Construction workers in the Egyptian city of Tama (located just north of Sohag on the west bank of the Nile River), were digging for sewer lines when they made an incredible and unexpected discovery. They unearthed a 2,200-year-old carved temple from the time of King Ptolemy IV.
As soon as the temple was found, the construction at the site was halted and archaeologists arrived to study the discovery. Archaeologists have so far uncovered limestone walls and floors, specifically a north-south wall, an east-west wall, and a southwest corner of the temple. The walls contained carvings of Hapi who was the Egyptian god of the annual flooding of the Nile River which allowed Egyptians to successfully grow their crops.
Ptolemy IV, who was the fourth pharaoh of Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty, was also mentioned in texts uncovered on the temple. Egypt was ruled by the Ptolemies from 305 B.C. to 30 B.C. with Cleopatra being the last ruler from the dynasty.
So, who exactly was Ptolemy IV? He was the son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II. His mother Berenice was an accomplished equestrienne who had quite a violent past as she allegedly had her first husband, Demetrius, killed after he cheated on her with her own mother. She was later poisoned by the orders of her son who was at that time her co-ruler. Ptolemy IV then became the new ruler of Egypt from 221 B.C. to 204 B.C.
His reign, however, was not very successful, as historians have described him as enjoying drinking and fooling around more than running the kingdom – so much so that he was said to have given the majority of his work to a priest named Sosibius. His neglect of the kingdom showed, as Ptolemy IV nearly lost the territory of Coele-Syria (a region located in parts of Lebanon and Syria) to the Seleucid Empire. The Egyptian people were not impressed with his leadership (or lack thereof) as they started revolting against the ruler for the remaining five years of his reign.
Arsinoe III (Ptolemy’s wife and sister) gave birth to a son named Ptolemy V Epiphanes in 210 B.C. and just six years later, Ptolemy IV died. Arsinoe III was then murdered and that gave Sosibius and his associates control of the five-year-old Ptolemy V who was now the new ruler. The young ruler died suddenly in 181 B.C. However, before he died, he put three inscriptions of the same text on the famous Rosetta Stone – Greek text and two Egyptian versions (one in hieroglyphics and the other in demotic) which allows archaeologists to now decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Ptolemy IV’s reign may not have been a successful one, but he is still talked about even to this day and now his temple has been discovered. Pictures of his temple can be seen here.