(Cairo) Egypt, seeking to revive interest in cultural tourism and Egyptian science, has announced the discovery of the remains of a city dating back to the time of the pharaohs, claiming it was the largest ever discovered in the country.
The city is located on the west bank of the Nile near Luxor (south), and already includes the valleys of Pharaonic Egypt, the Kings Valley or the Queen Hotshepsut Temple.
The Archaeological Mission announced the discovery on Thursday, with renowned archaeologist and antiquities minister Zahi Hawass, who oversaw the excavations, presenting the ancient city to the press on Saturday.
Egypt, which is trying to bring back tourists after years of instability, highlighted its archaeological heritage last week by hosting a very popular parade of pharaoh mummies in Cairo.
In January, authorities unveiled to the public about fifty sarcophagi for over 3,000 years. These “treasures” were found at Saqqara, fifteen kilometers south of the famous pyramids of the Giza Plateau.
“Archaeological Mission […] The buried city was discovered […] It dates back to the reign of King Amenhotep III and was used by King Tutankhamun 3000 years ago ”, which confirmed the archaeological mission.
For Betsy Bryan, a professor of Egyptian science at the American University of Johns Hopkins, mentioned in a press release about the “second most important archaeological discovery from the Tutankhomon tomb” in 1922.
The news of the discovery was widely shared on social networks on Friday, with some kind of photos released by the authorities while waiting for Saturday.
According to a press release from King Amenhotep III, who ascended the throne in 1391 BCE, the paintings especially show the network of brick walls.
Items including jewelry and pottery bearing his imprint were found in the city, thus confirming the dating, it stated.
Mr Hawass, quoted in the statement, called the “lost golden city” “Egypt’s greatest ancient city”. “Many foreign missions searched for this city, but could not find it.”
The mission began excavations in September 2020 between the Ramses III and Amenhotep III temples near Luxor, about 500 kilometers south of Cairo.
“In a few weeks […] Clay brick structures are beginning to appear, ”the statement said. The site is “well maintained, with almost all the walls and rooms filled with everyday tools.”
According to Betsy Brian, the discovery will allow the New Kingdom to “give a rare glimpse into the lives of the ancient Egyptians in their most prosperous hours.”
The city is made up of three palaces […] As well as the administrative and manufacturing center of the empire ”.
“The mission hopes to find graves […] It is full of wealth, ”the statement said.
After announcing the discovery, scholars of the Pharaonic era questioned whether the city was only now discovered.
Bring tourists back
Archaeologist Tarek Farag said on Facebook on Friday that the area was excavated 100 years ago, and the questionable city was found there.
“Researchers were interested in the area between 1888 and 1889 […] Between 1912 and 1920, ”he said.
“The Metropolitan Museum (New York) sent a mission there to bring it to light […] The city was “lost” for the first time, he said.
He criticized the ancient ministry for rejecting the work of other archaeologists and compiled a list of educational works on the site from the early 20th century.
Sometimes accused by his colleagues of being a megalomaniac businessman and lacking a scientific outlook, Mr. Hawass justifies himself by presenting his past archaeological discoveries, which he considers “major”.
In the aftermath of the political upheaval associated with the 2011 popular uprising that hit tourism hard, Egypt is trying to bring visitors back, especially by promoting cultural tourism and especially the sites of ancient Egypt.