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Cartouche of the Last Pharaoh of Egypt Found at Illegal Dig Under Home in Abydos

Cartouche of the Last Pharaoh of Egypt Found at Illegal Dig Under Home in Abydos

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A team of Egyptian archaeologists found a cartouche of the last native Egyptian pharaoh under the home of a man in Abydos, Egypt. The man and his accomplices were doing an illegal excavation underneath the old mud-brick home.

A cartouche or carved stone relief gives the name and epithets of ancient Egyptian kings. In this case it was King Nectanebo II, who ruled during the very end of the 30 th Dynasty, 360 to 342 BC.

The team found the cartouche under the home in the Beni Mansour area of Abydos during an inspection. The archaeological committee is from the Al-Belinna inspectorate.

Agents of the Tourism and Antiquities Police have confiscated the home until the committee can complete its investigation, Hani Abul Azm told AhramOnline . He is the chief of Upper Egypt’s Central Administration for Antiquities. He said the cartouche, which is a stone block, could have formed part of the king’s royal shrine or been the extension of a temple wall constructed on the king’s orders.

AhramOnline says Nectanebo II is famous for his construction undertakings in Abydos.

Egypt prospered under the Nectanebo II’s reign. His artists’ distinctive style was unique during the Ptolemaic kingdom. Nectanebo II was inspired by many cults of Egypt’s gods. He left his mark on more than 100 sites, including beginning the huge temple of Isis.

A relief from the time of Nectanebo II’s reign showing gods carrying flowers and drinks for the pharaoh. ( Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License )

After authorities expropriate the house, archaeologists will undertake more excavations under it, according to Abul Azm.

It’s hard to say if the cartouche, which is partly submerged in water underground, is part of a shrine or temple wall, said Ashraf Okasha, the director-general of Abydos Antiquities. He said the block is 140 by 40 cm (0.55 by 15.75 inches).

The archaeological committee found the illegal excavations underway, with a 4-meter-deep (16 ft) pit dug under the home, he said. It was at the bottom of this hole that the cartouche was discovered.

The Metternich Stela, another stone monument from the time of the reign of King Nectanebo II. Photo Source: ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Earlier this year, Ancient Origins reported on the spectacular Metternich stela, also created during the reign of King Nectanebo II. Details related to the origins of the artifact remain unknown. It is a part of a group of stelae known as ''Cippus of Horus''- a collection of stelae used to protect people from dangers like snake or crocodile attacks. However, this particular stela is one of the largest of its kind. It also has some of the best-preserved magical text from its time.

The stela has magical recipes to heal poisons, mostly animal poisons. Legends also say the stela itself has magical powers. Ancient doctors would pour water over the stela and collect it to give it to a person who had been poisoned. The spells discuss different animals, but they especially focus on cats and reptiles. Cats were believed to be animals of gods and goddesses, so they were thought to have the ability to heal every poison. The spell against reptile poison was connected to the serpent demon Apophis. It was thought to force the serpent to vomit when the priest was chanting the spell. At that point the sick person would also vomit - relieving him or herself of the poison. The stela also describes some stories related to deities. In fact, most of the text is dedicated to the story of Horus - who was poisoned but cured.

13-foot-long 'Book of the Dead' scroll found in burial shaft in Egypt

A funerary temple belonging to Queen Nearit has been discovered in the ancient Egyptian burial ground Saqqara next to the pyramid of her husband, pharaoh Teti, who ruled Egypt from around 2323 B.C. to 2291 B.C., the Egyptian antiquities ministry said in a statement.

Made of stone, the temple has three mud-brick warehouses on its southeastern side that held offerings made to the queen and her husband.

Near the pyramid, the team of Egyptian archaeologists also found a series of burial shafts containing the remains of people who lived during the 18th and 19th dynasties of Egypt (1550 B.C. - 1186 B.C.), the ministry said in the statement, which was released Jan. 16. These burials were likely part of a Teti-worshipping cult that formed after the pharaoh's death. The cult seems to have remained active for more than a millennium, with people wanting to be buried near the pharaoh's pyramid. So far, the team has uncovered more than 50 wooden coffins in these shafts, along with a wide array of objects.

Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Carving Found in Looting Hole

Egyptian authorities say they caught looters digging up an ancient stone block carved with an image of a pharaoh.

In the city of Abydos, antiquities authorities say they were inspecting an old two-story, mud-brick house when they found that the owner had excavated a hole in the floor.

The block was at the bottom of the hole, about 13 feet (4 meters) below the floor, according to an announcement from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. [See Photos of Looting in Egypt]

Images of the discovery show that the block is decorated with the cartouche of Nectanebo II. (A cartouche is a symbol consisting of ovals that frame a set of hieroglyphs indicating a royal name). Nectanebo II ruled during Egypt's 30th Dynasty, from 360 to 342 B.C., and was the last native Egyptian pharaoh before his defeat during the Persian conquest.

