The eastern Delta site of Tell el-Muqdam was sacred to the lion god Mahes (Mihos), a son of Bastet, as well the deities Shu and Tefnut who were venerated in the form of two lions sitting back to back. The large settlement consists of several mounds, once the ancient town of Taremu which became the regional capital of the 11th Lower Egyptian nome during the Ptolemaic Period. In Greek times the town was known as Leontopolis when the name of its principal deity was Mysis.
The Temple of Mahes is situated in the eastern area of the site but large-scale removal and re-use of blocks has made the remains difficult to date precisely. Surviving stelae and statuary indicate that there was already a temple at Taremu during Dynasty XVIII. Other earlier monuments have been found to have been usurped by later kings and a statue of Dynasty XIV King Nehesy usurped by Merenptah is thought to have originated here. Nehesy, an official during the Hyksos period who assumed royal status for a short period at Avaris, is also named in inscribed fragments found at Tell el-Muqdam, giving his epithets of ‘Beloved of Seth, Lord of Avaris’ and ‘Eldest King’s Son’. Other objects, including several bronze statuettes of lions, are thought to originate from Tell el-Muqdam.
There is evidence that Tell el-Muqdam may have been the power base of some of the kings of the Third Intermediate Period and the site is thought to have incorporated a royal cemetery from that period. However, some Egyptologists have argued that the capital was at Khemenu (Hermopolis Magna) and only one tomb, that of Queen Kama(ma), the mother of Dynasty XXIII King Osorkon III, has so far been located at the site to the west of the main ruins. Osorkon III (Usermaatre Setepenamun) is thought to have inherited the throne of Leontopolis from Shoshenq IV.
Another nearby mound at Mit Ya’ish has also produced objects from the same periods, including a stela of Osorkon III, as well as Ptolemaic artefacts.
How to get there
Tell el-Muqdam is situated about 10km to the south-east of the modern town of Mit Ghamr which is on the eastern bank of the Damietta branch of the Nile.