Ancient city, second largest to Tutankhamun, discovered in Egypt

Daniel Fowler
April 11, 2021

Hawass said that many foreign expeditions searched for this city and never found it.

He said the find was the largest ancient city, known as Aten, ever uncovered in Egypt.

People continued to use the "Golden City" during Amenhotep III's co-regency with his son, Amenhotep IV (who later changed his name to Akhenaten), as well as during the rule of Tut and the pharaoh who followed him, known as Ay.

Photo taken on April 8, 2021 shows a pottery vessel unearthed at the "Lost Gold City" in Luxor, Egypt.

"The city's streets are flanked by houses", some with walls up to 10 feet (3 meters) high, Hawass said.

The city dates back to the reign of Amenhotep III. The objective was to find Tutankhamun's Mortuary Temple.

Tutankhamun's successor, king Ay, built his temple on a site which was later adjoined on its southern side by Rameses III's temple at Medinet Habu.

"The excavation started in September 2020 and within weeks, to the team's great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions", Egypt's antiquities ministry said in a statement. The team soon realized that they had unearthed a large city that was in relatively good shape.

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What's more, the "layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday", the statement explains.

As Mia Alberti and Jack Guy report for CNN, the team found an inscription in So'oud Atun dated to 1337 B.C., just one year before Akhenaten established his capital at Amarna.

"We found three major districts: one for administration, one for workers to sleep in and another for industry", he said. They even found a bakery that has ovens and storage pottery. The kitchen is large, so it likely catered to a large clientele, according to the statement.

This area is fenced in by a zigzag wall, with only one access point leading to internal corridors and residential areas. The third area is the workshop. In the industrial quarters were found buildings that could have been used for making jewellery, where casting moulds for amulets and delicate pieces were discovered. This is further evidence of the extensive activity in the city to produce decorations for both temples and tombs. Archeologists also found human remains that were visible to reporters and visitors on Saturday. Investigations are underway to determine the nature and objective of this practice. For example, they found two burial spots - of a cow and a bull - inside the rooms, the goal of which is not immediately clear. The location and position of this skeleton are rather odd, and more investigations are in progress. But was it? And why?

The researchers hope the discovery of the Rise of Aten will help them find out if Tutankhamun repopulated the Rise of Aten during his reign, after Akhenaten abandoned it for Amarna.

As such, along with the famed settlement of Deir-El Medina, the city's discovery can provide archaeologists with a glimpse of daily life activities in ancient times.

Jose Galan, head of a separate Spanish archaeological mission near the Valley of the Kings, told AFP today that the site was "a fantastic discovery".

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