Shalfak FortNubian Forts - Forts - The Military
Built on the Western Bank at the entrance to the Second Cataract of the River Nile in modern day North Sudan 50 kilometres south of the Fortress of Buhen and 10 kilometres downstream of Semna and Kumma Forts, the Fort at Shalfak now rests on an Island in Lake Nubia since Egypt put in place its High Dam in Aswan which flooded the Fort in 1964.
This was the most northern of the Nubian Line of 17 Forts and was built during the Middle Kingdom Period during the reign of Pharaoh Senusret III during Egypt’s 12th Dynasty. Erected as the geography allowed in an odd-shaped triangle made of huge mudbrick walls, this Fort takes up a floor plan of roughly 1830 meters squared. The Walls reached just over 8 meters high by more than 7.5 meters thick, and the Fortress had a maximum length of 80.7 meters long and 51.2 meters wide, but this remains the smallest sized Fort for this Nubian String due to the topography available.
When the Fort was built the Egyptians included in their building process Wood and Matting inside the Mudbrick Walls to avoid shrinkage and eventual cracks which would have occurred over time due to the moist environment of the Fort next to the River Nile. The Logs and Mats worked as tension anchors as steel does in today’s modern buildings.
This system was in use from at least Pharaonic Dynasty 3, during Egypt’s Old Kingdom Period, as evidence of this has been found in a mudbrick wall of the Town of Elephantine in Aswan. The Wood was used in Walls thicker than 3.6 meters with Mats being added to Walls thicker than 1.5 meters. The grasses used in the matting are: Halfa grass which was commonly found on the Flood plain of the River Nile and Sedges (Cyperacceae) which is a little less common but grows in marshy or wet areas.
Externally the Fort had access to fresh water from the River Nile in case of a siege from the Eastern Wall which has an exterior staircase.
Internally Archaeologists have discovered organic materials including wheat, barley and watermelon, the Barracks, the Workshops and Storerooms, a Granary, the Administrative Buildings, Chapels, and the Fort’s Command Centre which were all laid along a grid plan. White and Yellow Paint shards have been discovered along with local Nubian Pottery, Nubian Jewellery and Seals for Letters which shows Excavators how the other Nubian Line of Forts and the local community communicated, traded, and worked with the Fortress’ inhabitants.