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Mirgissa Fort

Nubian Forts - Forts - The Military

Erected and originally known as Iken, the Fort at Mirgissa was one of the largest Forts built by Pharaoh Senusret III during Egypt’s 12th Dynasty in the Middle Kingdom Period.

It was strategically placed to control all the River Traffic from the North and especially those from the South, collecting revenues and taxes from all traders.

The geographical location was chosen based on a flat Plain which would allow boats to be hauled away from the Rapids and the Rocks in the Nile River, to settle in the natural harbour next to the Fort allowing safe mooring before heading north on the Nile.

The location was recognised to be an important one before the Egyptians under Pharaoh Senusret III arrived here as the site has been found to have been inhabited since Neolithic times. This Open City was a kilometre to the north of the later Fortress and measured 75,000 squared meters large all of which was protected by a Stone Wall of 1 meter thick.

Fort Mirgissa is placed in the Western Wadi and was erected as the landscape allowed, growing to the size of 40,000 squared meters. Made of 10-meter-high mudbrick walls which were doubled to form a 6-meter thick Outer and 6-meter-thick Inner protective skin to the Fort, it had 12-meter-high squared corner Towers and Bastions for further protection. Egyptologists have found the remains and impressions of 400 Lances and Javelins all of which had Flint Heads and had been brought down from the main part of Egypt rather than produced locally.

Goddess Hathor is known to have been the protector of the Fort from some of the remains found in a small Temple which was dedicated to her on site. Her Fort was physically protected by 2 gateways which had their own Wooden Doors and a Portcullis.

The Boat Slipway was over 2 kilometres in length between the River Nile below the rapids and the Port of Fort Mirgissa. The Slipway was erected of wooden beams which were permanently set into the silt at evenly spread intervals but remained low enough to benefit from the wetness of the silt to allow the Boats to navigate the Slipway more easily than if this had remained dry and had caused additional friction.

Fort Mirgissa could really be referred to as a Frontier Post and Trade Centre as well as being a Military holding point because of its strategic position. Now, due to the building of the Aswan High Dam the remains of this Fort are mainly underwater.


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