I took these photos at the Egyptian archaeological site of Tanis shortly before the January 2011 revolution. Tanis is best known for its association with 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', though none of the film was actually shot there. Tanis was also mentioned in a two-page feature in the February 2013 issue of National Geographic, in which the site was referred to rather unflatteringly as a "muddy mound". These images are intended as a visual response to both 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and the National Geographic feature, and show that there is a bit more to Tanis than Indiana Jones and a "muddy mound".
While much of Tanis is indeed covered in mud, the obelisks and sculpture fragments that appear here are a fascinating mixture of colossal pieces brought to Tanis from other Egyptian sites around 3000 years ago. These pieces were apparently moved to Tanis in order to lend legitimacy to the relatively weak pharaohs of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, many of whom were of Libyan origin but wanted to link themselves to the more powerful pharaohs of the New Kingdom. Most of the obelisks at Tanis bear the name of the famous New Kingdom pharaoh Ramesses II, and a statue of Ramesses II appears in the second photograph; these pieces were probably brought from Ramesses II's nearby capital, Pi-Ramesses, which proved to be a bit like IKEA when the later pharaohs decided to do some redecorating at Tanis.