The worship of deities has been an essential part of man since antiquity. While other civilizations had their own ways of worshiping, the Greeks in particular were among the most ardent worshipers of deities. Many ancient Greek deities, from Athena to Poseidon, and even Ares had devoted followers who built temples all over Greece. The most revered god; however, was Zeus and while the worship of this Greek god seems to have spread beyond the territory of Greece, it is quite fascinating to learn that it extended to the ancient kingdom of Egypt . This claim has been proven by a recent archaeological discovery in Egypt and is worth exploring.
The cult of Zeus existed in ancient Egypt
On April 25, 2022, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced an interesting archaeological discovery of the remains of an ancient temple at Tel Al-Farma in the northwest of the Sinai Peninsula. According to the findings, the temple was dedicated to Zeus Kasios – a deity who represents the combination of Zeus – the Greek god of the sky, and Kasios – a weather god related to Mount Kasios. The mountain is located between the border between Syria and Turkey and is significant for its role in the mythological battle between Zeus and Typhon. This association of ancient gods with mountains is not a new thing in the ancient world, which is why there are so many sacred mountains in the world that can be visited today.
Although this is a unique find, it is surprising to know that the area is not new to excavations. In fact, there has been speculation that a temple previously existed there until the early 20th century. According to Mostafa Waziri – the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, Jean Cledat – a French Egyptologist had suggested the former existence of an ancient temple in the area after discovering Greek inscriptions there in 1910. This clue left by the French Egyptologist has been talking to researchers for a long time, although no excavations were carried out until recently when a team of archaeologists began excavating northwest Sinai.
Excavations began with the discovery of two blocks of granite that would now form part of the stairway that led to the inner parts of the temple. The blocks are believed to have collapsed after a strong earthquake hit the city. The inscriptions on the blocks discovered during the excavations suggest that the temple was renovated by the Roman emperor Hadrian who reigned from 117 to 138. The emperor was evidently a lover of Greco-Roman culture and religion as he passionately oversaw the reconstruction of many ancient Greeks and Romans. temples such as the Serapeum of Alexandria, the Pantheon and the temples of Venus and Rome.
More blocks were finally uncovered in the recent excavation and they had more inscriptions which the general manager of the excavation says are currently undergoing photogrammetric surveys to learn more about the site and also determine the actual design of the temple.
In Greco-Roman times (a period that lasted from 332 BC to 395 AD), the region of this archaeological find (now known as Tel Al-Farma) was known as Pelusium – a ancient city located on the easternmost bank of the Nile. The city dates from the late Pharaonic period and was an important city during Greco-Roman and Byzantine times as well as the early Christian and Islamic periods. The first major battle between the Achaemenid Empire and Egypt also took place in this city. Its strategic position on the eastern border of Egypt made it an important point of entry and exit from the country. This role was particularly evident during times of war and invasion. The Greco-Roman period also saw the city’s role as a bustling port city. Apparently, the city’s association with Greek and Roman culture as well as its commercial importance must have been the reason it welcomed worshipers of the god Zeus who eventually erected a temple to practice their religion.
The importance and significance of this discovery
Egypt has been a place of interesting discoveries for many years as more interesting things about the ancient world are continually being discovered. However, in recent times, the country has experienced a decline in tourism. Two factors are to blame for this sudden change, but the most serious was the virus as it inevitably led to the closure of the country’s borders. After the reopening of the borders, the need to boost tourism obviously led to these archaeological projects, and this type of discovery is important to arouse the curiosity of travelers from all over the world and thus boost the country’s tourism.
While part of the finds is to help boost tourism in the country, this find mostly sheds light on the worship of ancient Greek gods outside of Greece and how far the religion actually went. While studies and more information on this archaeological discovery are still ongoing, Tel Al-Farma is definitely a destination to keep in mind when visiting Egypt in the future.
Immerse yourself in Egyptian history at the Egyptian Museum
About the Author