By Rany Mostafa
CAIRO: Ruins of the 5,200 year-old enclosure wall, once surrounded Egypt’s most ancient capital city of Memphis, has been unearthed, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in a statement Saturday.
“Several white limestone fragments of the ancient capital’s wall were discovered during excavation work carried out by an archaeology team of the Russian Institute of Egyptology at Kom Tuman, south of Giza Pyramids,” said Damaty.
Memphis was founded from the end of the fourth millennium B.C. by the first Dynasty Pharaoh Menes, who was the first to unify Upper and Lower Egypt kingdoms into a unified state in ancient Egypt history, Director of the Russian archaeological team Galina A. Belova was quoted by the Antiquities Ministry Friday.
“A number of pottery making ovens and bronze tools were also found. The excavations will continue and we will be working to unearth the rest of the wall, as well as any archaeological elements which could help us to know more about this early period of Egyptian history,” said Belova.
Occupying a strategic position at the mouth of the Nile Delta, Memphis was the capital of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom (2,680B.C.-2125B.C.) It once comprised the royal palaces of the Pharaohs alongside the state administrative buildings, Kamal Wahid, director of the central administration of Giza antiquities told The Cairo Post Saturday.
“Unlike royal tombs, pyramids, mortuary and cult-related temples and any other buildings related to the afterlife, ancient Egyptian royal palaces, administrative offices, houses and other life-related buildings were often made of mud brick,” said Wahid, pointing out that the ancient Egyptian belief in life after death made the Egyptians keen to build durable tombs and pyramids.
Memphis is now an open air museum that houses artifacts spanning several periods of the ancient Egyptian civilization; a painted limestone colossus of Ramses II along with the alabaster Sphinx are the most preserved pieces in that museum.
In the 1950s, the Egyptian government decided to transfer a pink granite colossus of Ramses II to Cairo. It was placed before the Cairo’s main train station named after the Pharaoh. However, in 2005, the statue was transferred to the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), nearby Giza Pyramids, scheduled to open in 2018.
The move has been criticized for its costs and concerns about pollution in the Giza location.