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Lost Cities

Posted by: johnmcc

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Mystery and intrigue has shrouded the lost city of Pi-Ramesses, built over 3,000 years ago in the Nile Delta by the great Pharaoh Ramses ll, which simply disappeared. For centuries, archaeologists have searched for this magnificent ancient city and when Pierre Montet, a respected French Egyptologist, and his expedition finally found the site, it was in the wrong place. Ramses ll built a spectacular capital city, full of opulence with hundreds of statues carved in his likeness, huge temples, beautiful villas and a palace fit for a king. Born a commoner, Ramses ll became a Master Builder and eventually ruled Egypt for 67 years. Due to his long life and siring over 100 children, Ramses ll known as ‘Ramses the Great’ was revered as a God and, wanting to reflect his status, built Pi-Ramesses which vanished and then reappeared in a place that did not exist when Ramses ll was alive.

In the 1920s Pierre Montet came across fabulous half buried statues, temple blocks and obelisks all bearing the cartouche of Ramses the Great on a site in Tanis and declared that he had found Pi-Ramesses. But had he? Other archaeologists in the 1960s, Manfred Bietak and Edgar Pusch, tried to solve the puzzle and discovered that by using original maps of the Nile and tracing the original course of the river, they were able to find a settlement, 30 kilometres south of Tanis which proved to be the real site of Pi-Ramesses. On this site magnificent buildings and a beautiful palace had once been built.


Throughout history the River Nile created different channels through the Nile Delta and it was on one of these branches that Pi-Ramesses was originally constructed, a vibrant, wealthy multi-cultural port. It was when this branch of the Nile became silted some 150 years after the death of Ramses ll, that the citizens decided to move the Capital, brick by brick, block by block, all the statues and all the obelisks to a new branch of the Nile which eventually became Tanis. In 1939 Pierre Montet discovered a Royal Necropolis whilst excavating Tanis. It contained three complete royal tombs with stunning items of gold including beautifully detailed funerary masks of the Pharaohs, jewellery, precious stones and funerary wares. These beautiful artefacts can mostly be seen in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo which you can visit on a Nile Cruise & Cairo holiday.

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