Egyptologists have made a stunning discovery at the famous temple of Luxor: an inscription naming a previously unknown Egyptian pharaoh.
A French team restoring a temple of Amon Ra found hieroglyphs bearing the name “Nekht In Ra.” The inscription dates to the 17th dynasty, a relatively little-known dynasty from a murky period in Egyptian history.
The mysterious dynasty was the last of the Second Intermediate Period, a time when northern Egypt was ruled by Semitic invaders called the Hyksos and the rest of Egypt had fragmented into various factions. The 17th dynasty dated from around 1585 to 1550 BC and had their capital at Thebes, next to Luxor. Most of the dates of its rulers are not known for certain and in many cases it’s not even known how long they ruled or who was related to whom. Thus the discovery of a “new” pharaoh, while important, doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
It’s unclear just how Nekht In Ra fits into the king list of the ten previously known 17th dynasty pharaohs. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has called for further excavation at the discovery site to find more pieces to the puzzle.
While the 17th dynasty is obscure, it was hugely important to Egyptian history because the last two pharaohs waged war on the Hyksos and eventually defeated them, although both pharaohs appear to have died in battle. The 18th dynasty marked the beginning of the New Kingdom, a flowering of Egyptian culture and power that lasted five centuries.
Several interesting items survive from the 17th dynasty and are now on display. Check out the gallery for a sample.
Photo of entrance into the Precinct of Amon-Re courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
A 3000 year old statue of Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III has been discovered near his funeral temple in Luxor. The double statue, which depicts the rular seated next to the Thebian god Amun, stands more than four feet in height and three feet in width. While Amun’s head is no longer in place however, the face of the pharaoh is unmistakable. The statue shows him seated upon a throne and wearing the traditional double crown which signified his dominance over both Upper and Lower Egypt.
Amenhotep III is thought to have ruled during Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, sometime between 1388 and 1351 BC. He is believed to be the wealthiest of all the ancient pharaohs and his funerary temple demonstrated those riches by it’s sheer size. The temple in his honor was more than 700 meters in length and 500 meters in width, with the eastern ended marked by the Colossi of Memnon, two of the better known, and often visited, statues in the Luxor region. At the time of its construction, it was one of the largest religious structures in the entire world.
The statue, which is made out of limestone, is similar to another that was discovered at the temple earlier this year. That one was carved out of granite and depicted Amenhotep seated next to Thoth, the god of wisdom. The massive sculpture was more than 2.5 meters in height and is thought to be the best preserved likeness of the pharaoh that has been discovered to date.
The archeology team that discovered this latest find is focused on finishing the excavation of the statue, but they haven’t ruled out the possibility of even more discoveries either. These two major finds came about because of an ongoing restoration project that is expected to take up to twenty years to complete and will likely reveal even more wonders of this impressive ruler.
[Photo credit: the SCA]