermore, the new royal necropolis at Tanis successfully replaced the one in the Theban
Valley of the Kings The Valley of the Kings ( ar, وادي الملوك ; Late Coptic: ), also known as the Valley of the Gates of the Kings ( ar, وادي أبوا الملوك ), is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11t ...
. After the 22nd Dynasty Tanis lost its status of royal residence, but became in turn the capital of the 19th nome of Lower Egypt. Starting from the
30th Dynasty The Thirtieth Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XXX, alternatively 30th Dynasty or Dynasty 30) is usually classified as the fifth Dynasty of the Late Period of ancient Egypt. It was founded after the overthrow of Nepherites II in 380 BC by Nectan ...
, Tanis experienced a new phase of building development which endured during the Ptolemaic Period. It remained populated until its abandonment in
Roman times In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–5 ...
.
In
Late Antiquity Late antiquity is the time of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, generally spanning the 3rd–7th century in Europe and adjacent areas bordering the Mediterranean Basin. The popularization of this periodization in English h ...
, it was the seat of the bishops of Tanis, who adhered to the Coptic Orthodox Church.Siméon Vailhé
"Tanis"
in '' The Catholic Encyclopedia'', Vol. 14. (Robert Appleton Company, 1912).
By the time of John of Nikiû in the 7th century, Tanis appears to have already declined significantly, as it was grouped together with four other towns under a single prefect. The 1885 Census of Egypt recorded San el-Hagar as a
nahiyah A nāḥiyah ( ar, , plural ''nawāḥī'' ), also nahiya or nahia, is a regional or local type of administrative division that usually consists of a number of villages or sometimes smaller towns. In Tajikistan, it is a second-level division w ...
in the district of Arine in Sharqia Governorate; at that time, the population of the city was 1,569 (794 men and 775 women).


