The underground city of Avaris. From Guardian.co.com
From Guardian.co.uk. June 21, 2010. (Associated Press in Cairo)
An Austrian archaeological team has used radar imaging to determine the extent of the ruins of the 3,500-year-old one-time capital of Egypt's foreign occupiers, according to the country's antiquities department.
Egypt was ruled for a century from 1664-1569 BC by the Hyksos, a group of warriors from Asia – possibly Semitic in origin – whose summer capital, Avaris, was in the northern Delta area.
Irene Müller, the head of the Austrian team, said the main purpose of the project was to determine how far the underground city extends. The radar imaging showed the outlines of streets, houses and temples underneath the green farm fields and modern town of Tel al-Dabaa.
Dr Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the computer-generated images of the city, which is still buried under the ground, show a very detailed layout of ancient Avaris. Several architectural features including houses, temples, streets, cemeteries and palaces can be seen.
The team has also been able to make out the arrangement of neighbourhoods and living quarters.
"Using such a special scientific survey to locate such a city is the only way to gain a better understanding of such a large area at one time," Hawass said.
The team has succeeded in identifying a collection of houses and a possible harbour area. A series of pits of different sizes are also visible but their function has not yet been determined.
The Austrian team of archaeologists have been working on the site since 1975. Egypt's Nile Delta is densely populated and heavily farmed, making extensive excavation difficult, unlike in southern Egypt with its more famous desert tombs and temples.http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/21/radar-imaging-egyptian-underground-city