Ancient stables of Ramses II found
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Cairo - A German-Egyptian archaeological team has discovered an immense stone building that once served as the stables of pharaoh Ramses II, Egypt's antiquities council announced on Thursday.
The stables, which could shelter up to 400 horses, cover around two hectares and are sub-divided into several rectangular areas, each with its own gate, antiquities chief Gaballah Ali Gaballah said.
He said inscriptions and drawings had allowed researchers to determine the uses of different parts of the site at the pharaoh's ancient capital of Pi-Ramses, not far from present-day Sharqiya in northern Egypt.
Bronze pieces used on battle chariots as well as stones used for attaching the horses were also found, he said.
Antiquities official Mohamed Al-Saghir said the team, which is led by German Edgar Pusch and has been working at the site for 12 years, made the discovery during last year's excavations.
It was not announced until the agency had received a report confirming the site's authenticity, Saghir said.
"The team's task is particularly difficult because the site covers some 30 square kilometres of fields," he said, adding that Pi-Ramses served as a dynastic capital for around two-and-a-half centuries.
It was built "as a strategic emplacement along a first line of defence between Egypt and Palestine to protect the eastern border from invasion, particularly by the Hittites", he said.
Ramses II ruled for nearly three-quarters of a century from 1301-1235 BC. - Sapa-AFP