Ruins

Though Tanis was briefly explored in the early 19th century, the first large-scale archaeological excavations there were made by Auguste Mariette in the 1860s. In 1866, Karl Richard Lepsius discovered a copy of the Canopus Decree, an inscription in both Greek and Egyptian, at Tanis. Unlike the
Rosetta Stone The Rosetta Stone is a stele composed of granodiorite inscribed with three versions of a decree issued in Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The top and middle texts are in Ancien ...
, discovered 67 years earlier, this inscription included a full hieroglyphic text, thus allowing a direct comparison of the Greek text to the hieroglyphs and confirming the accuracy of Jean-François Champollion's approach to deciphering hieroglyphs. During the subsequent century the French carried out several excavation campaigns directed by
Pierre Montet Jean Pierre Marie Montet (27 June 1885 – 19 June 1966) was a French Egyptologist. Biography Montet was born in Villefranche-sur-Saône, Rhône, and began his studies under Victor Loret at the University of Lyon. He excavated at Byblos in ...
, then by
Jean Yoyotte Jean Yoyotte (4 August 1927 – 1 July 2009) was a French Egyptologist, Professor of Egyptology at the Collège de France and director of research at the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE). Biography Born in 1927 at Lyon, he attended t ...
and subsequently by Philippe Brissaud. For some time the overwhelming amount of monuments bearing the cartouches of Ramesses II or Merenptah led archaeologists to believe that Tanis and Pi-Ramesses were in fact the same. Furthermore, the discovery of the Year 400 Stela at Tanis led to the speculation that Tanis should also be identified with the older, former Hyksos capital,
Avaris Avaris (; Egyptian: ḥw.t wꜥr.t, sometimes ''hut-waret''; grc, Αὔαρις, Auaris; el, Άβαρις, Ávaris; ar, حوّارة, Hawwara) was the Hyksos capital of Egypt located at the modern site of Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern ...
. The later re-discovery of the actual, neighbouring archaeological sites of Pi-Ramesses (
Qantir Qantir () is a village in Egypt. Qantir is believed to mark what was probably the ancient site of the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II's capital, Pi-Ramesses or Per-Ramesses ("House or Domain of Ramesses"). It is situated around north of Faqou ...
) and Avaris ( Tell el-Dab'a) made clear that the earlier identifications were incorrect, and that all the Ramesside and pre-Ramesside monuments at Tanis were in fact brought here from Pi-Ramesses or other cities. There are ruins of a number of temples, including the chief temple dedicated to
Amun Amun (; also ''Amon'', ''Ammon'', ''Amen''; egy, jmn, reconstructed as (Old Egyptian and early Middle Egyptian) → (later Middle Egyptian) → (Late Egyptian), cop, Ⲁⲙⲟⲩⲛ, Amoun) romanized: ʾmn) was a major ancient Egyptian ...
, and a very important royal necropolis of the Third Intermediate Period (which contains the only known intact royal pharaonic burials, the tomb of
Tutankhamun Tutankhamun (, egy, twt-ꜥnḫ-jmn), Egyptological pronunciation Tutankhamen () (), sometimes referred to as King Tut, was an Egyptian pharaoh who was the last of his royal family to rule during the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty (rule ...
having been entered in antiquity). The burials of three pharaohs of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties –
Psusennes I Psusennes I ( egy, pꜣ-sbꜣ-ḫꜥ-n-njwt; Greek Ψουσέννης) was the third pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty who ruled from Tanis between 1047 and 1001 BC. ''Psusennes'' is the Greek version of his original name Pasibkhanu or Pasebakhaenniu ...
, Amenemope and
Shoshenq II Heqakheperre Shoshenq II or Shoshenq IIa was a pharaoh of the Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt. He was the only ruler of this dynasty whose tomb was not plundered by tomb robbers. His final resting place was discovered within an antechamber of Ps ...
– survived the depredations of tomb robbers throughout antiquity. They were discovered intact in 1939 and 1940 by
Pierre Montet Jean Pierre Marie Montet (27 June 1885 – 19 June 1966) was a French Egyptologist. Biography Montet was born in Villefranche-sur-Saône, Rhône, and began his studies under Victor Loret at the University of Lyon. He excavated at Byblos in ...
and proved to contain a large catalogue of gold, jewelry,
lapis lazuli Lapis lazuli (; ), or lapis for short, is a deep-blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color. As early as the 7th millennium BC, lapis lazuli was mined in the Sar-i Sang mi ...
and other precious stones, as well as the funerary masks of these kings. The chief deities of Tanis were Amun; his consort, Mut; and their child Khonsu, forming the Tanite triad. This triad was, however, identical to that of Thebes, leading many scholars to speak of Tanis as the "northern Thebes". In 2009, the Egyptian Culture Ministry reported archaeologists had discovered a
sacred lake Sacred waters are sacred natural sites characterized by tangible topographical land formations such as rivers, lakes, springs, reservoirs, and oceans, as opposed to holy water which is water elevated with the sacramental blessing of a cler ...
in the temple of Mut at Tanis. The lake, built out of limestone blocks, had been 15 meters long and 5 meters deep. It was discovered 12 meters below ground in good condition. The lake could have been built during the late 25th–early
26th Dynasty The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XXVI, alternatively 26th Dynasty or Dynasty 26) dynasty was the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC (although others followed). The dynasty's reign (664–525 ...
. In 2011, analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery, led by archaeologist Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, found numerous related mud-brick walls, streets, and large residences, amounting to an entire city plan, in an area that appears blank under normal images. A French archeological team selected a site from the imagery and confirmed mud-brick structures approximately 30 cm below the surface. However, the assertion that the technology showed 17 pyramids was denounced as "completely wrong" by the Minister of State for Antiquities at the time, Zahi Hawass.


Cultural references

The Biblical story of
Moses Moses hbo, מֹשֶׁה, Mōše; also known as Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu ( Mishnaic Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, ); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, Mūše; ar, موسى, Mūsā; grc, Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs () is considered the most important pr ...
being found in the marshes of the Nile River (
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus (from grc, Ἔξοδος, translit=Éxodos; he, שְׁמוֹת ''Šəmōṯ'', "Names") is the second book of the Bible. It narrates the story of the Exodus, in which the Israelites leave slavery in Biblical Egypt throug ...
, ) is often set at Tanis, which is often identified with Zoan ( ''Ṣōʕan''). In the 1981 '' Indiana Jones'' film ''
Raiders of the Lost Ark ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'' is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Rona ...
'', Tanis is fictitiously portrayed as a lost city which was buried in antiquity by a massive sandstorm, before being rediscovered by a Nazi expedition looking for the
Ark of the Covenant The Ark of the Covenant,; Ge'ez: also known as the Ark of the Testimony or the Ark of God, is an alleged artifact believed to be the most sacred relic of the Israelites, which is described as a wooden chest, covered in pure gold, with an ...
. The Tanis fossil site, which may preserve unique remains from the
Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event (also known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction) was a sudden mass extinction of three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, approximately 66 million years ago. With t ...
, is named after the city. The paleontologist Robert de Palma chose the name based on the significance of Tanis in the decipherment of hieroglyphs, as well as its role in ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'' as the hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant.


