(dpa) – An expedition of Egyptian archaeologists has unearthed a 3,000-year-old “lost city” in present-day Luxor, a discovery that is being described as one of the most important finds in Egypt since Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922.
The ancient city dates to the era of the Eighteenth Dynasty’s king Amenhotep III, who ruled the country from 1391 to 1353 BC, said prominent Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass, who led the expedition.
“Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it,” Hawass, a former antiquities affairs minister, said in an online statement Thursday.
“The Egyptian expedition was surprised to discover the largest city ever found in Egypt,” he added.
The city was the largest administrative and industrial settlement in the era of the Egyptian empire on the western bank of Luxor, according to Hawass.
“The city’s streets are flanked by houses, which some of their walls are up to 3 metres high,” Hawass said.
A large number of archaeological finds, including rings, scarabs, coloured pottery vessels, and mud bricks bearing seals of king Amenhotep III, confirmed the dating of the city.
The statement quoted Betsy Brian, a professor of Egyptology at John Hopkins University in the United States, as saying: “The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun.”
The excavation started in September 2020 searching for the mortuary temple of Tutankhamun.
“To the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions. 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,” Hawass said.
Two unusual burials of a cow or bull were found inside one of the rooms. Investigations are under way to determine the nature and purpose of this practice.
“The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday,” the statement said.
Egypt has in recent years announced a string of archaeological discoveries in an attempt to revive its battered tourism industry, a main source of national income.
Last week, Egypt paraded on Cairo’s streets 22 ancient royal mummies in a high-profile procession that marked their transfer from their long residence at the Egyptian Museum in iconic Tahrir Square to a new Cairo museum.
Egypt’s tourism industry has been hit by unrest since the 2011 uprising against long-time ruler Hosny Mubarak as well as the global pandemic.