The Ancient City of Pelusium


Currency in Al Arish


The Ancient City of Pelusium

Pelusium is an ancient city lay between the seaboard and the marshes of the Nile delta, about two and a half miles from the sea. The port was choked by sand as early as the first century BC, and the coastline has now advanced far beyond its ancient limits, so that the city, even in the third century AD, was at least four miles from the Mediterranean.

The Egyptians likely called it Saʾinu and also Per-Amon (House of Amon), whence perhaps the site’s modern name, Tell Farama. In the Bible, the city is called (Ezekiel 30:15) “the stronghold of Egypt” (the name is given in the King James Version as Sin, transliterated from the Hebrew).

In the 26th and later Egyptian dynasties, Pelusium was the main frontier fortress against Palestine and was a customs post for Asiatic goods. In 525 BC the Persians, under Cambyses II, defeated the Saite pharaoh Psamtik III there {Battle of Pelusium}. The battle was preceded and followed by sieges at Gaza and Memphis.

During the periods of Egyptian independence from Persia (28th–29th dynasty), it was a vital defensive centre. In Roman times it was a station on the route to the Red Sea. Ruins date from the Roman period. The City of Pelusium only witnessed its decline during the 7th century A.D.

The principal product of the neighbouring lands was flax, and the Linum Pelusiacum was both abundant and of a very fine quality. Pelusium was also known for being an early producer of beer, known as the Pelusian drink.

Pelusium stood as a border-fortress, a place of great strength, on the frontier, protecting Egypt as regards to Syria and the sea. Thus, from its position, it was directly exposed to attack by any invaders of Egypt; it was often besieged, and several important battles were fought around its walls.