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Monday, May 17, 2021

Explained: Why discovery of a 3,000-year-old ‘lost golden city’ in Egypt matters

According to noted archaeologist Zahi Hawass, the city was once the largest administrative and industrial settlement of the pharaonic empire and many foreign missions who were looking for the settlement had not been able to find it.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 15, 2021 9:19:23 am
EgyptThe city is 3,000 years old and dates to the reign of Amenhotep III. (AP photo)

Egypt on Thursday announced the discovery of what is being touted as the most important find since the unearthing of King Tutankhamun’s tomb almost 100 years ago. A three-millennia-old “lost golden city” from the era of 18th-dynasty king Amenhotep III, who ruled ancient Egypt from 1391 to 1353 B.C., was found in the southern province of Luxor, near some of the country’s best-known monuments. With mud-brick houses, artefacts, and tools discovered from the reign of the Pharaohs, some are even calling the find an “ancient Egyptian Pompeii”. What is the significance of this discovery? We explain.

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What have archaeologists in Egypt discovered?

The newly discovered city is located on the west bank of the Nile river, close to the Colossi of Memnon, Medinet Habu and the Ramesseum, or mortuary temple of King Ramses II, all of which are popular tourist destinations.

Last year in September, archaeologists had been excavating in this area to look for a mortuary temple of King Tutankhamun, who is among the best-known figures from ancient Egypt. The legend of Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered almost intact in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 by British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon, is famous on account of the vast treasure discovered at the location.

Although their search was originally devoted to the famous ancient king, the archaeologists ended up discovering mud-brick formations “in all directions”, which eventually turned out to be a well-preserved city, an Associated Press report stated.

Why is the find significant?

While unearthing the city, archaeologists are said to have found city walls and even rooms filled with utensils used in daily life. They have found clay caps of wine vessels, rings, scarabs, coloured pottery, and spinning and weaving tools, the AP report said.

Some mud bricks discovered here bear the seal of Tutankhamun’s granfather King Amenhotep III, who is considered to be one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs. The city is also believed to have been used by Tutankhamun and his successor Ay during a period widely believed to be the golden era of ancient Egypt.

According to a Reuters report, the site contains a large number of ovens and kilns for making glass and faience, along with the debris of thousands of statues. As per Egypt’s antiquities ministry, a bakery, ovens and storage pottery were found in the southern part of the city, while the northern part — which is yet to be fully unearthed — includes administrative and residential districts.

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According to noted archaeologist Zahi Hawass, the city was once the largest administrative and industrial settlement of the pharaonic empire and many foreign missions who were looking for the settlement had not been able to find it.

A press release on the discovery stated, “The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday.”

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