Buhen Fortress

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Buhen fortress was most probably constructed during the rule of Senusret III in around 1860 BCE (12th Dynasty). Senusret III conducted four campaigns into Kush and established a line of forts within signalling distance of one another; Buhen was the northernmost of these.

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The Kushites captured Buhen during the 13th Dynasty, and held it until Ahmose I recaptured it at the beginning of the 18th Dynasty. It was stormed and recaptured by indigenous forces at the end of Egypt's 20th Dynasty. The other forts built along the banks were Mirgissa, Shalfak, Uronarti, Askut, Dabenarti, Semna, and Kumma. The fortress at Buhen is now submerged under Lake Nasser as a result of the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1964. Before the site was covered with water, it was excavated by a team led by Walter Bryan Emery.


circa 1300 BCE

fortress itself extended more than 150 metres (490 ft) along the west bank of the Nile. It covered 13,000 square metres (140,000 sq ft), and had within its wall a small town laid out in a grid system. At its peak it probably had a population of around 3,500 people. The fortress also included the administration for the whole fortified region of the Second Cataract. Its fortifications included a moat three metres deep, drawbridges, bastions, buttresses, ramparts, battlements, loopholes, and a catapult. The walls of the fort were about 5 metres (16 ft) thick and 10 metres (33 ft) high.

circa 1000 BCE

Horus Temple of Hatshepsut
The fortress of Buhen housed about 1,000 soldiers, 300 archers and their families. Queen Hatshepsut ordered a Horus temple to be built inside the Buhen fortress for worship and prayer, and also for traders to take a break while transporting their goods. Interestingly, during that time, Egypt imported and exported many products, such as oils, ivory, pottery, and tiger and elephant skins.


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