Archeologists have uncovered the remains of an ancient city in the desert outside Luxor that they say is the “largest” ever found in Egypt and dates back to a golden age of the pharaohs 3,000 years ago.
Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass announced the discovery of the “lost golden city,” saying that the site was uncovered near Luxor, home of the legendary Valley of the Kings.
“The Egyptian mission under Dr Zahi Hawass found the city that was lost under the sands,” the excavation team said in a statement on Thursday.
Photo: AFP / Ho / Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities
“The city is 3,000 years old, dates to the reign of Amenhotep III, and continued to be used by Tutankhamun and Ay,” they said.
The team said it was “the largest” ancient city uncovered in Egypt.
Betsy Bryan, professor of Egyptian art and archeology at Johns Hopkins University, said the find was the “second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun” nearly a century ago, the team’s statement said.
Items of jewelry have been unearthed, along with colored pottery vessels, scarab beetle amulets and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep III.
“Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it,” said Hawass, a former Egyptian minister of antiquities.
The team began excavations in September last year, between the temples of Ramses III and Amenhotep III near Luxor, about 500km south of Cairo.
“Within weeks, to the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions,” the statement said.
“What they unearthed 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.”
After seven months of excavations, several neighborhoods have been uncovered, including a bakery complete with ovens and storage pottery, as well as administrative and residential districts.
Amenhotep III inherited an empire that stretched from the Euphrates River in modern Iraq and Syria to Sudan and died around 1354 BC, ancient historians say.
He ruled for nearly four decades, a reign known for its opulence and the grandeur of its monuments, including the Colossi of Memnon — two massive stone statues near Luxor that represent him and his wife.
“The archeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday,” the team’s statement said.
The city “will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the ancient Egyptians at the time where the empire was at his wealthiest,” Bryan said.
The team were optimistic that further important finds would be revealed, they said, adding that they had discovered groups of tombs reached through “stairs carved into the rock,” a similar construction to those found in the Valley of the Kings.
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