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Elephantine Island

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Elephantine Island is the site of ancient Abu (meaning both elephant and ivory in ancient Egyptian), both names a reminder of the island's once important ivory trade. At the beginning of the 1st dynasty (about 3,000 BC) a fortress was built on the island to establish Egypt's southern frontier. Abu soon became an important customs point and trading center. It remained strategically significant throughout the Pharaonic period as a departure point for the military and commercial expeditions into Nubia and the south. During the 6th dynasty (2345-2181 BC) Abu grew strong as a political and economic center and, despite periodic ups and downs, the island retained its importance until the Greco-Roman period.

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