Buried Under The Sand For Millennia…
A 3,000-year-old city, named Aten, has recently been discovered in Luxor, Egypt! Archaeologists have claimed that the discovery would reveal a new horizon of Egyptian history. According to Archaeologists, King Amenhotep III, who ruled Egypt from BCE 1391 to BCE 1350, was the one who had founded this city. It is believed that most of the administration and industry were based on the western part of Luxor at that period of time. The discovery of city of Aten is the second most important one in Egypt after the Tomb of King Tutankhamun.
Dr Betsy Bryan, the Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University and a specialist on Amenhotep III’s reign, said that they not only discovered the ancient city of Aten, but also various artefacts in different parts of Egypt over the past few months. She told the local media that attempts were being made to learn more about the ancient way of life in Egypt through those artefacts. There was a bakery located in the southern part of Aten, with a cooking and food preparation area, complete with ovens and storage pottery. “From its size, we can state the kitchen was catering a very large number of workers and employees. The second area, which is still partly uncovered, is the administrative and residential district, with larger and well-arranged units,” added Dr Bryan.
The Egyptologist further said: “This area is fenced in by a zigzag wall, with only one access point leading to internal corridors and residential areas. The single entrance makes us think it was some sort of security, with the ability to control entry and exit to enclosed areas. Zigzag walls are one of the rare architectural elements in ancient Egyptian architecture, mainly used towards the end of the 18th Dynasty.”
According to Dr Bryan, the third area is the workshop. “On one side, the production area for the mud bricks used to build temples and annexes. The bricks have seals bearing the cartouche of King Amenhotep III (Neb Maat Ra). On the other, a large number of casting molds for the production of amulets and delicate decorative elements. This is further evidence of the extensive activity in the city to produce decorations for both temples and tombs. All over the excavated areas, the mission has found many tools used in some sort of industrial activity like spinning and weaving,” she told the press.
The site contains a large number of kilns. It seems that the ancient Egyptians used those kilns to make glass and faience. Dr Bryan stressed: “Just to locate the manufacturing centres opens up the detail of how the Egyptians, under a great and wealthy ruler such as Amenhotep III, did what they did. This will furnish knowledge for many years to come.” Furthermore, the debris of thousands of statues has also been discovered near the site.
Although the Archaeologists have unearthed the metal and glass-making slag, the main area of such activity is yet to be discovered. “Two unusual burials of a cow or bull were found inside one of the rooms. Investigations are underway to determine the nature and purpose of this practice. And even more remarkable burial of a person found with arms outstretched to his side, and remains of a rope wrapped around his knees. The location and position of this skeleton are rather odd, and more investigations are in progress Only further excavations of the area will reveal what truly happened 3500 years ago,” insisted Dr Bryan.
To the north of the settlement a large cemetery was uncovered. However, the extent of the cemetery has yet to be determined. So far, the mission has discovered a group of rock-cut tombs of different sizes that could be reached through stairs carved into the rock, a common feature of tomb construction in the Valley of the Kings and in the Valley of the Nobles. Work is underway and the mission expects to uncover untouched tombs filled with treasures.
For his part, Zahi Hawass, the Egyptian Archaeologist and an erstwhile minister overseeing the excavations, stated that many archaeologists from foreign lands had visited Egypt to discover this city, but failed. He claimed that the well-preserved ancient city had almost complete walls and rooms. Archaeologists have found tools of daily life, rings, scarabs, coloured pottery vessels and mud bricks, bearing seals of Amenhotep III’s cartouche, inside those rooms. “The city’s streets are flanked by houses… some of their walls are up to three metres high,” insisted Hawass. The former minister also claimed that Aten is believed to have been the largest administrative and industrial settlement of its era.
Terming Aten the “lost golden city”, Hawass said that Archaeologists discovered this city in September 2020, while searching for a mortuary temple. The site is located close to a number of important ancient Egyptian monuments, including the Colossi of Memnon, the Madinat Habu Temple and the Ramesseum. Amenhotep III, the ninth King of the 18th Dynasty, ruled during the second half of the New Kingdom period. He sponsored the construction of a number of huge temples and public buildings before sharing power with his eldest son, the soon-to-be Amenhotep IV, toward the end of his reign.
Meanwhile, Salima Ikram, an Archaeologist at the American University in Cairo, said: “There’s no doubt about it; it really is a phenomenal find. It’s very much a snapshot in time, an Egyptian version of Pompeii.” Interestingly, the discovery of the lost city happened at a time when Egypt is seeking to promote tourism, following a period of decline due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and political unrest.
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