Pi-Ramesses (also called Per Ramessu) was the designated Egyptian royal capital under the rule of Ramses II (circa 13th century BC), by virtue of the military potential of the site. Encompassing modern-day Qantīr, the ruins are situated around 62 miles northeast of Cairo, with the original settlement being founded on the Bubastite branch of the Nile River. And now researchers from Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum (in Hildesheim, Germany) have made fascinating discoveries within the parameters of the ancient site, including what is described as a “monumental” building complex and mortar pit still preserving its fair share of children’s footprints.
According to Mahmoud Afifi, the head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at Egypt’s antiquities ministry, the aforementioned building complex measured an impressive 200 x 160 m (32,000 sq m or 344,000 sq ft), which is equivalent of around six American football fields. Furthermore, the preliminary analysis of this ancient ‘compound’ alludes to the presence of the layout of a palace.
As for the current excavation scope, it is almost a race against time for the archaeologists, with their focus on the grounds in proximity to the edges of Qantir. The modern village is expanding quite rapidly in the direction, which in turn is endangering the bevy of antiquities preserved by the ruins. To that end, the researchers have already covered an area of 200 sq m, with an aim to locate the potential entrance to the monumental building, possibly situated on its north-western corner (as opposed to the typical axis of the complex layout). Additionally, they have also dug a small trench along the area believed to have supported the enclosure wall.
The latter action has clearly fetched some promising results. According to mission director, Henning Franzmeier, the level just beneath 2 cm of ground surface has revealed what seems to a network of walls. And while the stratigraphy is dense and the structural components are relatively well preserved, some of the walls were clearly built during different centuries, though all pertaining to the extensive Pharaonic period.
And lastly, as we fleetingly mentioned before, the archaeologists also uncovered a mortar pit of around 215 sq ft area, with its bottom surface bearing the preserved footprints of children. These incredible discovery was complemented by a ‘filling’ of the pit consisting of smashed pieces of painted wall plaster. The researchers are looking forth to conserve most of these pieces and then reconstruct the motifs, which in turn would provide more valuable insights into the cultural scope of the ancient Egyptian site.
Source: Ahram / Images Credit: Peramses Mission