The ancient Egyptian region of Aswan is known for its veritable archaeological legacy, with recent excavations revealing the oldest known royal complex at Tell Edfu (dating from 24th century BC) and a plethora of artifacts at the Ptolemaic Kom Ombo temple (dating from circa 180-47 BC). Well, this time around, beyond and Egyptian and Greek legacies, the remnants of a sandstone temple of Roman origins have been uncovered at the Kom Al- Rasras site in Aswan, possibly dating from the 2nd century AD. Excavated by the researchers and associated trainees at Egyptian Excavation Field School, the structure was found to bear the cartouches (hieroglyphs for royal names) of various Roman emperors, like Domitian (81-96 AD), Hadrian (117-138 AD) and Antonius Pius (138-161 AD).
Among the ruins of the almost 1900-year old structure, archaeologists were able to discover the main sanctuary of this Roman temple. This spatial scope was found to have three separate chambers that lead to a cross-sectional hall. This hall, in turn, connects to yet another hall with an access ramp (made of sandstone). This inner hall had the remains of a stone-engraving that probably depicted the stars in the sky, and thus possibly formed the ceiling of the chamber.
Interestingly enough, the researchers have hypothesized that this particular temple was possibly connected to the Gebel el Silsila (also known as Khenu or ‘Rowing Place’ in Egyptian), the famed ancient sandstone quarries of Egypt, north of Aswan. To that end, the archaeologists did identify one of the engraved stone blocks marked with the name Khenu, which suggests that the site in itself might have served as a small residential settlement for the workers at the ancient quarry.
And lastly, the recent excavation project also aptly showcased the potential of archaeological training schools. As the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities Facebook page made it clear –
Dr. Bassem Gehad, Assistant to the Minister of Antiquities for Human Resources and training said that this is the first Egyptian excavation field school to be created. Such schools come within the framework of the Ministry of Antiquities to establish a number of Egyptian field schools in order to develop the skills of junior archaeologists in several archaeological domains among them the excavation, documentation restoration and site management, through the implementation of a number of lectures and fieldwork. He pointed out that the Ministry has established four similar training centers in Alexandria, Upper Egypt, Giza and South-Sinai and is scheduled to establish six more schools to cover all Egypt. The Al-Rasras field school started its training work in January 2018 where 16 archaeologists from Sohag, Qena, Luxor, and Aswan have been trained.
All Images Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities