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Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry

Remains of a lost 3,300-year-old temple, most likely founded by the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose II, have been unearthed in the Gebel al Silisilah; ancient Egypt’s largest sandstone quarry located to the north of Aswan.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
Foundations of the temple revealed at the site 
[Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
The temple, previously described as a “destroyed Ramesside temple,” was discovered during excavation work being carried out by a team from Sweden’s Lund University and headed by Dr. Maria Nilsson and Dr. John Ward.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
The temple once boasted a starred ceiling, as revealed from these two painted sandstone
 fragments featuring the Egyptian star and sky [Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
“We were successful in locating the temple based on the rudimentary map published by Borchardt and a basic unpublished plan drawing by Lacovara,” Nilsson told The Cairo Post Sunday.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
Fragments of relief depicting the Pharaoh Thutmosis, revealing that 
the first temple phase dates back to at least 3500 years 
[Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
The remains of the temple have revealed archaeological evidence for at least four chronological periods; Thutmosis/Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Ramses II and the Roman period, according to Nilsson.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
Cartouche fragment of Amenhotep III, the ninth pharaoh of 
the 18th Dynasty who ruled from about 1386 to 1350 BC 
[Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
Gebel Silsila is a rocky gorge between Kom Ombo and Edfu villages where the Nile narrows and high sandstone cliffs come down to the edge of the river. Several shrines were cut in the area by the New Kingdom Pharaohs Thutmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Horemheb, archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
Coloured beads from the 18th Dynasty found at the site 
 [Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
“The significance of the find is that it changes the history of the site, and it firmly establishes Gebel el Silsila as not only a quarry, but also a sacred location. The archaeologist are currently studying the material, and working on producing a comprehensive plan and eventually 3D (digital) reconstruction,” Ward told The Cairo Post Sunday.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
Cartouche fragment of  Ramses II (c.1303-1213 BC), the third pharaoh of the 
19th Dynasty of Egypt, providing evidence for two later temple phases
 [Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
Among the small finds discovered in the temple area were several 18th Dynasty beads, colored plaster, faience sherds, thousands of pot sherds, and a blue-colored scarab, according to Ward.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
Blue-colored scarab found at the site possibly dating to the Second Intermediate Period
 (c.1650 -1550 BC) [Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
“The temple remains measure approximately 35.2 x 18.4 m and include four (visible) dressed floor levels, column bases, inner and outer walls,” Nilsson said.

Temple remains found at ancient Egyptian quarry
General view of Gebel el Silsila quarry where the remains of the temple were discovered
[Credit: Gebel el Silsila Survey Project]
She added that the oldest building phase of the temple was made up by limestone, which is unique within a sandstone quarry, and “may signify the official changeover from limestone construction to sandstone.”

Earlier this year, the mission unearthed a rock inscription portraying a rare transfer of two obelisks from a quarry at Gebel el Silsila.

Author: Rany Mostafa | Source: The Cairo Post [May 17, 2015]
TANN

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