Gallery

File:General Wendjebauendjed mask.jpg, Wendjebauendjed's funerary mask File:General Wendebauendjed's cups from Tanis by John Campana.jpg, Wendjebauendjed's cups from Tanis File:Osorkon IIa.jpg, Pharaoh
Osorkon II Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon II was the fifth king of the Twenty-second Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and the son of King Takelot I and Queen Kapes. He ruled Egypt from approximately 872 BC to 837 BC from Tanis, the capital of that dynasty. Afte ...
's tomb at Tanis File:Psusennes I mask by Rafaèle.jpg, The gold funerary mask of
Psusennes I Psusennes I ( egy, pꜣ-sbꜣ-ḫꜥ-n-njwt; Greek Ψουσέννης) was the third pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty who ruled from Tanis between 1047 and 1001 BC. ''Psusennes'' is the Greek version of his original name Pasibkhanu or Pasebakhaenniu ...


See also

* List of ancient Egyptian towns and cities *
List of ancient Egyptian sites This is a list of ancient Egyptian sites, throughout all of Egypt and Nubia. Sites are listed by their classical name whenever possible, if not by their modern name, and lastly with their ancient name if no other is available. Nomes A no ...
, including sites of temples * List of historical capitals of Egypt


Notes


References


Bibliography

*Association française d’Action artistique. 1987. ''Tanis: L’Or des pharaons''. (Paris): Ministère des Affaires Étrangères and Association française d’Action artistique. *Brissaud, Phillipe. 1996. "Tanis: The Golden Cemetery". In ''Royal Cities of the Biblical World'', edited by Joan Goodnick Westenholz. Jerusalem: Bible Lands Museum. 110–149. * Kitchen, Kenneth Anderson. 996 ''The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC)''. 3rd ed. Warminster: Aris & Phillips Limited. *Loth, Marc, 2014. "Tanis – 'Thebes of the North’“. In "Egyptian Antiquities from the Eastern Nile Delta", Museums in the Nile Delta, Vol. 2, ser. ed. by Mohamed I. Bakr, Helmut Brandl, and Faye Kalloniatis. Cairo/Berlin: Opaion. * Montet, Jean Pierre Marie. 1947. ''La nécropole royale de Tanis. Volume 1: Les constructions et le tombeau d’Osorkon II à Tanis''. Fouilles de Tanis, ser. ed. Jean Pierre Marie Montet. Paris: . *———. 1951. ''La nécropole royale de Tanis. Volume 2: Les constructions et le tombeau de Psousennès à Tanis''. Fouilles de Tanis, ser. ed. Jean Pierre Marie Montet. Paris: . *———. 1960. ''La nécropole royale de Tanis. Volume 3: Les constructions et le tombeau de Chechanq III à Tanis''. Fouilles de Tanis, ser. ed. Jean Pierre Marie Montet. Paris. *Stierlin, Henri, and Christiane Ziegler. 1987. ''Tanis: Trésors des Pharaons''. (Fribourg): Seuil. *Yoyotte, Jean. 1999. "The Treasures of Tanis". In ''The Treasures of the Egyptian Museum'', edited by Francesco Tiradritti. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. 302–333.


External links


Archaeology Magazine article on Treasures of Tanis
{{Authority control Populated places established in the 2nd millennium BC Populated places disestablished in the 6th century 1798 archaeological discoveries Hebrew Bible cities Former populated places in Egypt Nile Delta 10th century BC in Egypt Former capitals of Egypt Cities in ancient Egypt