Hidden under the desert sands of Egypt for three millennia, a group of Egyptian archaeologists recently made a stunning discovery: the ruins of what they call the “Lost Golden City.”
This Egyptian city dates back to over 3,400 years under Amenhotep III’s reign, the ninth king who ruled ancient Egypt during its golden period of prosperity in the 18th dynasty.
It is believed to be the largest city of the Egyptian empire and the most important archaeological find since King Tutankhamun’s tomb nearly a century ago.
The former Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, Dr. Zahi Hawass, said that many foreign missions have searched for this city but never found it.
Last September, Dr. Hawass was leading an Egyptian team to search for Tutankhamun’s mortuary temple when his team found the lost city. The excavation area is near Luxor, between the temples of Rameses III and Amenhotep III.
To the group’s surprise, formations of mud bricks began to emerge in all directions during their quest.
“What they unearthed was the site of a large city in a good condition of preservation, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools of daily life. The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday,” said Dr. Hawass.
Salima Ikram, a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, described the discovery as “mindblowing.”
“It’s very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii,” she said.
The team was able to date the settlement based on hieroglyphic inscriptions found on clay caps of wine vessels and mud bricks that had seals of King Amenhotep III’s cartouche.
They also discovered several neighborhoods during the first seven months of excavations, including a bakery complete with ovens and storage pottery.
The archaeologists were also treated to a rare glimpse into ancient Egyptian life when they found jewelry, pottery vessels, scarab beetle amulets, and tools for spinning, weaving, and other daily activities.
This Egyptian city was the largest administrative and industrial settlement during ancient Egypt’s peak power in the 18th dynasty.
It extends west, “all the way to the famous Deir el-Medina,” Dr. Hawass said. This village was home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
An area with well-arranged units was fenced by a zigzag wall and only had a single access point that led to internal corridors and residential areas.
Dr. Hawass believes it was some sort of security that allowed the people back then to control entry and exit to enclosed spaces.
Another surprising discovery includes the skeleton of a cow or bull found in one of the rooms.
“And even more remarkable burial of a person found with arms outstretched to his side, and remains of a rope wrapped around his knees,” Dr. Hawass said.
“The location and position of this skeleton are rather odd, and more investigations are in progress.”
The discovery of this ancient Egyptian city may also help archaeologists and historians find the answers to why Akhenaten and Nefertiti decide to move to Amarna, one of history’s greatest mysteries.
A valuable clue has already been found in some of Dr. Hawass’s discoveries, like a pottery vessel inscribed with “Year 37,” which confirms that the city was active during King Amenhotep III’s co-regency with his son Akhenaten.
One year after that pot was made, the city was abandoned, and the capital was moved to Amarna. Archaeologists want to confirm if it was indeed relocated and what was the reason behind it.
“Only further excavations of the area will reveal what truly happened 3,500 years ago,” Dr. Hawass said.
Indeed, Egypt still has a lot of surprises. We’ll stay tuned for further developments on this amazing discovery.