Seventy-five miles south of Cairo, hidden by shifting sands on the edge of the desert, are the remains of the ancient oasis town of Tebtunis. Archaeologists and diggers clamber over the site, a collection of impressive ruins that sprawl across nearly 100 acres and more than 3,000 years. At dusk, the exposed walls and oblique light call to mind a giant desert labyrinth. At the south end of the site are the low ruins of a Greek settlement, including a massive temple to the crocodile god Sobek. To the north, later Byzantine and Islamic ruins once stood higher--10 to 12 feet in the 1930s--before unknown assailants knocked them down. But the true value of this old town is not in its remaining walls; it is in little flecks of paper that document three millennia of life here and across this region of Egypt.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Letters to the Crocodile God