Egypt discover lost “largest” ancient city in luxor

The “lost golden city” was discovered near Luxor, the birthplace of the legendary Valley of the Kings, according to renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.

“The Egyptian mission under Dr. Zahi Hawass found the city that was lost under the sands,” the excavation team said in a statement Thursday.

“The city is 3,000 years old, dates to the reign of Amenhotep III, and continued to be used by Tutankhamun and Ay.”

The discovery was dubbed “the largest” ancient city ever discovered in Egypt by the team. 

According to the team’s statement, Betsy Bryan, a professor of Egyptian art and archaeology at Johns Hopkins University, described the find as the “second most significant archeological discovery after the tomb of Tutankhamun” nearly a century ago. 

Jewelry, coloured pottery pots, scarab beetle amulets, and mud bricks bearing Amenhotep III’s seals have all been discovered. 

“Many foreign missions looked for this city but never found it,” Hawass, a former antiquities minister, said.

In September 2020, the team started excavations near Luxor, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Cairo, between the temples of Ramses III and Amenhotep III.

“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.”

Several neighbourhoods have been discovered after seven months of excavations, including a bakery with ovens and storage pottery, as well as administrative and residential districts. 

According to ancient historians, Amenhotep III inherited an empire that extended from the Euphrates River in modern Iraq and Syria to Sudan, and died around 1354 BC. 

He ruled for nearly four decades, a reign noted for its opulence and the splendor of its monuments, which include the Colossi of Memnon, two large stone statues near Luxor that represent him and his wife.

“The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday,” the team’s statement said.

Bryan 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”.

The team expressed optimism that more significant discoveries would be made, noting that they had discovered groups of tombs accessible through “stairs carved into the rock,” similar to those found in the Valley of the Kings.

“The mission expects to uncover untouched tombs filled with treasures,” the statement added.

After years of political unrest following the Arab Spring uprising of 2011, which severely harmed Egypt’s tourism industry, the country is attempting to reintroduce tourists, especially through the promotion of its ancient heritage. 

Egypt’s mummified remains of 18 ancient kings and four queens were moved across Cairo last week in a procession called the “Pharaohs’ Golden Parade” from the famed Egyptian Museum to the current National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation. 

Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye were among the 22 bodies discovered.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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