The Roman building at Mit Rhaina, thought to be a residential block, part of the ancient city of Memphis

Discoveries by the Nile

Announcements of finds from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities have peppered 2018, as the government hoped to boost tourism with 'a year of archaeological discoveries'. So far these have included a mummification workshop at the Saqqara necropolis of Memphis, from 664–404 BC; extensive wall-paintings in a tomb of an Old Kingdom priestess near Cairo; a 1500-year-old brewery at Tell Ferkha; a pre-Pharaonic village in the Nile Delta; over 800 4000-year-old tombs at Lisht; a sandstone sphinx and Roman temple at Kom Ombo, Aswan; a Nile Valley necropolis near Minya; and a 2000-year-old 'cursed' black granite sarcophagus in Alexandria.But the biggest story so far is the excavation of a 'massive' Roman building in Mit Rahina, once a residential district in the ancient city of Memphis, 20km south of Cairo. The site is near the open-air Mit Rahina Museum at Giza.

Dr Mostafa Waziri, Egypt's Head of Antiquities, reported that the building, thought to have been a residential block, measures 16m x 14.5m, has four entrances and a number of passages and is built of mud bricks on large limestone blocks, with red brick on its inner staircases and walls. Another building, attached to the southwest side, contains a Roman bath and a ritual chamber, with purification basins and holders for offerings decorated with images depicting the head of the ancient Egyptian god Bes, protector of households.

The village of Mit Rahina contains the only remains of Memphis. Beneath palms, the museum is centred on a colossal fallen limestone statue of Ramses II. Silt from the Nile has covered the ancient capital, which is lost under farmland, but it is hoped that this discovery will lead to further exploration. Announcements of all these finds and discoveries have been made on Facebook (its social medium of choice) by the Ministry of Antiquities during the year. (www.facebook.com.moantiquities)

Roger Williams

 



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