The Tombs Of San Al-Hagar (Tanis)
Tanis, or San El Hagar as it is called today, was once the capital of ancient Egypt. When the Arabs conquered Egypt in the 7th century,
Tanis was called San, and because it had many rocks, the locals called it San El Hagar, which means " Rock of Hagar " in Arabic.
Some historian records assert that Tanis dates back to the Old Kingdom of ancient Egyptian history as some stone blocks held the names of Cheops, Pepi I, and some other Old Kingdom pharaohs.
Tanis is located about 150 kilometers northeast of Cairo, the capital of the 19th province of Lower Egypt or Northern Egypt.
Many Egyptian kings and pharaohs, such as Senosurt I and Amenmehat I, established establishments and structures in Tanis during the Middle Kingdom.
The city truly flourished during the reign of Ramses II to perpetuate the visits of his father and grandfather to the city. The grandfather of Ramses II was one of the army leaders in the reign of Hour Moheb, and his father also visited the city when he became Seti I, the king of Egypt, in 1330 BC.
The city walls, which King Senosurt I constructed out of brick stones and were seven meters wide, remain today. In some locations, the walls bear the king's name.
On the other hand, Ramses II constructed three temples in Tanis: the Grand Temple, the Small Temple, and the Temple of the Gods. Besides many obelisks, this is the only surviving sacred lake that stayed in the Nile Delta.
Tanis had some water storage wells to preserve the required water used by the builders of different city structures, the priests of the temples, and some of the officials working for the king.
The Royal Necropolis of Tanis contains the tombs of the kings and queens of the 21st and 22nd dynasties and some princes and military leaders.
Tanis used to host a large number of obelisks in many locations. However, most of them were destroyed due to earthquakes and the many attacks the area was exposed to.
Moreover, some of the obelisks that were initially constructed to be erected in Tanis were relocated to other places like the obelisk of Ramses II, which was transferred to be put in El Andalus Garden in Cairo, and the other obelisk that belongs to Ramses II as well that has positioned in the Cairo Airport.
In addition, many obelisks were exported from Egypt to be placed in European cities like Rome and Istanbul.
The Name of Tanis
Many historians and archeologists believe that Tanis is the wealthiest historical site in Egypt. The city had the name "Janet" during the reign of the Pharaohs.
The name "Tanis" is derived from the ancient Egyptian word "Jan" and the Coptic name "San," which is mentioned in the Old Testament. All these names refer to the capital of the kings of Egypt's 21st and 22nd dynasties.
The significant geographical location of Tanis and its port situated on the Manzala Lake made the city an essential destination for establishing Alexandria and its port in the Ptolemaic period in Egypt.
The Items that were taken From Tanis
When Napoleon's French army invaded Egypt in the 17th century, the French scientists accompanying the military forces stated in some of their historical records that Tanis survived at the time and that many of its treasures and components were in good condition.
However, many of the items found in Tanis were then taken to Europe. This includes two giant sphinx statues relocated to Paris and some valuable items taken to Berlin and Saint Petersburg. On the other hand, some of the statues and findings unearthed in Tanis were sent to the Louver—no wonder the historical site of Tanis has slightly lost its importance today.
Excavation works in Tanis throughout History.
The first archeologist who did serious excavation works in Tanis was the famous French scientist Auguste Mariette in the middle of the 19th century.
The French archeologist unearthed many exciting items, including several royal statues dating back to the Middle Kingdom. He also stated that Tanis might have been the capital that Ramses II established for himself in the Delta. It was called Pi Ramses, a city for which no evidence or traces were ever found.
The second archeologist to explore Tanis was Petrie, an English Egyptologist who excavated the site at the end of the 19th century. He could configure the whole design of the historical site and its temples. Moreover, some of Petrie's findings are now displayed in the British Museum in London.
However, the most crucial excavation in Tanis was conducted by the famous French Egyptologist Pierre Montet. It lasted for more than 25 years, from 1922 until the 1950s.
Montet proved, by scientific evidence, that Tanis was never Pi Ramses, the capital of Ramses II during the New Kingdom. He is also the archeologist credited with discovering the royal cemetery dating back to Egypt's 21st and 22nd dynasties.
The royal necropolis of Tanis's tombs was constructed using mud brick stones. Many tombs were unearthed in Tanis, four built between 1039 and 991 BC; one belonged to King Amenemope, who ruled Egypt from 993 BC to 984 BC.
Some remarkable sarcophaguses were found in the tombs in Tanis. This includes the royal coffin of Sheshonk III, who ruled Egypt from 825 to 733 BC, and Taklot II, who governed the country from 850 to 825 BC.
The Surviving Sections of Tanis
Today, Tanis looks significantly different than it did centuries ago. The historical site is full of ruins. The central courtyard lies in the heart of the area, and most of the city's fortified historical walls are gone.
Today, the historical site of Tanis C contains many ruined columns that date to different periods of Egyptian history, starting with the Old Kingdom, passing through the Middle Kingdom, and ending with the New Kingdom and the establishments of Ramses II.
The historical site of Tanis today covers an area of around 75 acres. The most crucial structure there is the Temple of Amun, which Ramses II built.
Inside the temple of Amun, two water wells were used as a nilometer, a gadget the ancient Egyptians used to measure the height of the water in the river Nile to prepare for the harvest season.
This is beside the royal cemetery that dates to the 21st and 22nd dynasties, where many golden and silver items were unearthed. They are now on display in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, called "The Treasures of Tanis. "
Tourists can view in Tanis today several historical establishments that include several temples, including the Temple of Amun, the Temple of Mut, the Temple of Khonsu, and the Easter Temple.
The Royal Necropolis, dating to the period of the 21st and the 22nd dynasties located in Tanis, is also of interest, and it is located inside the complex of the Temple of Amun.
There are also the ruins of a sacred lake that the priests of the Temple of Amun used for their rituals, and it is the second largest holy lake that has survived until today after the sacred lake of the Temple of Karnak in Luxor.
Four large wells are inside the Temple of Amun of different shapes and sizes, which show that the ancient Egyptians were clever in using water-preserving methods.
Tanis is indeed not like other remarkable Pharaonic structures that survived in Egypt, like the Temple of Luxor, the Temple of Karnak, and the Temple of Horus in Edfu, which are almost included in every tour to Egypt. Tanis is more likely to be suggested for travelers visiting the country for the second or third time or tourists truly fond of ancient Egyptian history and architecture.