Abydos is in Upper Egypt about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the Nile River. The earliest kings of Egypt were buried at the site, and it remained an important religious place for thousands of years. Today, many of its monuments are still visible, such as Temple of Seti I and Ahmose's pyramid.

Abydos was especially important as a cult center for Osiris, the god of the underworld. Several Egyptian rulers built their own temples to Osiris at this site, and Nectanebo II might have done so, too. The block could be a part of the king's royal shrine or an extension of a wall from the temple, said Hani Abul Azm, head of the Central Administration for Antiquities of Upper Egypt, according to the announcement.

The house where the block was found is now under police supervision. Abul Azm said that proper excavations may take place to reveal more about the site.

Archaeologists Unearth a ‘Lost Golden City’ in Egypt

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Photograph: Mohamed Elshahed/Getty Images

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A team of Egyptian archaeologists has unearthed what some describe as an industrial royal metropolis just north of modern-day Luxor, which incorporates what was once the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes (aka Waset). The archaeologists dubbed the site "the lost golden city of Luxor," and they believe it may have been devoted to manufacturing decorative artifacts, furniture, and pottery, among other items.

This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast.

Hieroglyphic inscriptions found on clay caps of wine vessels at the site date the city to the reign of the 18th-dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III (1386–1353 BCE), whose generally peaceful tenure was marked by an especially prosperous era, with Egypt at the peak of its international power. (Mud bricks at the site were also marked with Amenhotep III's cartouche.) There are more surviving statues of Amenhotep III than any other pharaoh. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings, and his mummy was discovered in 1889. Analysis revealed that Amenhotep III died between 40 and 50 years of age, and he likely suffered from various ailments in his later years (most notably arthritis, obesity, and painful abscesses in his teeth).

The pharaoh's eldest son and heir, Thutmose, died young, so the throne passed to his second son, Amenhotep IV, who soon changed his name to Akhenaten. (His queen was Nefertiti, and his son, who would eventually assume the throne, was the famous boy-king, Tutankhamun.) Akhenaten rejected the traditional polytheistic religion, dominated by the worship of Amun, and decided to start his own religion. He worshipped Aten instead (hence the name change) and would eventually try to suppress the worship of Amun entirely.

Akhenaten also moved the capital away from the city of Thebes, setting up a new capital on the site of what is now the city of Amarna, halfway between Thebes and Memphis. Was he a visionary revolutionary or a heretical, mad fanatic? Possibly neither—some historians have argued that moving the capital may have been more of a political strategy on the part of the new pharaoh to break the stranglehold of Amun's priests on Egyptian culture and society. At any rate, Tutankhamun brought the capital to Memphis and ordered the construction of even more temples and shrines at Thebes once he assumed the throne, ending Akhenaten's rebellion.

The discovery of this new site may or may not shed more light on Akhenaten's decision to abandon Thebes—and this nearby newly discovered manufacturing center—but it is nonetheless being hailed as an extraordinary discovery. "There's no doubt about it it really is a phenomenal find," Salima Ikram, an archaeologist who leads the American University in Cairo's Egyptology unit, told National Geographic. "It's very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii. I don't think you can oversell it. It is mind-blowing."

Betsy Bryan, an Egyptologist at Johns Hopkins University, called it "the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun."

Archaeologist Zahi Hawass, who led the Egyptian team, shared the official announcement in a Facebook post. The team started out searching for Tutankhamun's mortuary temple, since temples of the last two pharaohs of the 18th dynasty, Horemheb and Ay, had been found in the same general area. The archaeologists chose an excavation area sandwiched between a temple of Rameses III at Medinet Habu and Amenhotep III's temple at Memnon. Within weeks of beginning the excavation last September, Hawass and his team were excited to unearth mud brick formations: zigzagging walls as much as nine feet high, apparently a rare element in ancient Egyptian architecture.

The team found numerous artifacts: rings, scarabs, pottery vessels, debris from thousands of statues, and a large number of tools, possibly used for spinning or weaving and casting molds. There was a bakery and a food preparation area (with ovens and pottery for storage) in the southern part of the site that was large enough to serve a good-sized workforce. There was also a production area for mud bricks and what appears to be an administration area. One excavated area contained the skeleton of a cow or bull, while a human skeleton was found in an odd position: arms stretching down against its side, with the remains of a rope around its knees.

Searching for the pharaohs: where are the tombs of Ancient Egypt’s missing kings and queens?

Where are all of Ancient Egypt's missing pharaohs? Egyptologist Chris Naunton gives BBC History Revealed a primer on the hunt for the lost mummies of Ancient Egypt's pyramid-building rulers – from the earliest French expeditions in the late 18th century, onto Howard Carter's dazzling discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922 and through to the present day

This competition is now closed

Of all the great monuments left behind by the Ancient Egyptians, it is perhaps their tombs that archaeologists find most fascinating. They were the great focus for investment: those who could afford it would never commission better craftsmen or use finer materials than when making provision for the afterlife. Tombs protected both the body and burial goods – everything essential for the individual to succeed in their journey to the next world.

