In September 2020, an Egyptian mission began excavations between the temples of pharaohs Ramses III and Amenhotep III near Luxor, 500km (300 miles) south of the capital, Cairo. Within weeks, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions, to the surprise of the team. What members of the team subsequently discovered 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 team called the find the largest ancient city, known as Aten, ever uncovered in Egypt. The city, which is 3,000 years old, is believed to be one of the most important archaeological finds since Tutankhamun’s tomb. The “lost golden city” had been buried under sand for millennia. Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it, experts said.
The city, according to the Egyptian mission under famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, dates to the reign of Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III, who ruled from 1391 to 1353 BC. The city continued to be used by pharaohs Ay and Tutankhamun, said the team. “The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun,” Betsy Brian, professor of Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US, said, adding that the city would “will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the Ancient Egyptians at the time where the empire was at his wealthiest”.
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Among some of the items unearthed were colored pottery vessels, scarab beetle amulets and mud bricks bearing the seals of Amenhotep III as well as jewelry such as rings. In seven months after the dig started, several neighborhoods have been uncovered, including a bakery with ovens and storage pottery as well as residential and administrative districts. “The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday,” the team said.
Archaeological work is still ongoing at the site with the team hoping to find “untouched tombs filled with treasures.”
In February, a team of local and American archaeologists discovered what it believes to be the site of the world’s oldest beer production in the ancient Egyptian city of Abydos. The site, which is believed to be over 5,000 years old and is situated on a funerary ground, is likely to have existed during the reign of King Narmer. Narmer was the founder of the First Dynasty and he is known to have been behind the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Egypt has in recent times initiated moves to boost the country’s tourism and provide the foreign currency needed to revive the economy. Last week, the streets in Cairo were lit and were filled with excited crowds between the old Egyptian Museum and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization as 22 mummies conserved through the centuries were taken from the former museum to the latter.
The Saturday night event, which Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called an “unrivaled event”, was a procession that was watched across the world. Mummies from the dynasties of old and the famous Egyptian civilization were chauffeured in vehicles flamboyantly designed according to ancient Egyptian chariots.
Ancient Egypt has often been the main reference point when interpreting the past and experience of Africa. Egyptian civilization has been identified as the cradle of all human civilization celebrated for its languages, governance structure and a long history of wealth, education and powerful Pharaohs. All these have helped boost the country’s tourism sector, which was hit hard recently by the pandemic.