The remains of what is believed to be one of the lost sun temples dating back about 4,500 years during the middle part of the 25th century BCE has been unearthed by archaeologists in Egypt. The structure was found buried underneath another temple located at Abu Ghurab.
This isn’t the first sun temple that has been found. In fact, it is thought that a total of six sun temples were constructed around Abu Ghurab; however, only two had been previously discovered. Back in 1898, the sun temple of Nyuserra (also called Neuserre or Nyuserre) – the sixth king of the 5th dynasty – was found by archaeologists at the same site as the recently discovered one. It is now believed that the Nyuserra temple was built over an older one.
In an email to CNN, Massimiliano Nuzzolo, who is the mission’s co-director as well as an assistant professor of Egyptology at the Polish Academy of Sciences' Institute for Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures in Warsaw, went into further details, “The archaeologists of the 19th century excavated only a very small part of this mud bricks building below the stone temple of Nyuserra and concluded that this was a previous building phase of the same temple,” adding, “Now our finds demonstrate that this was a completely different building, erected before Nyuserra.” (The dig is a joint mission by the Polish Academy of Sciences as well as the University of Naples L'Orientale.)
The researchers found several items that seem to prove that the sun temple was much older than the one of Nyuserra. These artifacts, which contained engravings of kings who ruled prior to Nyuserra, included seals for jar stoppers, a limestone threshold, and the bases of two limestone columns that would have been located at the entrance.
Additional items found at the site included dozens of beer jars with some of them still containing mud that was used during ancient religious rituals. Furthermore, the jars date back one or two generations prior to when Nyuserra was alive.
As for the temple itself, it was constructed with mud bricks and was “...impressive in size” as described by Nuzzolo. It was later destroyed in order for Nyuserra to have his temple built which was bigger and made with stones.
Now that the latest sun temple has been unearthed, researchers are hoping to figure out which former king had it built. And by analyzing the pottery that was found there, they will hopefully learn more about those who inhabited the area during ancient times, such as their beliefs and what types of food they feasted on.
Pictures of the ancient sun temple and some of the artifacts can be viewed here.