The worship of deities has been an essential part of humans since ancient times. While other civilizations had their unique ways of worship, the Greeks particularly were some of the most fervent worshippers of deities. Many deities in Ancient Greece from Athena to Poseidon, and even Ares had dedicated worshippers who built temples all over Greece. The most popularly worshipped god; however, was Zeus and while the worship of this Greek god seems to have extended farther than 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 it is worth exploring.

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The Worship 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 in Tel Al-Farma, Northwestern Sinai Peninsula. According to the findings, the temple was dedicated to Zeus Kasios - a deity that represents the combination of Zeus - the Greek god of the sky, and Kasios - a weather god connected 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 around the world one can visit today.

While this is a unique discovery, it is surprising to know the area is not new to excavations. In fact, there has been speculation about the previous existence of a temple at this location as far as 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 previous existence of an ancient temple in the area after he discovered some Greek inscriptions there in 1910. That clue left by the French Egyptologist has sat with researchers for a long time although no excavations were made until recently when a team of Archaeologists began excavating Northwestern Sinai.

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The excavations began with the discovery of two granite blocks which are now believed to be part of the staircase that led to the inner parts of the temple. The blocks were believed to have collapsed after a strong earthquake hit the city. Inscriptions on the blocks discovered during the excavations suggest that the temple was renovated by Roman Emperor Hadrian who ruled from 117 to 138. The emperor was obviously a lover of Greco-Roman culture and religion as he passionately oversaw the rebuilding of many ancient Greek and Roman temples such as the Serapeum of Alexandria, the Pantheon, and the Temples of Venus and Roma.

More blocks were eventually uncovered during the recent excavation and they had more inscriptions which, according to the director-general of the excavation, are currently undergoing photogrammetry surveys to find out more about the site and also determine the temple’s actual design.

In Greco-Roman times, (a period that lasted from 332 BC to 395 AD) the region of this archaeological discovery (now known as Tel Al-Farma) was known as Pelusium - an ancient city located on the easternmost bank of the Nile River. The city dates to the late Pharaonic period and was an important city during the Greco-Roman and Byzantine times as well as the early Christian and early Islamic periods. The first major battle between the Achaemenid Empire and Egypt was also fought in this city. Its strategic position on Egypt’s eastern boundary made it an important point of entry and exit from the country. This role was particularly evident during the periods 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 hosted worshippers of the god Zeus who eventually erected a temple to practice their religion.

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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 continuously being discovered. However, in recent times, the country has seen a drop in tourism. A couple of factors are to blame for this sudden change but the most severe was the Virus as it inevitably led to the shutting of the country's borders. After reopening the borders, the need to boost tourism obviously led to these archaeological projects, and these sorts of discoveries are important to raise the curiosity of travelers around the world thereby boosting the country's tourism.

While part of the discoveries is to help boost tourism in the country, this discovery most importantly sheds more light on the worship of Ancient Greek gods outside Greece and how far the religion actually went. While studies and more information about this archaeological finding are still ongoing, Tel Al-Farma is definitely a destination to keep in mind when visiting Egypt in the future.