According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, archaeologists have discovered a “Lost Golden City” buried under the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor for the last 3,000 years (April 8).
Amenhotep III (ruled 1391-1353 B.C. ), the grandfather of Tutankhamun, or King Tut, constructed the city of “The Rise of Aten.” Throughout Amenhotep III’s co-regency with his son, Amenhotep IV (who subsequently changed his name to Akhenaten), as well as during Tut’s reign and the pharaoh who followed him, revered as Ay, people continued to use the “Golden City.”
Despite the city’s lengthy history, archaeologists had been unable to discover its ruins until recently. According to historical chronicles, it originally housed King Amenhotep III’s three royal palaces and was Luxor’s greatest administrative and industrial center.
In a translated remark, Zahi Hawass, the archaeologist who supervised the Golden City excavation and former minister of state for antiquities affairs, claimed, “Many international delegations looked for this city and never discovered it.”
His team set out in the year 2020 on a mission to locate King Tut’s tomb shrine. They picked this spot because “both Horemheb and Ay temples were located in this vicinity,” according to Hawass.
When they started unearthing mud bricks everywhere they dug, they were taken aback. The team quickly discovered they had stumbled into a big metropolis in excellent condition. “Houses line the city’s streets,” Hawass remarked, noting that some have 10-foot-high walls (3 meters). Rooms in these residences were adorned with knickknacks and instruments that were commonly utilized by ancient Egyptians.
According to Betsy Brian, an Egyptology professor at John Hopkins University, “the discovery of this ancient metropolis is the second most important archeological find after the tomb of Tutankhamun” in 1922. “Not only will the discovery of the Lost City provide us with a unique view into the life of ancient Egyptians at a period when the empire was at its peak, but it will also help us solve one of history’s most vexing puzzles: why did Akhenaten and Nefertiti choose Amarna?”
Only a few years after Akhenaten assumed control in the early 1350s B.C., the Golden City was defeated, and Egypt’s capital was relocated to Amarna.
The crew began courting the Lost City as soon as they understood they had located it. They did so by looking for artifacts with Amenhotep III’s cartouche seal, which is an oval filled with hieroglyphics spelling out his name. The cartouche was found on wine jars, rings, scarabs, colorful pottery, and mud bricks, showing that the city was active during Amenhotep III’s reign, the ninth monarch of the 18th dynasty.
The researchers discovered many neighborhoods after seven months of searching. In the city’s south end, the crew uncovered the remnants of a bakery, which comprised a food processing and cooking area with ovens and pottery storage bins. Because of its size, the kitchen served to a huge clientele, according to the statement.
Archaeologists discovered an administrative and residential zone with larger, neatly-arranged apartments in another, still partially guarded region of the site. With just one access point connecting to the residential sections and interior passageways, the region was enclosed by a zigzag fence, a prevalent architectural feature towards the end of the 18th Dynasty. According to the proclamation, the single entrance served as a security precaution, allowing ancient Egyptians to regulate who entered and departed the metropolis.
Archaeologists unearthed a mud-brick production facility in another location, which was used to build temples and annexes. The researchers recovered seals with King Amenhotep III’s cartouche on these tiles.
A multitude of casting molds for amulets and ornamental items were also discovered, indicating that the area had a thriving temple and tomb decorating manufacturing line.
Archaeologists discovered artifacts connected to industrial activities, such as spinning and weaving, all across the region. Metal and glass-making slag were also uncovered, although the workshop where these items were made has yet to be located.
There have been several graves discovered, including two rare cow or bull burials and a unique human burial with spread arms to the side and a rope tied over the legs. Scholars are now investigating these burials to learn more about what happened to them and what they symbolize.
The crew just unearthed a jar containing around 22 pounds (10 kilos) of dry or cooked meat. According to the inscription on this jar, dressed beef from the slaughterhouse of the stockyard of Kha was cooked by the butcher luwy for the third Heb Sed festival in the year 37.
The researchers noted in a statement that “this crucial evidence not only provides us with the names of two persons who lived and worked in the capital but also demonstrates that the city was active throughout King Amenhotep III’s co-regency with his son Akhenaten.” A mud seal with the words “gm pa Aton,” which means “the kingdom of the glittering Aten,” the name of a temple established by King Akhenaten at Karnak, was also uncovered.
The capital was shifted to Amarna one year after this pot was created, according to historical records. This was ordered by Akhenaten, who was famous for ordering his people to worship just one god, Aten, the sun god. Egyptologists also disagree over whether he relocated the capital and whether the Golden City was abandoned at the time. According to the statement, it’s also unknown if the city was repopulated when King Tut returned to Thebes and restored it as a religious center.
More research might disclose more about the city’s turbulent past. And there’s still a lot of ground to cover. “We shall proclaim that the city stretches all the way to Deir el-Medina,” Hawass remarked, referring to an ancient worker’s town where the craftsmen and artists who erected the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens dwelt.
Furthermore, towards the north, archaeologists discovered a vast cemetery that has yet to be fully explored. So far, the team has uncovered a set of rock-cut tombs that can only be accessed through rock-cut steps, a characteristic that can also be found in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Nobles.
Archaeologists aim to explore these graves in the next months to learn more about the people who lived there and the artifacts they found.