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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 declined.

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.


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