Egypt’s tourism and antiquities ministry said Sunday that archaeologists discovered more than 2,000 ancient mummified sheep heads left as offerings in a temple to Pharaoh Ramses II.
A team of US archaeologists from New York University excavated mummies of dogs, goats, cows, gazelles, and mongooses at Abydos, a site in southern Egypt famous for its temples and tombs.
Head of the American mission, Sameh Iskandar, said the ram heads were “offerings” indicating “a cult to Ramses II celebrated 1,000 years after his death”. Ramses II reigned over Egypt for nearly seven decades, from 1304 to 1237 BC.
Head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri said the finds will help people know more about the temple of Ramses II and the activities which took place there from its construction between 2374 and 2140 BC and the Ptolemaic period, from 323 to 30 BC.
Archaeologists discovered the remains of a palace with five-metre-thick (16-foot) walls dating back 4,000 years, in addition to the remains of mummified animals. They also discovered several statues, papyri, the ancient tree remains, leather clothing, and shoes. Abydos, located 435 kilometres (270 miles) south of Cairo on the Nile River, is famous for its temples, including that of Seti I, as well as its necropolises.
Cairo announces new archaeological discoveries on a regular basis, which some argue are made for political and economic impact rather than scientific or historic significance.
Egypt, which has 105 million people, is in an economic slump and relies on tourism for 10% of its GDP, employing two million people. Cairo hopes to resurrect tourism by 2028, with a target of 30 million visitors per year, up from 13 million before the coronavirus pandemic. However, some archaeological sites and museums are in disrepair, according to critics.
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