Tombs have provided an unimaginable wealth of material. Although most of what there would once have been has been lost, a great deal has survived, and much that has been recovered represents the finest Ancient Egypt had to offer.

It is no coincidence that the most iconic image to have survived from this era, the golden mask of Tutankhamun, came from his tomb, which was unearthed by Howard Carter in 1922. That discovery, the culmination of a century or so of sensational finds, birthed the archetype of the archaeologist holding a lamp into a gloomy interior to see heaps of golden treasure glinting back at him.

Tutankhamun reigned towards the end of the 18th Dynasty, a period that, along with the 19th and 20th Dynasties, represents one of the great eras of Egypt’s past: the New Kingdom. One of the defining features of the period was the use of the Valley of the Kings as the royal cemetery. At the beginning of the 19th century, the tombs of 13 of the 33 New Kingdom pharaohs had been identified in the Valley by the time Carter added Tutankhamun’s to the list, only five remained to be found.

Find out even more about ancient Egypt at our hub page

Who were the first modern Egyptologists?

Histories of Egyptology commonly begin on 1 July 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte landed on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt with an expeditionary force not only comprised of soldiers, but also of artists and scientists.

Napoleon’s intention was to establish Egypt as a French colony, strengthen his grip on the Mediterranean and deal a blow to Britain. His ‘savants’, however, were there for more enlightened reasons: they were to journey around the country, surveying and recording all they found, including the remains of Egypt’s ancient monuments. These had been visited and described by various western travellers, but no expedition on this scale had ever been attempted.

On 26 January 1799, the savants reached the spectacular ruins of Thebes Molouk, ‘the Valley of the Gates of the Kings’. Two of them, Prosper Jollois and Édouard de Villiers du Terrage, made the first accurate map of the site, noting the position of 16 tombs, most of which had been open and accessible since antiquity. Furthermore, they seem to have been the first to record the existence of the side wadi leading off the main branch of the necropolis to the west, now known as the Western Valley.

The savants were clearly awed by what they had found. The tombs consisted of long corridors cut into the rock that eventually led to larger chambers, the last of which typically contained a stone sarcophagus that should have held a body. In each case it had been pillaged by robbers.

Little remained of any grave goods or the occupants, but the walls were brightly painted with exotic scenes of the kings and an array of curious human and animal gods, and everywhere were the enigmatic hieroglyphic signs, though no-one could read the inscriptions at this point.

In attempting to attribute the monuments to any particular period or king they were largely reliant on the somewhat garbled accounts of Egypt’s history written by classical authors such as Diodorus and Strabo. They could only guess at who had been buried there.

Giovanni Battista Belzoni’s big break

In 1815, Giovanni Battista Belzoni arrived in Thebes, instructed by British Consul General of Egypt Henry Salt to ready the head and shoulders of a statue of Ramesses II for transport from ‘the Ramesseum’ – the Pharaoh’s great mortuary temple – to the River Nile, where it would begin a journey to the British Museum. The task had defeated Salt’s rival, French Consul-General Bernardino Drovetti – Belzoni achieved it within around two weeks.

Salt subsequently sent Belzoni to the Valley of the Kings, where Belzoni removed the sarcophagus box from one of the tombs Napoleon’s savants had entered, that of Ramesses III. By this time, he had become interested in making his own investigations. He was aware that the classical authors had described many more tombs than had been unearthed and resolved to find the missing ones.

He began his search in late 1816 in the Western Valley, where Napoleon’s savants had noted the existence of the tomb of Amehotep III. There, a little further down the wadi, he found the tomb of Ay, the penultimate pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, although only by accident and without realising whose tomb it was: “I went into these mountains only to examine the various places, where the water descends from the desert into the valleys after rain,” he wrote.

“I cannot boast of having made a great discovery in this tomb though it contains several curious and singular painted figures on the walls and from its extent, and part of a sarcophagus remaining in the centre of a large chamber, have reason to suppose, that it was the burial place of some person of distinction.” The world would not know it was Ay’s tomb until it was investigated again in the 1970s, although almost all the figures and names of the pharaoh had been defaced.

Belzoni soon found a second tomb in the same area. This one was unfinished and undecorated, but contained the coffined mummies of eight individuals probably belonging to a family of the 22nd Dynasty.

Returning to the main branch of the Valley of the Kings, he discovered the resting place of Mentuherkhepeshef (a son of Ramesses IX), then another undecorated tomb. In October 1817, he finally found the tomb of a great pharaoh: the first king of the 19th Dynasty, Ramesses I.

A staircase led into the bedrock from the Valley floor, and was followed by a descending passageway, and then another steep staircase that terminated in a beautifully decorated burial chamber. It was “tolerably large and well painted” in Belzoni’s estimation, with a red granite sarcophagus in the centre.

The tomb was grand, but it seemed not to have been completely finished. Ramesses was the founder of the 19th Dynasty and was not of royal blood himself. He may have come to the throne late in life having already proven himself a capable leader in the Egyptian army. He only ruled for a short period, perhaps just two or three years, which might explain why his tomb wasn’t more magnificent.

