Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Archaeological Blocks Date Back to Khufu's Reign Unearthed in Cairo’s Heliopolis

Mon 13 Jun 2022 | 06:18 PM
Ali Abu Dashish

On Monday, an Egyptian-German archaeological mission unearthed the foundations of the Temple of the Sun and blocks dating back to Khufu's reign at the open-air museum of Matariya, in Cairo’s Heliopolis.

On his part, Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, stressed that the new archaeological discovery has great importance, as it is the first time that antiquities from the reign of King Khufu have been discovered in the Ain Shams area, which may have been parts of an unknown building or may have been transferred from the Giza pyramids area to be used as building materials in the Ramesside era, a period in which the use of stones from the oldest historical buildings became common.

Other discoveries by the mission, headed by Ayman Ashmawy and Dietrich Raue, in the western periphery of the site include the foundations of a courtyard, a pedestal of Amasis (570-525 BC), as well as several altar installations that indicate they were constructed in the Late Period.

Ashmawi said that numerous fragments of statuary, mainly sphinxes recently uncovered, provide evidence for the continuous royal presence in the area by kings Amenemhat II, Sesostris III (1882-1842 BC), Amenemhat III (1842-1795 BC), Amenemhat V (1776-1773 BC), Thutmosis III (1479-1425 BC), Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III, Horemheb (1319-1292 BC), Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC), and Seti II (1204-1198 BC).

He added that longstanding investment in Matariya's Temple of the Sun is evident by the many stele, naos, and altar fragments of Amenemhat IV (1802-1793 BC), Sobekhotep IV (1712-1701 BC), Ay (1323-1319 BC), Seti I (1290-1279 BC), Osorkon I (925-890 BC), Takeloth I (890-877 BC), and Psametik I (664-610 BC).

Fragments of a quartzite model with miniature sphinxes by Amenhotep II and a base of a colossal baboon statue of red granite were also unearthed. All fragments were discovered in various debris layers belonging to Roman, Late Roman, Early Islamic, Mamluk and Ottoman periods.

“For the first time fragments of the Fourth Dynasty king Khufu (c. 2580 BC) were found in Heliopolis,” said Raue, adding that they may belong to a hitherto unknown building precinct of Khufu at Matariya, or they could have been brought from the pyramid district at Giza as building material during the Ramesside Period.

“Excavation work also provided additional evidence for the earlier history of the area,” asserted Raue, pointing out that several layers of Dynasty Zero (Naqada IIIB) (c. 3100-3000 BC) have been identified.

Vast layers of pottery debris indicate ritual activities in the earlier third millennium BC as well as an intense distribution activity during the third and fourth dynasties (c. 2686-2494 BC). Old Kingdom activity is also confirmed by a red granite fragment of Pepy I (c. 2280 BC) with the depiction of Horus, he pointed out.

Translated by Hassanain Tayea