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New publication by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology

Theological defences in ancient Egypt

Oxford University’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA) has published a new book on Thonis-Heracleion and the archaeology in the Canopic region in Egypt. The volume Theological defences of the Canopic Gate in the Saïte Period, by Anne-Sophie von Bomhard, investigates a temple at the sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion, excavated by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) under the direction of Franck Goddio, and explores the theological defences conceived by the Egyptians to guard the Canopic gate during the Saïte Period (664 – 525 BC).

The temple was located on an island or a peninsula at the point where the waters of the Nile met the Mediterranean Sea. The structure itself was largely robbed in antiquity, but a remarkable range of inscribed bronze objects engraved with royal and divine names were discovered within its demolition layer. Their documentation, analysis and interpretation form the core of this volume, demonstrating the crucial role the temple played in the defence of the kingdom of the Two Lands. As the pre-eminent gateway to Egypt from the Mediterranean during the twenty-sixth dynasty, Thonis-Heracleion was an entrance that needed protection. Offering theological rather than physical protection, the temple was a bastion at a time in the Saïte Period when Egypt was increasingly opening up to trade and other links with the Greek world far beyond its shores.