In the steps of Imhotep

Chris Naunton strides into the desert to find the architect and physician vilified by Hollywood

The North Saqqara plateau was extensively excavated by Bryan Emery in the 1960s and early 1970s. He wanted to find the tomb of Imhotep and had been drawn to the area by a combination of two types of evidence: some very large tombs of Imhotep’s time, and a scatter of ritual deposits indicating much later cultic activity of the kind one would expect around the temple of Imhotep, which texts tell us was in the area.

In spring 2015, I set off for the plateau to attempt to locate, or at least get close to the site of some of the monuments that have been associated with Imhotep’s tomb. Having studied the archaeological maps and modern satellite images at length, I set out across the sands armed with an iPad and iPhone, heading roughly northwest from what remains of Emery’s dig house.

To my surprise and delight, the main temple complex of the Sacred Animal Necropolis discovered by Emery remained recognisable from the photos I had seen.

Of the tombs Emery found, number 3508 was invisible, though I was able to get close to its position. Tomb 3518 – around which was found both a seal bearing the name of Imhotep’s king (Djoser) and a number of votive offerings made to a god of medicine and healing, which was probably Imhotep himself – was partly visible.

The upper reaches of its preserved mudbrick walls emerged from the golden sands, which continued to swirl around them – as if they might swallow the tomb in a moment.

Looking southwards, the Step Pyramid, the world’s first monumental building in stone (and a creation of Imhotep) was very visible – tomb 3518 seems to have been built in precise alignment with it, adding weight to the idea that it might have been Imhotep’s own.

As I prepared to leave the site, I noticed a series of narrow gauge railway carriages of the kind used by Emery and other archaeologists to carry the debris away from their excavations. Were these Emery’s? I couldn’t be sure. In any case, they were slowly being swallowed up by the sands, a very modern phase of the history of the site nonetheless becoming a part of its archaeology.

Belzoni moved a little farther up the same branch of the Valley, where – at last – he made a discovery of the magnitude he had hoped for: the tomb of Ramesses I’s successor, Seti I. One of the greatest of all pharaohs, Seti I ruled for between 11 and 15 years, re-established Egypt’s territory in Syria-Palestine and launched massive building projects at sites such as Karnak and Abydos. His tomb was the longest ever constructed in the Valley at more than 137 metres, and beautifully decorated throughout.

Like the tomb of Ramesses I, it was entered via a sequence of stairways and sloping passages, but Seti I’s tomb incorporated a further seven principal chambers, five of them supported by squarebased pillars. Fragments of his burial equipment littered the floor of the tomb, including the remains of numerous shabti figurines – small statues that acted as the servants of the deceased in the afterlife.

The most spectacular object was the pharaoh’s sarcophagus, which lay over a staircase leading to a roughly cut passageway leading deep into the hillside (the end of which was only reached in 2007). The lid had been removed and smashed into fragments, but the box that remained was a masterpiece of stone craftsmanship, made from an enormous piece of translucent Egyptian alabaster. It was decorated with finely carved hieroglyphs and accompanying images from various religious texts, principally the Book of Gates.

Belzoni removed it from the tomb and it became part of Salt’s collection. It was destined to be sold when it reached England and was taken to the British Museum in 1821. After two years’ deliberations the Museum authorities agreed to buy the collection but not the sarcophagus, on the grounds that it was too expensive. Instead it passed into the hands of a London architect, Sir John Soane. To this very day it remains in the crypt of his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London, now a public museum.

What else was discovered in the Valley of the Kings?

It was not until the French excavator Victor Loret began working in the Valley in the 1890s that the number of confirmed tombs would increase.

In 1883, Frenchman Eugène Lefébure conducted a thorough survey of the tombs, plotting their location and copying the decoration and graffiti. Loret was a part of Lefébure’s team and had clearly made a note of the possibility that further tombs might be found. In 1897, he became director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, and in the two years he held the post he made an incredible sequence of discoveries to rival Belzoni’s, increasing the number of known tombs from 25 to 41.

The tombs discovered included KV 39, perhaps that of Amenhotep I – the second ruler of the 18th Dynasty, whose place of burial has not been located with certainty yet – and KV 34, which belonged to Tuthmose III, with its curious decoration and cartouche-shaped burial chamber.

The most important of Loret’s finds was the tomb of Amenhotep II. Richly decorated and architecturally complex, it was in good condition, and unusually the king’s mummy was still in place in the sarcophagus.

In the side rooms leading off to the right of the main burial chamber, Loret found two caches of mummies. In the first were three unwrapped bodies lying side by side: in the centre, a young male to the right, a young woman, now known as the ‘Younger Lady’ and to the left an ‘Elder Lady’. Without any coffins or other inscribed material Loret was unable to identify them.

A combination of evidence gathered since, plus DNA testing, suggests that the Elder Lady is Queen Tiye – wife of Amenhotep III, mother of Akhenaten, and grandmother of Tutankhamun. The Younger Lady could be Nefertiti, but the evidence to confirm that theory is still lacking.

