A city 48 km
SW of Alexandria (Strab. 17.1.14
), second only in the
Mareotic nome to the capital Marea in importance and
wealth (Herod. 2.18.30). On the basis of the still extant
enclosure of what seems to have been the Temple of
Osiris mentioned in the Stadiasmus
and of a Greek inscription referring to the priests of Taposiris, the locality
has been identified with the present archaeological site on
the Mediterranean Littoral of the Libyan Desert known as Abû [Sdot ]ir.
The city owed its prosperity to the fact that it was a
transit port with two harbors, one controlling the waterways through the lake into the Canopic branch of the
Nile, the other on the Plinthinete Gulf of the Mediterranean. The Canopic branch dried up in the 8th c., the lake disappeared at some time during the Middle Ages. As a result, not only Taposiris but the whole district
Approaching the site from the E one would stop at
Plinthine (Strab. 17.1.14
), identified with the large town
site “extending over 3.2 km along the Abû-[Sdot ]ir ridge,”
with a foundation plan of one of its houses, a stadium,
and its necropolis of 40 tomb chambers hewn from rock.
Farther N, there is a restored Roman lighthouse supposed to be a miniature of the Pharos of Alexandria. This marks the site of the necropolis of Taposiris Magna.
At a distance one would be impressed by the two
pylons on the E side of the Temple of Osiris. The void
inside the enclosure, measuring 86 m square, contained
at a later time a monastery and a church. Surrounding
the temple is a vast complex of ruined buildings: houses,
baths and a necropolis for animals. Down the S side of
the hill are the ruins of the dyke that marked the W
entrance to the lake.