Taposiris Magna

Th. Gonon © mission archéologique de Taposiris Magna

Taposiris Magna is an Egyptian city of Hellenistic foundation, about 60 km west of Alexandria. The French mission is studying the history of this port city, located both on the western end of Lake Mariout and on the Mediterranean. It is directed by Marie-Françoise Boussac, Professor of Greek History at the University of Paris X - Nanterre.

The excavation campaigns
(by years)


Marie-Françoise Boussac (Université de Paris X-Nanterre)

Historical presentation

Taposiris Magna is located in the north of Egypt, on the Mediterranean coast. It is located about sixty kilometres west of Alexandria.

Taposiris Magna was founded in the Ptolemaic period, at the beginning of the 3rd century BC. It was not founded ex-nihilo, but a few kilometres from another city, Plinthine, which would date back, as far as we know, to the 6th century BC. Taposiris Magna does not replace this city, but comes in juxtaposition to it.
Taposiris Magna will develop until Roman times : Claude describes it as one of the gateways to Egypt, just like Alexandria or Pelusium.
At the beginning of the Muslim era, the city seems to be gradually abandoned. Thus, this foundation did not experience the prosperity of its neighbour, Alexandria.

Taposiris Magna mainly developped on the southern flank of the sandstone dunes separating the sea from the lake. A massive temple dedicated to Osiris dominates the site at the top of the the hill. On the slopes, various vestiges are known, such as more or less luxurious houses, but also underground baths. The lower part of the city shows a denser urban organisation, with craft districts that seem to develop in contact with the lake. This latter had facilities, such as a port, fishponds, etc. A hydraulic gallery is known, crossing the site from south to north (the flow direction is still undefined). In addition, numerous underground cisterns and wells seem to cover the city to ensure its water supply.

The site has attracted the attention of archaeologists since the very beginning of the 20th century, when the Italian Evaristo Breccia conducted the first excavations and surveys. He made a description of the city, but discovered in particular the underground baths and the large underground gallery. Thereafter, during the 1970s, an American team intervened in the lower city, close to the port. Later, in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Hungarian Vörös focused on the summit temple. Finally, in 1998, Marie-Françoise Boussac set up the current study program for the entire city.

How Eveha International Participates



French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Devlopment
French Insitute of oriental archaeology (IFAO)
ArScAn (Archéologie et Sciences de l’Antiquité, CNRS UMR 7041)
HiSoMa (Histoire et Sources des Mondes Antiques, CNRS, UMR 5189)