Cairo, Jan 17 : Egyptian archaeologists have made several important discoveries at the Karnak temple in Luxor, which might lead to reconsideration of the history and landscape of the site.
A report in Al-Ahram Weekly states that the findings, which emerged after 18 months of excavation at the front of the temple, include a Ptolemaic ceremonial bath, a private ramp for the 25th-Dynasty Pharaoh Taharqa, a large number of bronze coins, an ancient dock and the remains of a wall that once protected the temples of Karnak from the rising Nile flood.
Another important discovery was of a sandstone embankment wall built some 3,000 years ago to reinforce the bank of the river, which has since moved.
This wall has generally been interpreted as the eastern limit of a huge lake dug in front of the sanctuary and linked to the river by a channel.
Accoridng to Mansour Boraik, general supervisor of antiquities in Luxor, the discovery of the embankment had changed the thinking about the features of the temple's ancient fa§ade.
Previous theories, based on depictions found in several 18th- Dynasty private tombs, were based on the view that Karnak Temple was linked to the Nile by a canal through a rectangular pool dug in front of the temple.
This theory held until December 2007, when Egyptian excavators found another part of the same wall several metres away from the first. Archaeologists now believe that the pool depicted in ancient drawings was backfilled in ancient times and that the temple was expanded on top of it, built out to the edge of where the Nile flowed 3,000 years ago. "It is a very important discovery that changes the landscape of the whole of Luxor city," Boraik told Al-Ahram Weekly.
This will also allow excavations to uncover the ancient harbour and canal that once connected the temple to the Nile.
According to an old map, the ancient Egyptians used this canal to gain access to the west bank of the river in a position corresponding to Hatshepsut's Deir Al-Bahari Temple, which was built on the same axis. Among other discoveries, a number of Ptolemaic clay pots and pans were unearthed during excavations, among them a large jar containing 360 bronze coins dating from the Ptolemaic and Byzantine eras. One of the most important discoveries in the area was the remains of a great circular Ptolemaic bath (dated 2nd century BC) with an intricate mosaic tiled floor and seating for 16 people, with some seats flanked by dolphin statuettes.
According to Egyptologist Tareq Al-Awadi , director of the Abusir archaeological site, archaeologists had also found a giant ramp leading up to the temple complex and inscribed with the name of Pharaoh Taharqa , who ruled in the late seventh century BC.
The ramp probably served as the ruler's personal dock area, extending directly into the Nile to allow the Pharaoh to transfer directly from his boat to the temple.