In the second room, Loret found another cache of mummies, this time wrapped and within coffins. In addition to that of Amenhotep II, he had found the bodies of nine pharaohs of the New Kingdom. They had been moved here on a single occasion in the 13th year of Smendes I of the 21st Dynasty, to protect them from desecration by robbers.

Howard Carter finds Tutankhamun

Further discoveries were made in the early part of the 20th century, many under the sponsorship of Theodore M Davis. An elderly lawyer from Rhode Island, US, Davis had spent his winters on the Nile since 1889. He had expressed an interest in becoming involved in excavation to the young Chief Inspector of Antiquities in Upper Egypt, one Howard Carter. Davis agreed to finance Carter’s excavations: following an unspectacular first season in 1902, in January 1903 Carter discovered the tomb of Tuthmose IV.

He would go on to investigate tomb KV 20 – which had been open for many years but about which very little was known. It proved to have been cut for Tuthmose I and was probably the first tomb in the Valley, but was subsequently adapted to accommodate the burial of his daughter, the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. Carter was then re-assigned by the Antiquities Service to Lower Egypt, and could no longer continue his work in the Valley of the Kings.

Davis would continue to sponsor the excavations of Carter’s successors in Upper Egypt, starting with James Quibell, who found the largely intact non-royal tomb of Queen Tiye’s parents, Yuya and Thuya, then Arthur Weigall, and from 1905 with another excavator acting independently of the Antiquities Service, Edward Ayrton.

In 1907, Ayrton discovered the enigmatic tomb KV 55, which contained a jumble of material of the Amarna period, including some of the burial equipment of Queen Tiye and a coffin containing the mummy of a male individual who has recently been shown through DNA analysis to be the father of Tutankhamun. We can’t be sure precisely who this was as there are no inscriptions identifying either of the Boy King’s parents, but it is likely to have been the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten. A year later, Ayrton would also discover the tomb of one of Tutankhamun’s successors, the last king of the 18th Dynasty, Horemheb.

What are Egyptologists looking for?

Every year, dozens of archaeological projects are undertaken in Egypt, and they are not solely concerned with pharaohs – they are searching for evidence of how the most ordinary members of society lived too. They do this using a number of techniques, from topographical surveys and traditional excavation to remote sensing.

Archaeology can be a slow business but spectacular discoveries are still made on a regular basis: recent highlights include the revelation of the tomb of Ramesses II’s army general and the pyramid of a 13th-Dynasty princess. Yet many questions remain.

Although the efforts of Belzoni, Loret, Davis, Carter and others helped reveal the tombs of most of the New Kingdom pharaohs, several remain unaccounted for – including those of Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Tuthmose II and Ramesses VIII. All in all, of the tombs of more than 200 pharaohs known to have ruled Egypt from the 1st Dynasty to the end of the Ptolemaic Period, approximately half have yet to be found.

Despite two centuries of study, there are still unexcavated areas at Saqqara, Abydos and even in the Valley of the Kings, whilst ancient Alexandria – Egypt’s capital for many centuries and almost certainly the site of the royal tombs of the Ptolemaic Period – is largely inaccessible owing to the buildings of the modern city.

Ayrton left Egyptology shortly after this and was replaced as Davis’s man in the field by Harold Jones. A few further minor discoveries were made in the following years but by 1912 Davis felt able to declare the Valley “exhausted”.

Many believed there were still discoveries to be made, Carter among them. He would take up the concession to excavate in the Valley, this time with the financial support of the Earl of Carnarvon. After a few unsuccessful years, in November 1922, Carter would show Davis to have been wrong in the most spectacular way with the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the 62nd to be found. No further royal tombs have been discovered in the Valley since.

When were the most recent tombs found?

In recent years, two tombs have been found, but neither was intended for the burial of pharaoh. KV 63 contained only a cache of materials used in the mummification process, perhaps connected with the funeral of Tutankhamun. KV 64 was perhaps the tomb of an 18th Dynasty princess but was subsequently re-used during the 22nd Dynasty.

Gaps still remain in our knowledge. The tombs of the first, second and fourth kings of the 18th Dynasty – Ahmose I, Amenhotep I and Tuthmose II – have yet to be positively identified, as has that of Ramesses VIII. It is also possible that royal burials from the time of Tutankhamun’s reign or thereabouts may yet await us as well: although Tutankhamun’s tomb is perhaps the best known of any from the ancient world, those of his wife, Ankhesenamun, and his predecessors Smenkhkare and Neferneferuaten are unknown, and we cannot yet be certain of the final resting place of Akhenaten.

Similar gaps exist for other periods of Egyptian history. Egyptology is fortunate in that so many of the tombs of the kings who ruled that part of the world for almost 3,000 years have survived, but we are perhaps equally fortunate that questions remain – and that there is still the possibility that further discoveries will be made.

Who are the most famous Egyptian archaeologists?

Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778-1823)

Born in Italy, by 1804 he had moved to England and joined a travelling circus in which he performed as a strongman. In 1815, he travelled to Egypt to show to Khedive (Viceroy) Muhammad Ali Pasha a hydraulic machine designed to enable irrigation. The Khedive was not interested, but Belzoni was instead taken on by the British Consul General, Henry Salt, to collect antiquities.

Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832)

The Frenchman was the first to decipher hieroglyphs, making use of the Rosetta Stone, which bore an inscription in three scripts: one already understood (ancient Greek) and two that weren’t (hieroglyphic and Demotic).

In 1822, after many years of study, Champollion announced a system of decipherment which, in the years that followed, came to be generally accepted.

John Gardner Wilkinson (1797-1875)

Wilkinson went to Egypt in 1821 and stayed for 12 years, copying inscriptions, while also learning Arabic and Coptic to help him to understand the ancient texts. In preparation for a survey of the Valley of the Kings he painted numbers at the entrance of all the tombs that were known at the time providing the basis for the ‘KV’ numbering system that is still in use today.

Howard Carter (1874-1939)

Carter was appointed Chief Inspector of Antiquities in 1899. He discovered the tomb of Tuthmose IV in 1903, then spent the next two decades working in the Theban Necropolis, mostly with the backing of the Earl of Carnarvon. In November 1922, he uncovered the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun. It proved to be almost intact, with the king’s burial equipment comprising more than 5,000 items.


It is thought that Senebkay lived around 3,650 years ago at a time when rulers battled for power before the rise of Egypt’s New Kingdom in 1550 BC.

Painted decoration in the burial chamber of Senebkay is pictured left. Archaeologists examine Senebkay's skeleton on the right. While his body was mummified, it is thought Senebkay's remains were pulled apart by robbers looking for treasures, who also plundered the pharaoh's tomb

The lost tomb was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania, who came across it while excavating the tomb of pharaoh Sobekhotep I, who was buried nearby.

Senebkay’s final resting place appears to have been plundered because the skeleton is pulled apart, but it is estimated that the ruler was aged around 45 when he died and measured five ft 10 inches.

Josef Wegner of the university, who led the dig, believes the new find could lead to the discovery of more pharaohs and could help piece together the gaps in knowledge about the rulers of Ancient Egypt.

The lost tomb (pictured) was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania, who came across it while excavating the tomb of pharaoh Sobekhotep I, who was buried nearby

The tomb was discovered at the Abydos site (pictured) near Sohag in Egypt and could lead to more royal tombs being unearthed. Last week it was announced that the same archaeological team had uncovered the Tomb of pharaoh Sobekhotep I

‘We discovered an unknown king plus a lost dynasty. It looks likely that all of the 16 kings are all buried there,’ he said.

‘We now have the tomb for first or second king of this dynasty. There should be a whole series of the others.’

Describing the moment the archaeologists came across the tomb, he explained that they found the entrance first, which led them down to the burial chamber, made of limestone and painted with cartouches of the pharaoh.

Last week it was announced that a vast 3,800-year-old quartzite sarcophagus belongs to a little-known 13th dynasty king, Sobekhotep I. It was discovered by an international team of researchers who deciphered inscriptions to link it to its owner

‘In Abydos there is lots of sand and everything is deeply buried. You can dig day after day, and then this….We were standing there looking dumbfounded at the colourful wall decoration,’ he said.

While robbers had stripped the tomb, a re-used burial chest had the engraving of the ruler’s name on the wood.

The experts said the re-use of materials suggests a lack of stability and wealth at a time when the kingdom was fragmented.


A huge pink tomb of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh was identified approximately one year after it was discovered, it was announced last week.

The vast 3,800-year-old quartzite sarcophagus belongs to a little-known 13th Dynasty king called Sobekhotep I, according to the Egyptian government.

The 60 tonne sarcophagus was discovered by the same team of archaeologists at the Abydos site and

The same team or researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry deciphered stone pieces inscribed with the pharaoh’s name, which also show him sitting on a throne, to link the tomb to its owner.

‘He is likely the first who ruled Egypt at the start of the 13th Dynasty during the second intermediate period,’ the minister said.

King Sobekhotep I is thought to have ruled the 13th Dynasty but little is known about him and his kingdom or even when the dynasty began exactly, which makes the discovery particularly important.

Historians believe that it began sometime between 1803BC and 1781BC but they are keen to establish a precise date.

He is thought to have ruled for almost five years, which was ‘the longest rule at this time’ according to ministry official Ayman El-Damarani.

The Last Ancient Egyptian Pyramid

In 1899, an archaeological mission discovered the ruins of Ahmose’s Pyramid in Abydos. Although experts did not immediately know to whom the structure belonged, a few years later in 1902 evidence surfaced that the pyramid belonged to Ahmose I. The pyramid was roughly built around 1,500 BC, some 200 years after the Egyptians had officially stopped building pyramids.

