The lost sun temple found in Egypt may be 4,500 years old

(CNN) – Archaeologists have discovered one of Egypt’s lost “sun temples,” which dates from the mid-24th century BC.

The group found the remains, which were buried under another temple in Abu Ghurab, about 12 miles south of Cairo, Massimiliano Nuzzolo, another director of the mission at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, said he was an assistant professor of Egyptology at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures. on Monday.

Nuzzolo and the team’s discovery were featured in National Geographic’s program, Lost Treasures of Egypt, which aired on Sunday.

In 1898, archaeologists working on the site discovered the Nyuserra Solar Temple, also known as Neuserre or Nyuserre, the sixth king of the 5th dynasty, who ruled Egypt from 2400 to 2370 BC.

The temple was found under a later sun temple.

The temple was found under a later sun temple.

Lost Treasures of Egypt / National Geographic / Windfall Films

Now, discoveries made during the most recent mission suggest that it was built on top of the remains of another solar temple.

“19th-century archaeologists excavated only a very small portion of this mutated brick building under the stone temple of Nyuserra and concluded that this was the previous stage of construction of the same temple,” Nuzzolo told CNN in an email.

“Now our findings show that this was a completely different building that was erected before Nyuserra,” he said.

The finds include seals engraved in the names of the kings who ruled before Nyuserra, which were once used as jars for jars, as well as the bottoms of two limestone columns that were part of the entrance portico, as well as a limestone threshold.

The original structure was made entirely of mutatile, said Nuzzolo, whose team also found dozens of intact beer cans during the excavation. Some jars are filled with ritual mud, which was used only in certain religious rituals, he added, and the pottery is dated to the mid-24th century BC, a generation or two before Nyuserra’s life.

The mututical monument “was impressive in size,” Nuzzolo said, but Nyuserra ritually destroyed it to build his own solar temple.

Although these temples were dedicated to the cult of the sun god Ra, the king legitimized his power through the temple and presented himself as the only son of the sun god on earth, he said.

“Therefore, indirectly, the main purpose of the temple was to be the place of worship of the living king,” Nuzzolo said.

Historical sources suggest that a total of six sun temples were built, but only two had previously been excavated, Nuzzolo said. From these sources, we know that all the sun temples were built around Abu Gharab, he added.

The Nyuserra Solar Temple has a very similar floor plan to the clay brick building, but is larger and made of stone, Nuzzolo said.

Nyuserra would not have built a clay brick building, he added, because the kings of Egypt are not known to have built temples from bricks and later rebuilt them with stones.

“It usually happens that when the king is in a hurry for some reason, he builds a monument to a mutatile whose key elements are stone,” said Nuzzolo, who believes these discoveries make it “very likely” that some of the remaining sun temples were also built of mutatile with a few stone elements.

“This may have facilitated their disappearance over the centuries, as have several other ancient Egyptian monuments built from the same perishable material,” he said.

“In addition, the clay brick building can be easily demolished and buried under other structures, as probably happened in our case.”

The team hopes to find out which king was responsible for building the temple through additional excavations at the site, he said.

By studying pottery in particular, they get more information about how people lived at the time, Nuzzolo added, including what they ate and what they believed in.

The excavation is part of a joint mission between L’Orientale University of Naples and the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The previous version of this story contained various photographs. Images have been modified for copyright reasons.

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