CAIRO, July 11, 2014 — On July 2, 2014 an Egyptian excavation team from the Ministry of Antiquities and Heritage (MAH) discovered a well preserved limestone ancient Egyptian chapel that dates back to the 11th Dynasty. As the team deciphered the hieroglyphic text on the chapel’s wall, they recognized clearly the name of king Mentohotep II, the first pharaoh to rule Egypt during the Middle Kingdom. Mentohotep ruled for 51 years. During his reign he ordered the construction of many temples especially in Upper Egypt. However, few survived.
This discovery is significant in itself, but is also of importance because it could lead to more discoveries.
Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim told Al- Ahram on-line that the site which includes limestone blocks “could house a great Middle Kingdom temple” He added that huge blocks found each 1.5 meter in diameter, could be the foundation or base of a temple.
The famous temple of Abydos, which is considered as one of the highlights of Egyptian monuments, is located to the west of El-Baliana, a town in Sohag Governorate. It was built by King Seti I and his son the famous king Ramsis II and was later continued by king Mernptah the grandson. Originally, the temple of Abydos had a large Pylon as parts of the rituals were performed in the temple.
Abydos was known also as a historical cemetery where many tombs of kings were built. Some date back to more than 5000 years to the first and second dynasties. Kings referred to Abydos as a sacred place where the “Osirion” or the head of Osiris was buried.
The Osirion is an enigmatic structure which is completely built out of granite. Pilgrimage and rituals were often performed there.
Abydos is known as one of the most impressive sites in Egypt as it houses lists of kings as well as the finest reliefs which depicts key scenes of the important offerings, rituals and prayers of utmost importance in the Ancient Egyptian belief.
The temple contains 7 shrines dedicated to 7 key gods and goddesses: Osiris, Isis, Horus, Amon Ra, Ra-Horakhty, Hathor and Ptah. The scenes are of the highest standard depicting in colors the myth of Osiris.
Commenting on the recent discovery of King Mentohotep II chapel, Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh El- Damaty said to Al- Ahram on-line “it is a very important discovery that will reveal more of the history of the area.”