Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Location of Avaris (Part 4)

There is another piece of evidence against the designation of Tanis as Pi-ramesse. An ancient list of Delta cities published by Golenscheff counts Tanis and Pi-ramesse as separate cities, a fact which Gardiner could not explain[1]. Montet argued that this list is confused, and that its listing of Tanis and Pi-ramesse as separate cities is not to be trusted[2]. It seems best, however, to take the Golenscheff list literally and state that Tanis and Pi-ramesse are listed as separate cities because they were separate cities.

If the evidence for Tanis being Pi-ramesse is inconclusive at best, what is the evidence for Kantir? Ancient sources (Papyrus Anatasi III) describe Pi-ramesse as a beautiful area filled with figs, pomegranates, apples and olives and, most importantly , it claims that Pi-ramesse has a harbor[3]. The Kamose Stela describes Kamose’s sacking the “hundreds of ships”[4] of the Hyksos at Avaris, and this strongly suggests a harbor. The area around Kantir is today one of the agriculturally richest in Egypt while the area around Tanis is a barren wasteland of salt flats incapable of supporting the lush vegetation described in ancient texts. The area of Tanis seems to have been, during the Ramesside period, and area of lagoons reached with great difficulty and incapable of having a large harbor, while Tell ed-Dab’a has a harbor along its North side[5].

Another textual reference to Pi-ramesse is that of Abbess Aetheria (who traveled in the area in AD. 533 – 540), who claims that there were only four Roman miles between Faqus (the location of which we know for certain today) and Pi-ramesse. The city of Faqus is only four Roman miles from Tell ed-Dab’a[6]. Furthermore, on the wall of the temple of Ptah is a list of Lower Egyptian districts upon which Tanis and Avaris are mentioned as separate places[7]. This now gives us a text listing Pi-ramesse and Tanis as separate places and a text listing Avaris and Tanis as separate places. This second text casts further doubt upon Montet’s assertion that the Golenscheff list is confused, as both lists must be “confused “ if one of them is.

[1] Ray Weill, “The Problem of the Site of Avaris,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 21 (1935): p. 18.

[2] Weill, p. 17.

[3] Van Seeters, John, The Hyksos (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), pp. , pp. 137 – 9.

[4] Habachi, Labib, Second Stela of Kamose (Gluckstadt: Varlag J. J. Augustin, 1972), , p. 49.

[5] Van Seeters, pp. 139 – 41.

[6] Van Seeters, pp. 148 9.

[7] Weill, p. 21.

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