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Famous Egyptian archaeologist reveals details of ancient city

CAIRO (AP) – The best-known Egyptian archaeologist on Saturday revealed more details about a recently discovered Pharaonic city in the southern province of Luxor.

Zahi Hawass said archaeologists found brick houses, artifacts and tools from the Pharaonic era at the site of the 3,000-year-old lost city. It dates back to Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty, whose reign is considered a golden age for ancient Egypt.

“It really is a great city that has been lost … The inscription that was found inside here says that this city was called: ‘The dazzling Aten’,” Hawass told reporters on the site.

Archaeologists began excavating the area last year, looking for the mortuary temple of young King Tutankhamun. However, within weeks they found mud brick formations that ultimately turned out to be a large, well-preserved city.

The city walls and even rooms filled with kilns, storage pottery and utensils used in daily life are said to be present. Archaeologists also found human remains visible to journalists and visitors on Saturday.

“We found three big districts, one for administration, one for workers to sleep, one for industry and (one) area for dried meat,” said Hawass, who spoke to reporters on the site while wearing his iconic Indiana Jones hat.

He said he believed the city was “the most important find” since Tutankhamun’s tomb was unearthed in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor almost completely intact in 1922.

Paola Cartagena, a graduate student in Egyptology at the University of Manchester, said the find was “of great importance”.

“Colonial archeology is extremely valuable for learning real historical facts and expanding our understanding of how the ancient Egyptians lived,” she wrote on Twitter.

The recently discovered city is located between the temple of King Ramses III and the Colossi of Amenhotep III on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. The city continued to be used by the grandson of Amenhotep III Tutankhamun, and then by his successor King Ay.

Some mud bricks bear the seal of King Amenhotep III’s cartouche, or name badge.

Amenhotep III, who ruled ancient Egypt between 1391 BC and 1353 BC, built the main parts of the temples of Luxor and Karnak in the ancient city of Thebes.

Egypt has sought publicity for its archaeological finds in hopes of reviving its tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the unrest following the 2011 uprising, and now the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came days after Egypt moved 22 of its precious royal mummies in a gala parade to their new resting place – the recently opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.

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