Temple architecture

The ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Zeus discovered in Egypt

By Samy Magdy | Associated press

CAIRO — Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed the ruins of a temple dedicated to the ancient Greek god Zeus in the Sinai Peninsula, antiquities authorities said Monday.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a statement that the ruins of the temple were discovered at the archaeological site of Tell el-Farma in northwest Sinai.

Tell el-Farma, also known by its ancient name Pelusium, dates back to the late Pharaonic period and was also used in Greco-Roman and Byzantine times. There are also vestiges dating from the Christian period and the beginning of Islam.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said archaeologists excavated the ruins of the temple through its front door, where two huge fallen granite columns were visible. The gate was destroyed in a powerful earthquake in ancient times, he said.

Waziri said the ruins were found between the Pelusium fort and a memorial church at the site. Archaeologists have found a set of granite blocks that were probably used to build a staircase allowing worshipers to access the temple.

Excavations in the area date back to the early 1900s when French Egyptologist Jean Clédat found ancient Greek inscriptions that showed the existence of the Temple of Zeus-Kasios but he did not unearth it, according to the ministry.

Zeus-Kasios is an amalgamation of Zeus, the sky god in ancient Greek mythology, and Mount Kasios in Syria, where Zeus once worshipped.

Hisham Hussein, the director of Sinai Archaeological Sites, said inscriptions found in the area show that Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138) renovated the temple.

He said experts would study the discovered blocks and carry out a photogrammetry study to help determine the architectural design of the temple.

The temple ruins are the latest in a series of ancient discoveries that Egypt has touted over the past two years in hopes of attracting more tourists.

The tourism industry has been rocked by political unrest following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The sector has also been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and more recently by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.