Archaeologists on Thursday hailed the discovery of “the largest” ancient city found in Egypt, buried under sand for millennia, which experts say was one of the most significant finds since the unearth of the Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass announced the discovery of the “lost golden city”, claiming that the site was discovered near Luxor, where the legendary Valley of the Kings is located.
“The Egyptian mission led by Dr Zahi Hawass has found the city that had been lost under the sands,” the archeology team said in a statement.
“The city is 3000 years old, the date of the reign of Amenhotep III and continued to be used by Tutankhamun and Ay,” the statement added.
He called the find “the greatest” ancient city ever to be found in Egypt.
Betsy Bryan, professor of Egyptian art and archeology at Johns Hopkins University, said the find was the “second most important archaeological find since Tutankhamun’s tomb,” according to the team’s statement.
Jewelry such as rings have been unearthed, along with colorful pottery vessels, scarab amulets, and mud bricks bearing the seals of Amenhotep III.
“Many foreign missions have searched for this city and never found it,” said Hawass, a former minister of antiques.
The team began excavations in September 2020, between the temples of Ramses III and Amenhotep III near Luxor, some 500 kilometers south of the capital Cairo.
“Within weeks, much to the team’s surprise, mud brick formations began to appear in all directions,” the statement read.
“What they uncovered was the site of a large city in good condition, with almost complete walls and rooms filled with tools of everyday life.”
– ‘Tombs full of treasures’ –
After seven months of excavations, several neighborhoods were discovered, including a bakery complete with ovens and storage pottery, as well as administrative and residential quarters.
Amenhotep III inherited an empire that stretched from the Euphrates to Sudan, archaeologists say, and died around 1354 BC.
He ruled for nearly four decades, a reign known for his opulence and the grandeur of his monuments, including the Colossi of Memnon – two massive stone statues near Luxor that represent him and his wife.
“The archaeological layers have remained intact for thousands of years, left by former residents as if it was yesterday,” the team’s statement read.
Bryan said the city “will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the ancient Egyptians during the Empire’s richest days.”
The team said they were optimistic about the revelation of other important finds, noting that they had discovered clusters of tombs reached by “rock-carved stairs,” a construction similar to those found in the Valley. Kings.
“The mission hopes to find intact tombs full of treasure,” the statement added.
After years of political instability linked to a popular revolt in 2011, which dealt a blow to the key Egyptian tourism sector, the country is seeking to bring back visitors, in particular by enhancing its ancient heritage.
Last week, Egypt carried the mummified remains of 18 ancient kings and four queens through Cairo from the iconic Egyptian Museum to the New National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, in a procession dubbed the ‘Golden Parade of the Pharaohs’.
Among the 22 bodies were those of Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye.
bam-hha / pjm / sw