Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Unique Egyptian Temple Complex Volume 53 Number 2, March/April 2000
by Chris Hellier

Five temples, the earliest dating to ca. 3100 B.C., have been uncovered beneath the remains of a large Middle Kingdom (ca. 2000 B.C.) temple at Tel Ibrahim Awad in the eastern Nile Delta. Dutch archaeologists led by Willem M. van Haarlem of the Netherlands Foundation for Archaeological Research in Egypt say the ground plan of the earliest temple is unlike anything previously discovered in Egypt, and no sites are known with a similar series of temples built one on top of the other and which date so far back.

Some 1,000 ritual objects, including a primitive ivory statue, a unique triple pot, and pieces of a ceramic baboon, were recovered from the third oldest temple. Researchers do not yet know which gods were worshiped here, although the baboon may provide information about local deities.

Near the temple complex archaeologists also excavated an intact First Dynasty tomb (ca. 3000 B.C.), which produced a wealth of stone and bronze vessels as well as pottery. Traces of an adjacent settlement, dating to the Pre-Dynastic Period (ca. 5000-3000 B.C.), have also come to light. Van Haarlem plans to investigate a cemetery to the east of the main site containing 50 tombs from various periods.

© 2000 by the Archaeological Institute of America