Tura was known to the ancient Egyptians as Troyu or Royu. This name was misinterpreted by Strabo to mean that it was inhabited by Trojans, thus the Hellenistic city was named Troia. This site was located at , and its site is occupied by the modern town of Tura, Cairo Governorate.
Ancient mining town
The limestone from Tura was the finest and whitest of all the Egyptian quarries, so it was used for facing stones for the richest tombs, as well as for the floors and ceilings of mastabas which were otherwise made of mudbrick. It was used during the Old Kingdom and was the source of the limestone used for the "Rhomboidal Pyramid" or Bent Pyramid of Snefru, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the sarcophagi of many old kingdom nobles, the pyramids of the Middle Kingdom, and certain temples of the New Kingdom built by at least Ahmose I, who may have used Tura limestone to begin the temple of Ptah at Memphis and the Southern Harem of Amun at Thebes.
The Tura limestone was deep underground and instead of open-pit mining, the miners tunneled deep underground to cut large stones out, leaving some limestone behind to support the caverns left behind. The caves were adapted by British forces during World War II to store ammunition, aircraft bombs, and other explosives. These tunnels were surveyed in 1941, and in quarry 35, workmen found many loose quires from books by Origen and Didymus the Blind, two Alexandrian Church Fathers. The workers who found them stole them, and although some were seized by the authorities, most are still missing, and turn up on the antiquities market from time to time. It is believed that some of the original books could have been up to 480 pages.
Notorious Tora Prison
The modern settlement also has a prison (Istiqbal Tura), best known under the name Tora prison, notable for its maximum-security facility Liman Tura. This, namely the "Scorpion" block, has over the years held some of Egypt's most high-profile prisoners. Some cells for long-term inmates are apparently laid out like normal (if cramped) apartments with a kitchenette etc.
On the other hand, there have been allegations that the prison was used for torture and Mukhabarat (Egyptian intelligence services) complicity with CIA extraordinary rendition practices under the Mubarak regime. It may in fact have operated in this capacity since 1995/96 (being the most accessible of the few liman), making it one of the first of the infamous "black sites".
Notable inmates of Tura Prison include:
- Shukri Mustafa (1965−1967)
- Muhammad Abdelrahim al-Sharqawi (3 years in late 1980s)
- Ahmad Ibrahim al-Sayyid al-Naggar (1999/2000 previous to his execution elsewhere)
- Muhammad al-Zawahiri (1999−?2011, tortured and beaten)
- Ashraf Shahin (early 2000s, reportedly tortured)
- Ihab Saqr (2002−2006 Istiqbal Tura, 2006−2008 Liman Tura, 2008-? Istiqbal Tura)
- Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr (2003−?2007, reportedly tortured by electric shocks, beating and rape; see Abu Omar case)
- Alleged Christian convert Bahaa Al-Accad (2005−2006, never charged with any crime, presumably Istiqbal Tura)
- Blogger Alaa Seif al-Islam and dozens of other civil-rights activists (2006, presumably Istiqbal Tura)
- Alaa Mubarak and Gamal Mubarak (2011)
- Adel al-Gazzar (2011−?)
- Hosni Mubarak (2012, sentenced for life, but released in 2013 after a court found that there were no legal grounds for his continued detention)
- Tarek Loubani and John Greyson, two Canadian citizens arrested in the 2013 Egyptian protests. (Aug. 16 2013, they remain imprisoned here without charges)
- Ahmad Salama Mabruk (1999 − early 2000s?)
- Essam Marzouk (1999−?, reportedly tortured)
- Abu Ayyub al-Masri (1999−?, based on claim of Mamdouh Ismail and conflicts other reports)
- Mamdouh Habib (2001/02, reportedly tortured by electric shocks, hanging)
- Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery (2002−2004, reportedly tortured and beaten)
- Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (2002−?2006, reportedly tortured by confinement in a tiny space and beatings)
- Grimal, Nicholas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p. 111. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988
- Grimal, Nicholas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p. 27. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988
- Quarries of Masara and Tura Accessed July 28, 2006
- Talbert, Richard. Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. p. 74. (ISBN 0-691-03169-X)
- Tura Accessed 2009-06-16
- Helwan Accessed July 28
- Grimal, Nicholas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p. 109. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988
- Great Pyramid Accessed July 28, 2006
- Grimal, Nicholas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p. 129. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988
- Grimal, Nicholas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p. 177. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988
- Grimal, Nicholas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p. 200. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988
- Playfair, Vol. I, page 65.
- The Tury Discovery of Manuscripts Accessed July 28, 2006
- The Rebellion Within, An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism. by Lawrence Wright. newyorker.com, June 2, 2008
- Mayer, Jane. The New Yorker, 14 February 2005. "Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America's 'extraordinary rendition' program.". Retrieved 20 February 2007.
- Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C.; with Flynn, Captain F.C. (R.N.) & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2009) [1st. pub. HMSO:1954]. Butler, Sir James, ed. The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume I: The Early Successes Against Italy, to May 1941. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-065-3.