Blocks from royal colossi, huge New Kingdom mud brick wall uncovered in Matariya

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 3 Dec 2019


An Egyptian-German archaeological mission working at Heliopolis Temple in Matariya has uncovered a number of blocks from royal colossi and a huge mud brick wall from the New Kingdom during its 13th excavation season.

The mission is run by the Ministry of Antiquities, the Georg Steindorff Egyptian Museum of the University of Leipzig, and the Applied Sciences Mainz University.

Aymen Ashmawi, head of the ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, said that the excavation focused on the southwestern sector of the precinct, where a small graveyard dating to the 11th century was discovered in April 2019.

Large layers of debris close to an enclosure wall from the New Kingdom contained fragments of a Middle Kingdom royal statuary as well as a variety of moulds for the manufacturing of faience amulets and fragments of reused capitals of palm columns dating to the Old Kingdom.


“It came as a surprise that these layers directly overlay a stratum of the prehistoric settlement of Heliopolis,” Ashmawi told Ahram Online.

Three trenches yielded evidence of very early mud brick architecture as well as a type of brewery known from Tell Farkha and other sites.

They also included numerous lithic artefacts and their debitage, as well as an abundance of pottery from the transitional period from the Lower Egyptian culture, which show signs of contact with the Naqada Culture of Upper Egypt around 3500 BCE.

Close to the section of the workshop area dating from the 7th – 2nd century BCE was a portion of a paved street discovered about 1m below groundwater, according to head of the mission Ditrich Raw.


The pottery finds point to a date in the Third Intermediate Period. A number of later Hellenistic-early Roman pits were also found.

Two of them contained debris from temple reliefs of Ramses II. An especially well preserved slab depicts King Ramses II kneeling in front of the sun god Ra-Horakhty, the great god, lord of the sky, and ruler of Heliopolis.

Another pit contained a number of fragments of two royal sculptures, one of which is the base of a brown quartzite statue of King Seti II (1200 – 1194), while the second is carved in red granite and depicts either the goddess Isis or Hathor or a queen of Ramses II.


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