The pyramid, ruined and collapsed has most of its outer casing tones missing. They were most likely used in other building projects after his region and over the years. Despite this, archeologist Arthur Mace discovers two beautifully preserved rows of casing stones, estimating the structure’s steep slope of around 60 degrees.

In comparison, the Great Pyramid of Giza had a less pronounced 51-degree slope. The pyramid complex of Ahmose I was vast. Archaeological excavations revealed two temples erected by Ahmose-Nefertari, Ahmose’s queen. A third temple exists at the site and it is similar to the pyramid temple in terms of form and scale.

Experts argue that the axis of the pyramid complex is associated with a number of ancient monuments that were placed out along a kilometer of the desert. Several structures exist along this direction including a large pyramid dedicated to Ahmose’s grandmother, a rock-cut underground complex believed to have served as either a royal tomb or representation of the Osirian underworld and a terraced temple that was constructed against the high cliffs, built with massive stone and brick terraces.

Although the Middle Kingdom (2134-1784 BC) is generally dated to include all of the 11th Dynasty, it properly begins with the reunification of the land by Mentuhotep II, who reigned 2061-2010 BC. The early rulers of the dynasty attempted to extend their control from Thebes both northward and southward, but it was left to Mentuhotep to complete the reunification process, sometime after 2047 BC. Mentuhotep ruled for more than 50 years, and despite occasional rebellions, he maintained stability and control over the whole kingdom. He replaced some nomarchs and limited the power of the nomes, which was still considerable. Thebes was his capital, and his mortuary temple at Dayr al Bahrì incorporated both traditional and regional elements the tomb was separate from

the temple, and there was no pyramid.

The reign of the first 12th Dynasty king, Amenemhet I, was peaceful. He established a capital near Memphis and, unlike Mentuhotep, de-emphasized Theban ties in favor of national unity. Nevertheless, the important Theban god Amon was given prominence over other deities. Amenemhet demanded loyalty from the nomes, rebuilt the bureaucracy and educated a staff of scribes and administrators. The literature was predominantly propaganda designed to reinforce the image of the king as a "good shepherd" rather than as an inaccessible God. During the last ten years of his reign, Amenemhet ruled with his son as co-regent. "The Story of Sinuhe," a literary work of the period, implies that the king was assassinated.

Amenemhet's successors continued his programs. His son, Sesostris I, who reigned 1962-1928 BC, built fortresses throughout Nubia and established trade with foreign lands. He sent governors to Palestine and Syria and campaigned against the Libyans in the west. Sesostris II, who reigned 1895-1878 BC, began land reclamation in Al Fayyum. His successor, Sesostris III, who reigned 1878-1843 BC, had a canal dug at the first cataract of the Nile, formed a standing army (which he used in his campaign against the Nubians), and built new forts on the southern frontier. He divided the administration into three powerful geographic units, each controlled by an official under the vizier, and he no longer recognized provincial nobles. Amenemhet III continued the policies of his predecessors and extended the land reform.

A vigorous renaissance of culture took place under the Theban kings. The architecture, art, and jewelry of the period reveal an extraordinary delicacy of design, and the time was considered the golden age of Egyptian literature.

Reign of Pharaoh Ay

Pharaoh Ay reigned briefly, from either 1331 to 1327 BC, or from 1327 to 1323 BC, depending on the source absolute dates have not been established. Some speculate this Ay's reign could have been as long as nine years because his temple and monuments were eliminated by his unintended successor, Horemheb.

Nevertheless, it was a brief reign enabled only by his marriage to King Tut's widow. Under Egyptian law, a commoner could not assume the throne unless married to royalty first.

Ay officiated at Tut's burial and quickly assumed the role of heir, outmaneuvering Horemheb in his bid for the throne. Ay quickly married Tut's widow Ankhesenamun, thereby cementing his position as pharaoh. Although Ay had served for more than 25 years under Akhenaten and Tutankhamen, his common birth would otherwise have prohibited his rise to the throne.

A letter purported to be from Ankhesenamun to the enemy Hittite king Suppiluliumas urgently requests that he send her one of his sons so that she doesn't have to marry Ay, who by this time was at quite an advanced age, approximately 70 years old. Although Suppiluliumas reluctantly agreed, his son was killed en route to the marriage and Ay is thought to have been responsible.

Upon becoming pharaoh, Ay began to persecute followers of Akhenaten and that seems to be the focus of his short, four-year reign. After Ay became pharaoh, Ankhesenamun disappears and nothing further is heard about her.

© woodsboy2011 - Relief of Ay and his Wife

Erasing Tutankhamen: Horemheb’s Attempt to Rewrite History

In an attempt to rewrite history, Horemheb usurped monuments made by previous pharaohs and inscribed his own name on them. (Image: JMSH photography/Shutterstock)

The Ninth and Tenth Pylons

Like every pharaoh, Horemheb wanted to show that he is a great builder. Like other pharaohs before him, he built a great pylon, a gateway, for himself at Karnak. He actually built two pylons, called the ninth and tenth pylons. How did he build this pylons?

