CAIRO – Archaeologists said Thursday they had discovered a great ancient pharaonic city that had lain hidden for centuries near some of Egypt’s best-known monuments.
The city was built more than 3,400 years ago during the opulent reign of Amenhotep III, one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs, according to the Egyptian archaeologist overseeing the excavations, Zahi Hawass.
The team began searching for a mortuary temple near Luxor in September and within weeks found mud brick formations in all directions, Hawass said in a statement.
They unearthed the well-preserved city that had nearly complete walls and rooms filled with tools from everyday life along with rings, beetles, colored ceramic pots, and clay bricks with seals from the cartouche of Amenhotep.
“The streets of the city are lined with houses and some of its walls are up to three meters high,” said Hawass.
The excavations are on the west bank of Luxor, near the Colossi of Memnon, Medinet Habu and the Ramesseum, or Mortuary Temple of King Ramses II, not far from the Valley of the Kings.
“This is a very important discovery,” said Peter Lacovara, director of the Ancient Egyptian Archeology and Heritage Fund, based in the United States.
The state of preservation and the volume of items from everyday life brought to mind another famous excavation, he added.
“It is a kind of Pompeii of ancient Egypt and shows the critical need to preserve this area as an archaeological park,” said Mr. Lacovara, who has worked in the Malqata palace area for more than 20 years but did not participate in the excavations. .
The site contains a large number of kilns and furnaces for making glass and earthenware, along with the rubble of thousands of statues, said Betsy Bryan, a specialist on the reign of Amenhotep III.
“The simple act of locating the manufacturing centers opens up the detail of how the Egyptians under a great and wealthy ruler like Amenhotep III did what they did,” he said. “This will provide insight for many years to come.”