For a number of years, archaeologists thought that the most of the important finds that Egypt had to offer were found years ago. So, when a team from the Ministry of Antiquities began digging near the ancient city of Abydos, they didn’t think they’d find anything huge.

Early in the dig, they turned up fragments of pottery and tools much like they expected. However, when they began dating the objects, they realized they’d stumbled onto the remnants of a city much, much older than they ever imagined!

Archaeologists working for the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities began a dig in the country’s Sohag region and were pleased when they began to find remnants of pottery and tools. However, when they tried to date the objects, they got a real shock…

egypt-1Flickr / reibai

The things they were finding were the remnants of a city that was over 7,000 years old! What was perhaps most astounding was that this archaeological site was extremely close to the Temple of Seti I but easily predated that structure!

egypt-2Flickr / Michael

At one time, the site had been within the boundaries of the Ancient Egyptian city of Abydos, which had historically been regarded as a holy city. However, the new find indicated that Abydos had likely branched off from this older city.

egypt-4Facebook / Ministry of Antiquities

In addition to the tools and pottery, to date, archaeologists have found 15 grave sites in this ancient city, most of which went relatively undisturbed in the millennia since they were dug. 

egypt-3Facebook / Ministry of Antiquities

The graves were especially notable because they were in “mastabas,” tomb-like structures made of mudbrick, a construction material that was common in areas where the wood for making sturdier bricks was unavailable. 

egypt-5Facebook / Ministry of Antiquities

These mastabas, though, were the oldest ever discovered in Egypt, predating those in the Saqqara necropolis. When the Ministry of Antiquities announced the find, they underscored that this site would tell us a great deal about Egypt’s earliest inhabitants.

egypt-6Wikimedia Commons / Roweromaniak

The University of Liverpool Egyptologist Chris Eyre spoke to the BBC about the age of the grave sites saying, “about a mile behind where this material is said to be, we have the necropolis with royal tombs, going from before history to the period where we start getting royal names, we start getting identifiable kings.”

egypt-7Flickr / bibweb

An important but less talked about aspect of this discovery was that it was one of the first significant archaeological finds that was discovered by an Egyptian team rather than researchers from another country, which had been a problem in the past.

egypt-8Flickr / Robert Fraser

In fact, in recent years the Egyptian government has increasingly voiced its disapproval that foreign governments and museums raided its archaeological sites for so long, and the government has even begun to ask for artifacts back.

egypt-9Flickr / timrich26

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has actually had some success retrieving stolen artifacts. Recently, they got back a black granite panel containing hieroglyphics from Switzerland, as well as a similar engraved slab from the United States.

egypt-10Blogspot / Rain Is Cool

Not only is the discovery of the ancient city a source of national pride, but it has also helped drive tourism in the Sohag region, whereas previously, most tourists stayed in the northern part of Egypt.

egypt-11Flickr / bibiweb

Researchers hope that new information discovered at the ancient site will help shed light on the city of Abydos and the Temple of Seti I, both of which have puzzled a number of Egyptologists over the years.

egypt-12Flickr / reibai

The Temple of Seti I, in particular, has caused many researchers to scratch their heads. It contains hieroglyphics like any number of Ancient Egyptian sites, but its hieroglyphics are just a little bit different…

egypt-13Flickr / bibiweb

Several of the panels on the tomb’s walls appear to depict high-tech machines that would have been unknown to the people making the carvings, including what look like helicopters, submarines, and spacecrafts.

egypt-14Blogspot / Rain Is Cool

Some people hold these hieroglyphics up as evidence of contact with ancient aliens or time travelers, but the vast majority of mainstream scientists dismiss such claims as nothing more than pseudoscience and pseudo-archaeology.

egypt-15Flickr / Ian Gampon

In fact, there are any number of plausible explanations why these carvings might appear to depict something they don’t. The most accepted explanation is that hieroglyphs were often carved over top another if a mistake was made.

egypt-16Flickr / bibiweb

These ancient equivalents of typos and their corrections appear to be a unified glyph to the untrained eye, but to experts who understand hieroglyphics, one part of the carving will make sense as the “correct” one that preserves the flow of the story being told.

egypt-17Flickr / reibai

In this particular case for the Temple of Seti I, it’s believed that some of the more arcane or mysterious glyphs might actually represent the names of pharaohs like Ramses II or Seti I himself.

egypt-18Blogspot / Rain Is Cool

Making sense of the mysterious hieroglyphics in the temple is just one of the many goals Egyptologists hope to be able to achieve based on the newly discovered city, and if what they’ve uncovered so far is any indication, they have a very good chance of doing so!

egypt-19Flickr / Robert Fraser

What an incredible find! There’s no doubt that this long lost city will go a long way toward helping us understand ancient people better!

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