In 2012, Éveha International took part in excavations at Tanis, as part of the Mission Française des Fouilles de Tanis (EPHE/MAE). This partnership was renewed in 2014 in the context of a new MFFT research programm, directed by François Leclère.
Location and historical summary
Located in the north-east of the Nile Delta in Egypt, approximately 120 kilometres from Cairo, the tell of Tanis has a surface area of almost 180 hectares and rises to approximately 30 metres in height, overlooking the cultivated plain and the modern town of San el-Hagar.
Tanis dates back to no earlier than the very end of the 2nd millennium BC, and under the 21st and 22nd dynasties (1069-730 BC) it becomes the political, religious and funerary centre of the north of the country, which was at that time divided by serious discord. The town succeeded Avaris and Pi-Ramesses, the former capitals of Pharoahs Hyksos and Ramesses, which were located beside one another about 25 kilometres to the south, on a neighbouring branch of the Nile. Tanis thus became the new main Mediterranean port of Egypt. It was replaced in turn by Naucratis from the 7th-6th centuries BC, which was next to the new dynastic residence at Sais, in the west of the Delta. Tanis nevertheless continued to develop over the following centuries and remained an important urban centre until the Romano-Byzantine period. Archaeological discoveries have demonstrated that Tanis was probably originally conceived as a replica of Thebes in Upper Egypt, imitating the geographical and architectural layout of its temples, dedicated to the same triad of tutelary deities – Amun, Mut and Khonsu. Thus, the temples of Amun and Mut were located to the north of the site, like those at Karnak, while the temple of Amun of Opet, to the south, recalls the temple at Luxor. However, there are a number of differences with the Theban model. The royal necropolis, made up of the tombs of the rulers of the 21st and 22nd dynasties, was incorporated into the sacred zone of Amun. The discovery of this group – intact – during the second world war was the most important of its kind after that of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The development of the cult and temple of Horus of Mesen, over the course of Tanis’ history, is another particularity of the area.
Due to the absence of stone resources in the area, the construction of the temples at Tanis was principally carried out by reusing blocks, statues, obelisks and columns from the neighbouring towns of Avaris and Pi-Ramesses. However, the majority of the town’s ruins consist of an impressive quantity of mud brick structures, dating from the successive phases of occupation of the town up to the Byzantine period.
The site of San el-Hagar was first identified in the 18th century, and was explored and surveyed by the French Campaign in Egypt. During the 19th century it was occasionally excavated by French and British archaeologists. From 1929 to 1956, the site underwent regular excavation, directed by Pierre Montet, professor at the University of Strasbourg and later at the Collège de France. Several spectacular discoveries were made during this period, including the royal tombs, partly intact, in which rich material was discovered. From 1965, the Mission Française des Fouilles de Tanis (MFFT) took over from the Montet project. The MFFT was created by the Religious Sciences Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études under the patronage of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and with principal funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was initially directed by its founder, Professor Jean Yoyotte, until 1984, and then by Philippe Brissaud until 2013.
In autumn of 2013, a new MFFT research project was launched by François Leclère, who has taken up the position of director of the archaeological work on the site. This project focuses mainly on the urban structure of the town and its riverine and lacustrine surroundings, but also involves a renewal of epigraphical studies relating to the Third Intermediate Period.
How Eveha International Participates
MFFT (EPHE, Section des Sciences Religieuses, EA 4519 – Egypte ancienne : archéologie, langue, religion. Wladimir Golénischeff Centre/French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
CNRS, UMR 8167 – Orient et Méditerranée, Équipe Mondes pharaoniques, University of Paris 4 (France)
CNRS, UMR 5133 – Laboratoire Archéorient: Environnements et sociétés de l’Orient ancien. Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, University Lumière, Lyon 2 (France)
CNRS, UMR 7362 – Laboratoire Image, Vile Environnement, University Pasteur, Strasbourg (France)
Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk (Poland)
French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (France)
Surpeme Council of Antiquities (Egypt)