It is always so exciting to learn about new archaeological discoveries in Egypt. The announcement, yesterday, of what is being dubbed “Egypt’s Pompeii” or the Lost Golden City offers new insights into one of the most glorious and controversial periods of ancient Egyptian history.
A team of archaeologists led by famous Egyptologist and former Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, began excavations on the West Bank of the Nile near Luxor in September 2020. They were searching for the mortuary temple of Tutankhamun, a place where offerings would have been brought to honour the dead pharaoh. Digging in a promising location between the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III (site of the famous Colossi of Memnon) and the huge temple of Medinet Habu built for Ramses III, they instead found the remains of an ancient city. It had been buried under the sand for millennia. Built approximately 3400 years ago, it dates from the reign of Amenhotep III. He ruled in the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, at the height of Egypt’s Empire period. Hailed as “Amenhotep the Magnificent”, he had a long reign that may also have included a co-regency with his son, the “heretic pharaoh” who ruled as Akenaten (changing his name from Amenhotep IV).
Zahi Hawass and his team are hailing the lost golden city as the most important discovery since Howard Carter found Tutankhamun’s tomb. And so it may prove. Already human and animal burials are being found, along with items of jewellery, pottery and wine jar seals. The team has unearthed remains of a bakery and kitchen, items related to glass and metal making and buildings with apparently administrative functions. The team dangles the prospect of finding tombs filled with treasures. Whether or not this hope will be fulfilled, it remains a remarkable discovery. Some of the streets have walls almost ten meters high. It promises to shed light on one of the most fascinating periods in ancient Egyptian history. Evidence has been found to suggest the city was still in use under Tutankhamun and Ay, although Akhenaten abandoned ancient Thebes, building a new capital Akhet-Aten between modern Luxor and Cairo.
As a writer of adventure/mystery stories set in Egypt, it shows that it’s not so far-fetched to imagine new discoveries turning up all the time. The Lost Golden City is a story I will follow with interest.
Post images courtesy of Zahi Hawass.
Fiona Deal, Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, fiction books all available on Amazon. To join Merry on her adventures please click on each picture for the link.