Likened to the discovery of the Roman city of Pompeii, in terms of its potential importance to archeologists and historians.
Egypt is back in the news, and this time it is not related to a ship blocking its famous canal, but to a discovery of an ancient city that may reveal much about the ancient peoples.
Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of an ancient city in the desert outside Luxor that they say is the “largest” ever found in Egypt and dates back to a golden age of the pharaohs 3,000 years ago.
Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass announced the discovery of the “lost golden city”, saying the site was uncovered near Luxor, home of the legendary Valley of the Kings.
“The Egyptian mission under Dr. Zahi Hawass found the city that was lost under the sands,” the excavation team said in a statement Thursday. “The city is 3,000 years old, dates to the reign of Amenhotep III, and continued to be used by Tutankhamun and Ay.”
The find has been likened to the discovery of the intact Roman city of Pompeii, and Egyptologists hope the new discovery provides the same window on the ancient culture as the Roman city has provided historians and archeologists since it was uncovered from the ash layers of Vesuvius.
“The excavation started in September 2020 and within weeks, to the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions,” Egypt’s antiquities ministry said in a statement.
“What they unearthed was the site of a large city in a good condition of preservation, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools of daily life.”
The southern part of the city includes a bakery, ovens and storage pottery while the northern part, most of which remain under the sands, comprises administrative and residential districts, the ministry added.
“It was the largest administrative and industrial settlement in the era of the Egyptian empire on the western bank of Luxor,” Hawass said.
"It’s very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii," says one archaeologist about the 3,400-year-old royal city https://t.co/G69zoh70fD
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) April 8, 2021
To put the timeline in perspective, Pharaoh Amenhotep III ruled ancient Egypt about mid-way through the famous 18th dynasty, after a number of successful rulers expanded the empire and trade. His son, Akhenaten, was the spouse of the iconic beauty Nefertiti and is referred to as the “Heretic” for abandoning traditional worship for the solar deity Aten. Tutankhamen, thought now to be Akhenaten’s son.
For those of you who may be familiar with the area, the excavations lie on the West Bank of Luxor near the Colossi of Memnon, Medinet Habu and the Ramesseum (the mortuary temple of King Ramses II). And while gold and precious jewels have not been located, there is a wealth of knowledge that might be obtained about how the Egyptians created the magnificent art that is admired today.
The site contains a large number of ovens and kilns for making glass and faience, along with the debris of thousands of statues, said Betsy Bryan, a specialist of Amenhotep III’s reign.
“Just to locate the manufacturing centres opens up the detail of how the Egyptians under a great and wealthy ruler such as Amenhotep III did what they did. This will furnish knowledge for many years to come,” she added.
On a personal note: I may be able to see this discovery up close and personal. My husband is planning a multi-week trip to Egypt next year, in honor of a milestone birthday for both of us.DONATE
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