Archaeologists discover buried wall around the Sphinx

Archaeologists excavating at the Sphinx have discovered a 3,400 year-old wall around the famous monument.

The wall was built by the pharaoh Thutmose IV (reigned c. 1401-1391 BC) who had a dream in which the Sphinx told him it was choking on sand. The Sphinx itself was probably built during the reign of the pharaoh Khafra (c. 2558-2532 BC), who also built one of the nearby pyramids at Giza.

The archaeologists also found part of a settlement believed to have been for priests tending the cult of Khafra. Egyptian pharaohs were worshiped as gods and had temples dedicated to them. Some Roman Emperors also had mortuary cults and temples.

Now a modern wall is going up around Giza. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the number one tourist draw in the country, the Supreme Council of Egypt wants to keep away artifact hunters as well as the pushy touts who are one of the few downsides to a trip to Egypt.

[Photo courtesy LadyExpat via Gadling’s flickr pool]


Ancient Egyptian tomb discovered

A priest’s tomb that’s more than 4,000 years old has been discovered near the pyramids of Giza, Egypt. Egyptian archaeologists say the tomb belonged to a priest named Rwd-ka from the Fifth Dynasty (2494-2345 BC), a time in the Old Kingdom when religion was undergoing major changes, including the elevation in importance of the sun god Ra, and the development of the Pyramid Texts, which later developed into the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Rwd-ka would have been at the forefront of these changes, since one of his duties was to say prayers for the dead pharaohs.

Not much is known about Rwd-ka. His tomb contains rich carvings of countryside scenes as well as the priest and his wife before a table of offerings to the gods, perhaps similar to the scene above from a tomb at Saqqara.

The discovery was part of ongoing excavations in the area and just the latest in a string of recent successes for Egyptologists.

[Photo courtesy the Egypt Archive]


Dinner at Egypt’s Pyramids for Less Than $10,000

If you’re rich, obsessed with food, and interested in ancient cultures, this is the chance of a lifetime. The same folks that brought you the $25,000 dinner are flying in the world’s top chefs to cook a meal in front of the ancient Pyramids of Giza.

This is part of a series of dinners titled “Epicurean Masters of the World.”

The pyramid feast will be less than $10,000 per person — a price that pales in comparison to last month’s 25-grand-a-head meal — but will seat 500 instead of only 40. 30 3-star Michelin chefs will each cook for 17 diners using a half-a-mile kitchen set up in front of the pyramids.

All profits from the meal will go to charity, as did those from the $25,000 dinner. This time — potentially in an effort to get UNESCO (the U.N.’s cultural body) to let them closer to architectural wonders — the organizers are considering donating profits to a charity that deals with conserving the Seven Wonders of the World.

The event is set for December 12, 2008, so mark your calendars accordingly.