Keeping up with Cairo: Egypt announces a slew of ancient discoveries

Keeping up with Cairo: Egypt announces a slew of ancient discoveries
Egypt has announced a slew of archaeological discoveries over the past few weeks, which it is hoped will deepen our understanding of the country's ancient past.
3 min read
08 March, 2023
Egypt's tourism sector raked in $10.75 billion in the financial year ending in June 2022 [Getty]

There has been a recent frenzy of archaeological discoveries in Egypt, from centuries-old hidden corridors to a smiley sphinx. 

Hailed by archaeologists and Egyptologists, each ancient revelation brings with it the prospect of greater knowledge and understanding of Cairo's rich and varied past. 

And, of course, for international audiences already enamoured by ancient Egypt, the findings offer yet more reason to visit the country, heavily reliant on tourism but plagued by a crippling financial crisis. 

Smiling Sphinx 

On Monday, archaeologists in Egypt announced the discovery of a sphinx-like statue of a Roman emperor, with a smile and dimples, and the remains of a shrine. 

The artefacts were found in the temple of Dendera, around 280 miles south of Cairo, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said. 

It is thought the statue’s grinning features are modelled on Roman Emperor Claudius, Mamdouh Damati, a former minister of archaeology and professor of archaeology at Ain Shams University, said in a press release. 

The discovery will add significantly to what we know about the history of Egyptian civilization in the Greek and Roman ages, archaeologists said. 

A Roman-era stone slab with hieroglyphic inscriptions was also found, alongside a limestone shrine and mud-brick basin from the Byzantine era. 

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Hidden corridor in Great Pyramid of Giza 

On 2 March, a hidden corridor nine metres long was unveiled close to the main entrance of the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza. 

The finding came as a result of the Scan Pyramids project, which used non-invasive technology, such as infrared thermography to search the site since 2015. 

The discovery is expected to widen knowledge about the construction of the pyramid and its main entrance, said an article published in the journal Nature. 

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Oldest mummy ever found

On 26 January, excavations in Egypt uncovered what is suspected to be the oldest mummy ever found in the country, Egyptologists announced. 

The excavation took place near the Saqqara Pyramids, 19 miles outside of Cairo, and revealed the existence of several ancient tombs dating back to the Old Kingdom, from 2,686 to 2,181 BC. 

One of the tombs contained a limestone sarcophagus with a 4,300-year-old mummy inside, said Zahi Hawass, director of the team and a former minister of antiquities. 

Several statues and amulets were also discovered in the tomb. 

A treasure trove of 250 artefacts 

Last year, archaeologists in Egypt discovered the "largest cache of 150 bronze statues" and 250 coffins containing mummies which date back 2,500 years. 

The artefacts were found at an ancient burial ground, the necropolis of Saqqara.

Mostafa El-Waziri, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters they found statues of Ancient Egyptian deities including Bastet, Anubis, Osiris, Amunmeen, Isis, Nefertum, and Hathor. 

One of the highlights of the discovery, he said, was the "first intact papyrus in over 100 years" which may contain verses of the Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian funeral text.