Thursday, March 5, 2015

News this week

By Rany Mostafa

Tomb of ‘gatekeeper of God Amun’ unearthed in Luxor

A 3,500-year-old tomb of “the gatekeeper of God Amun” has been unearthed in the west bank of Luxor, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty announced Tuesday.

The tomb was accidentally discovered during cleaning and restoration work carried out by the archaeology mission of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) in a nearby tomb in the archaeological site of Sheikh Abd el Qurna on the west bank of Luxor, according to Damaty.

“The gatekeeper of Amun, one of several titles that were found carved at the tomb’s door lintel, is strongly believed to be a job description of an 18th Dynasty (1580 B.C.- 1292 B.C.) high official. Amenhotep is the real name of the tomb owner that was found carved at the walls of the tomb,” he added.

According to Damaty, the tomb measures 5 meters long by 1.5 meters wide and takes a T-shape. A small side chamber of 4 square meters with a burial shaft in the middle is to be found inside the tomb.

Sultan Eid, Director of Upper Egypt Antiquities Department told The Cairo Post Tuesday that some parts of the tombs are well preserved with “dazzling scenes showing Amenhotep, along with his wife, depicted standing making an offering before several ancient Egyptian deities.”

The tomb also includes daily life scenes depicting Amenhotep hunting and farming, according to Eid.

“Figures of the solar god Amun inside the tomb were intentionally erased and demolished by the followers of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten (1353B.C–1336B.C), who was the first recorded monotheist on earth,” said Eid.

Two years after ascending the throne of Egypt, Akhenaten and his followers discarded worship of all the ancient Egyptian deities especially Amun in favor of the solar god Aten. They also demolished all figures of Amun from temples across the country, according to Eid.

Amenhotep, literally means “Amun is pacified,” thus the names of the tomb owner were also deliberately erased by Akhenaten’s followers, he added.

3,400 year-old pharaonic ‘rest house’ unearthed nearby Suez Canal

A 3,400 year-old “royal rest house” was unearthed during excavation work carried out at the ancient fortified city of Tell Habua near the Suez Canal, according to an official statement on the Antiquities Ministry’s Facebook page Tuesday.

Located nearby the construction site of Egypt’s New Suez Canal Project, “the newly discovered rest house, a 1,200 square meters mud brick edifice, belonged to the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Tuthmosis II (1499B.C.-1513B.C.),” said Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty.

It is one of now three rest houses discovered in the area; the other two belonged to the 19th Dynasty Pharaohs Seti I (1290B.C.-1279B.C.) and Ramses II (1279B.C.-1213,) according to Damaty.

In January, Damaty also announced the discovery of the ruins and foundations of “the Wall of the Prince”; Egypt’s largest known fortress at Tell Habua. The fortress was part of a defensive line, known as the Horus Military Route, in the form of a series of fortresses and military cities. Detailed scenes of the route and the fortification line are still seen nowadays at the walls of Karnak Temple.

The scenes illustrate 11 military fortresses along the route, of which only 5 have been discovered so far in Sinai. The newly discovered rest house sheds more light on Egypt’s military history and the Pharaohs who led the Egyptian army conquest during the New Kingdom Period (1580B.C.-1080B.C.), archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Wednesday.

“During his 14-year reign, Tuthmosis II has successfully conquered the Levant, was able to defeat a group of nomadic Bedouins and secured Egypt’s military presence in the Fertile Crescent area. It seems the that the newly discovered rest house was built to accommodate the Pharaoh and his generals during their ride through the 350 kilometer-long Horus Route,” said Sabban.

This is the first, but “hopefully not the last,” building of its kind to be discovered along Horus military route, Sabban added.

Illegal excavation, theft attempt of a 3,300 statue thwarted in Sohag’s Akhmim

An attempt to trade a lower part of a 3,300-year-old statue representing a seated woman was foiled in Akhmim, northwest of Upper Egypt’s governorate of Sohag, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty announced Thursday.

“Personnel of the Tourism and Antiquities Police stumbled upon the half statue buried in the west of Akhmim town. Preliminary investigations indicate it had been illegally excavated during the digging and laying of a concrete foundation of a residential building in the town’s eastern side,” said Damaty.

According to ancient Egyptian history, Akhmim was capital city of the ninth province of Upper Egypt that includes several ancient Egyptian, Islamic and Coptic archaeological sites.

The finding was seized Wednesday and a committee of archaeologists and conservators, formed by the ministry, has confirmed its authenticity, said Damaty, adding that the construction work in the residential building site has been suspended and that the site is being surveyed in anticipation of other artifacts that could be buried underneath.

General Director of Sohag archaeological site, Gamal Abdel Nasser said that the lower part of the statue measures 1.4 meters high and 0.56 meters wide.

“The statue most likely dates back to the reign of the 19th Dynasty pharaoh Ramses II (1303B.C-1227B.C), whose cartouche [oval carving that bears only royal names] and royal titles were found carved at the base of the half statue,” said Abdel Nasser, adding that police are searching for those who excavated the site in order to press charges against them.

Illegal archaeological digging and trade in Egyptian antiquities, particularly in locations such as Luxor, Aswan and Cairo, have flourished due to the security lapse that followed the January 25 Revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Former Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim stated in August that since the outbreak of the 2011 revolution, over 2,000 artifacts were stolen from several museums and archaeological sites across the country.


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