The New Kingdom of Egypt, roughly corresponding to the period between 16th century BC and the 11th century BC (encompassing the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties of Egypt), is often viewed as the Ancient Egyptian equivalent of an empire. And while such a perception is simplistic, especially given the complex political climate of the time, there is no doubt that during the New Kingdom phase, Egypt reached its greatest territorial extent. And now, the historical legacy of this ancient Egyptian period is conveyed by new findings at the Gebel el-Silsila archaeological site in Aswan. To that end, a Lund University excavation team, comprising both Swedish and Egyptian archaeologists, has discovered a sandstone workshop and various sculptural pieces – mostly dating from the New Kingdom era of the 18th Dynasty.
The ‘star’ of the discoveries pertains to an imposing ram-headed sphinx in the workshop section, with its substantial dimensions of 16.4 ft (length) x 11.5 ft (height) x 5 ft (width). The design of the sculpture was found somewhat to be similar to the ram-headed sphinxes found in proximity to the Khonsu Temple at Karnak. Furthermore, the researchers have also discovered the remnants of a roughly-cut uraeus (rearing-cobra motif on ancient Egyptian headdresses) embedded along a wall of the workshop. This object was possibly furnished to serve as a crown for the
According to Abdel Moneim Saeed, Director General of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, the archaeologists had additionally unearthed hundreds of fragments from a Naos (Shrine) of Amenhotep III (Naos E), all inscribed with hieroglyphs. Other fragments recovered from the area include that of a falcon sculpture, pieces of an obelisk (with its pyramidion), and a stela with a round-top design.
Interestingly enough, archaeologists have also discovered a piece of a smaller ram-headed sphinx in the area, which was probably the work of an apprentice. In any case, the hypothesis relates to how all of these sculptural works with their rough-cuts were prepared to be transported but were finally abandoned after the larger sphinx broke. After more than a millennium, these incredible art pieces were further buried due to the Roman quarrying activity in the area.
Images Source: Gebel el-Silsila Project 2019