Archaeologists recently discovered a 3,000-year-old city buried in the sands of Egypt. What’s even more amazing is that the city — named Aten, or The Rise of Aten — is the largest ancient city ever discovered in Egypt.
Aten is believed to have been founded by Amenhotep III, who ruled the country from 1391 to 1353 B.C., and was then used by the pharaohs Tutankhamun and Ay, explained the mission’s lead archaeologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass, in a statement. It is believed that the city “was the largest administrative and industrial settlement in the era of the Egyptian empire on the western bank of Luxor,” wrote Hawass.
“The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun,” Betsy Bryan, an Egyptology professor at Johns Hopkins University and member of the mission, said in the statement. Its discovery, she added, “will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the ancient Egyptians” at a time when the empire was at its wealthiest.
The Archaeological Dig
Many foreign archaeological missions have searched — unsuccessfully — for Aten. This team began excavations on the west bank of Luxor, about 300 miles south of Cairo, because the temples of both Horemheb and Ay were found nearby, the statement explains.
“Within weeks, to the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions,” Hawass wrote. “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.”
Now, seven months after the dig started, several of the city’s neighborhoods have been uncovered. 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.
An Ancient City
The archaeological finds have been amazing. The team was able to date the settlement based on hieroglyphic inscriptions found on wine vessels. The team also discovered rings, scarabs, pottery, and mud bricks bearing the seals of Amenhotep III’s cartouche, which confirmed the date of the city, according to the statement.
In the southern part of the city, the archaeologists discovered a bakery and a large kitchen complete with ovens and pottery to store food. They also found an administrative and residential district fenced in by a zigzag wall that only had one entrance, which suggests it was to provide security, the statement explains.
To the north of the city, the team discovered a large cemetery. Work to determine its extent has not been started yet.
“Only further excavations of the area will reveal what truly happened 3500 years ago,” the statement explains. “Work is underway and the mission expects to uncover untouched tombs filled with treasures.”