Coincidence has always played a major role in the discovery of great ancient Egyptian treasure. Among famous examples are the uncovering of the tomb of Tutankhamun in Luxor, the funerary collection of King Kufu’s mother Hetep Heres, the pyramids builders’ cemetery at the Giza plateau and the Valley of the Golden Mummies in Bahariya Oasis.
This time coincidence led to the discovery of a cachet of King Amenhotep III (1410–1372 BC) statues along with numerous ancient Egyptian deities.
During a routine excavation on the northern side of the King Amenhotep III mortuary temple to uncover the ruins of the funerary complex, which was once the largest temple in ancient Egypt, Egyptian excavators unearthed two red granite statuary fragments of the king and god Hapi, one of the four sons of Horus.
The first newly discovered artefact is a fragmrnt of a larger statue of King Amenhotep III, which features two legs that each measure 30 centimetres tall. The second is a 2.73 metre tall head of Hapi depicted with a baboon face.
Sadly, during the Late Period, the temple was destroyed and its blocks reused in the construction of other temples.
“This is the fifth statue to be found in six months featuring King Amenhotep III accompanied with different ancient Egyptian gods," Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) told Ahram Online.
In the past two archaeological seasons, five double statues of King Amenhotep III accompanied by the deities Re-Horakhti, Khepri, Horus, and Hapi have been found.
Hawass continues: “Due to the large number of statues found in this area, I believe that the northern side of the temple may have served as a burial spot for broken and damaged statues following the destruction of the temple in the aftermath of a strong earthquake that hit Egypt during the late ancient period.”
Because the statuary were ritually significant they could not be destroyed; instead, Hawass believes that the ancient Egyptians gathered the fallen statues and buried them in a cache beside the temple.
Abdel Ghaffar Wagdi, supervisor of the excavation team, said that excavators are working now on uncovering more statues from the agricultural land surrounding Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple. Excavation is now focused on unearthing the rest of the statuary fragments.