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., has been found in the southern province of Luxor, Egypt near some of the country’s best-known monuments.
There is no denying that with the passage of time, many ancient cities decayed and abandoned. Many of these cities belonged to kings and contained a lot of treasure. Archaeologists have been digging in various places to find these cities and the treasures that they may yet possess. Things found in the archaeological excavations also help in finding more about human evolution.
The first known archaeological excavation took place in the 6th century BC. It was done by Nabonidus, the king of Babylon excavated a thousand-year-old temple floor. Europeans also began digging for pots that emerged from erosion and weapons that had turned up on farmlands. Egypt has been prone to a lot of such excavations for centuries. The latest among the findings from Egypt is a 3,000-year-old ‘lost golden city’.
Who found the city?
According to archaeologists, the newly discovered city is believed to be the largest ancient city found in Egypt. According to experts, the city had been buried under sand for a millennium, is one of the most significant discoveries since the unearthing of Tutankhamun’s tomb on November 26, 1922.
Zahi Hawass, a famed Egyptologist, announced the discovery of this ‘lost golden city’ on Facebook. He said that the site was discovered near Luxor, which is home to the Valley of the Kings. “The Egyptian mission under Dr Zahi Hawass found the city that was lost under the sand,” said the archaeology team. They also said that the city is 3,000 years old and dates back to the reign of Amenhotep III, and was used by Tutankhamun and Ay.
History of Amenhopten III
Amenhotep III, also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent, was the 9th pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. He ruled Egypt from 1386 BC to 1351 BC after his father Thutmose IV. In his reign, Egypt experienced unprecedented prosperity and splendor. The city that was found, was Aten and was a part of Amenhotep III’s empire.
Amenhotep III’s son Amenhotep IV, ruled from 1353-1336 BC. He had different principles than his father and abandoned all traditional Egyptian culture and pantheon except the sun god Aten. As a result, he changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten, which means “devoted to Aten.” He moved his royal seat from Thebes to a new city called Akhetaten.
Discoveries made at the site
Betsy Bryan, an Egyptian art and archaeology professor, working at Johns Hopkins University, said that the discovery was the “second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun.” The city is located on the western bank of the Nile river, close to the Colossi of Memnon, Medinet Habu, and the Ramesseum, or the mortuary temple of King Ramses II, which are popular tourist destinations.
The team started the excavations in September 2020, between the temples of Ramses III and Amenhotep III near Luxor, which is 500 km south of Cairo. The statement by archaeologists read, “Within weeks, to the team’s great surprise formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions. What they unearthed was the site of a large city preserved in good condition, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools of daily life.” After seven months of excavating, the archaeologists have found city walls and even rooms filled with utensils that included clay caps of wine vessels, rings, scarabs, colored pottery, as well as spinning and weaving tools. The site also contains some ovens and kilns which were used o make glass and faience. Some of the bricks discovered at the site also bared the seal of Tutankhamun’s grandfather King Amenhotep III.
The Unusual Discoveries
The team said that the archaeological layers have remained untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday. Bryan said that 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.”
Amongst the discoveries were some unusual ones. They found two burial spots of a cow and a bull inside the rooms. The purpose of these is still unknown. A human skeleton was also found at the site with its arms stretched out to the side, and remains of ropes were found wrapped around the knees. The most informative discovery was that of a vessel that contained 10kg of dried meat. It bore an inscription which read, “Year 37, dressed meat for the third Heb Sed festival from the slaughterhouse of the stockyard of Kha, made by the butcher luwy.”
Why is the discovery important?
According to Zahi Hawass, the city once was the largest administrative,and industrial settlement of the pharaonic empire, and several foreign missions were unable to find the settlement. As to the question of why the city was abandoned during the reign of Akhenaten, Bryan says “I don’t know that we’ll get closer to answering that question through this particular city.
Bryan says that the city will provide more information about Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, and their families. He believes that more and more connections will be found as the excavation continues. Even though the city may not have many direct clues related to the rebel pharaoh, it may provide information about his reign as well as his wealth and what he left behind.