Akhenaten built temples at Karnak for Aten. After Akhenaten passed away, these temples reminded people of the bad times, of how the pharaoh had tried to enforce monotheism. In an effort to erase the memory of Akhenaten’s heresy, Horemheb took down Akhenaten’s temple, and filled his ninth pylon with the blocks of this temple.

This is a transcript from the video series History of Ancient Egypt. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

Erasing Tutankhamen’s Name

Horemheb also usurped all of Tutankhamen’s monuments. Every monument that Tutankhamen had been advised to erect, Horemheb had the young pharaoh’s name erased and his own inserted in its place. That is why it is so hard to find any information about Tutankhamen.

So, Horemheb was trying to systematically erase all trace of Tutankhamen, who was also seen as being associated with the heresy of his father, Akhenaten. There are so many monuments that were originally erected by Tutankhamen, from which the name of the young pharaoh has been obliterated.

The Restoration Stela

Tutankhamen erected a stela, like all Egyptian kings had done in the past. It is called the ‘Restoration Stela’, because of what it says. As the name suggests, the inscription on the stela talks about restoring old traditions. “When I became king, the temples were in disarray. There were weeds growing in them. All the statues of the gods had been melted down. The military was not respected. If it rode off, nobody attended.”

All pharaohs used to erect stelas to talk about what they thought and did. (Image: Claudio Caridi/ Shutterstock)

Tutankhamen is really saying in this inscription that Egypt had gone downhill under Akhenaten’s reign. In the end, he says, “I will restore it all. I have had new statues of the gods made. The temples are open again.” Despite the fact that Akhenaten was his father, Tutankhamen had to make this announcement because this is what the people wanted to hear.

But Horemheb, as soon as he became the king, had put his name on the stela. One will not find Tutankhamen’s name on it. If one looks at the cartouche on the stela, it will say “Horemheb”.

The Luxor Colonnade

There is another monument that was very important for Tutankhamen, but one cannot find Tutankhamen’s name there. It’s called the Luxor Colonnade. When Tutankhamen’s grandfather Amenhotep III died, he left a monument unfinished. He had started a hall with tall columns, which is why it is called a colonnade. He had built it at Luxor Temple.

When Akhenaten moved to Akhetaten, he left behind his father’s undecorated and unfinished monument. When Tutankhamen moved back from Akhetaten to Thebes, Aye probably advised him to finish this monument. Why? Tutankhamen would have wanted to be associated with his grandfather—whom everybody loved—rather than his heretic father. So, Tutankhamen’s major project during the 10 years of his reign was restoring and completing the Luxor colonnade.

The Opet Festival

Tutankhamen had the artists put scenes from the ‘Opet Festival’ on the Luxor colonnade. Opet festival was the most sacred festival in Egypt. He did this to show to the people of Egypt that he was a traditionalist. It can be read as his declaration of not associating himself with his father, but with his grandfather.

The three major gods of Thebes during this time were Amun, ‘the Hidden One’, Mut, his wife, and Khonsu, their ram-headed son. These gods had statues at Karnak Temple. Karnak Temple is only about a mile and a half away from Luxor Temple. And once a year, during the festival of Opet, the statues of Amun, Mut and Khonsu, would be placed in a little boat shrine and taken from Karnak to Luxor, where they would spend a fortnight or so.

The work on the colonnade at the Luxor temple was begun by Amenhotep III and completed by Tutankhamen. (Image: Dmitri Kalvan/ Shutterstock)

During the festival, people saw the statues of the gods and arrangements were made for food and drink as well. And the king paid for it all. It was a wonderful town feast. That is what Tutankhamen had made the artists put on the Luxor colonnade.

The Opet festival declared to the subjects that their pharaoh, Tutankhamen was bringing back the old traditions. Tutankhamen took part in this festival. We know this from the scenes in the Luxor temple that show Tutankhamen making offerings to the gods.

Rewriting History

If one looks very carefully at the Luxor colonnade, one can’t find Tutankhamen’s name. His name has been erased from the monument and one finds Horemheb’s name, instead.

Horemheb was the traditionalist who tried to restore old order in Egypt. And what he had to do for official reasons, at least what he attempted to do, was erase all traces of the Akhenaten’s heresy. So, he wiped out everything, including Aye’s name. We are left with no traces, no real official records of Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, and Aye.

Horemheb had rewritten history to erase his heretic predecessors and establish himself as a true pharaoh, who had restored the old order.

Common Questions about Horemheb’s Attempt to Rewrite History

When Horemheb built the Ninth pylon at Karnak, he took down the temple built by Akhenaten, and filled the pylon with the broken blocks of Akhenaten’s temple.

Horemheb was trying to systematically erase all trace of Tutankhamen and his father Akhenaten because Akhenaten was seen as a heretic king by many.

The Restoration Stela was originally erected by Tutankhamen to declare his intention to restore traditional ways in Egypt. Later, Horemheb replaced Tutankhamen’s name from this stela with his.

Watch the video: Pharoah of Moses in Egyptian Museum (May 2022).