Ayn Sukhna and Wadi el-Jarf: Two newly discovered pharaonic harbours on the Suez Gulf

Pierre Tallet

Ayn Sukhna is located on the western bank of the Suez Gulf, about 120km east of the modern city of Cairo. The Arabic name of the site derives from the presence of a hot water spring which emerges at the foot of Gebel el Galãla el-Bahariya overlooking the site and flows directly into the nearby sea. The site’s most apparent feature, from the outset, has been an inscribed rock wall which dominates the area where the archaeological ruins are concentrated. In particular, it bears an important series of inscriptions dating to the Middle Kingdom (2000–1800 BC), which immediately point to a connection between Ayn Sukhna and the South Sinai zone mined by the Egyptians during the pharaonic period.

Since 2001, the excavation and study of the archaeological remains have been conducted annually by a joint team from the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, the University of Ismailia and the University of Paris-Sorbonne. It has been gradually established during the course of these investigations that the site was occupied extensively for more than a millennium during the pharaonic period, from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom. The latest finds clearly indicate that the place was used as a harbour since the remains of dismantled boats of the Middle Kingdom were discovered inside a huge complex of storage galleries. The place has also yielded strong evidence of its occupation during the Old Kingdom with several official reports giving accounts of seagoing expeditions to the ‘Terraces of the turquoise’ during Dynasty 5. The first season at Wadi el-Jarf and the discovery of an Old Kingdom harbour there by a joint mission of the University of Paris-Sorbonne and the University of Assiut will also be discussed.

Ayn Sukhna and Wadi el-Jarf: Two newly discovered pharaonic harbours on the Suez Gulf

To reference this article we suggest:

Tallet, Pierre. 2012. Ayn Sukhna and Wadi el-Jarf: Two newly discovered pharaonic harbours on the Suez Gulf. BMSAES 18: 147–68. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/online_journals/bmsaes/issue_18/tallet.aspx

Contact the author
pierre.tallet@wanadoo.fr