New Kingdom workshop discovered in Egypt's Gebel El-Silsila

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 26 Feb 2019

Excavation work at the archaeological site in Gebel El-Silsila

A Swedish-Egyptian mission led by Maria Nilsson and John Ward from Lund University has discovered a New Kingdom sandstone workshop and several sculptures during excavations carried out at Gebel El-Silsila archaeological site in Aswan.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the mission discovered among the debris in the workshop a large criosphinx (ram-headed sphinx) statue.

The statue, approximately 5 metres long, 3.5 metres high, and 1.5 metres wide, is carved in a style comparable to the criosphinxes to the south of Khonsu Temple at Karnak. The sphinx is believed to be dated to Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty.

The stela discovered in the ancient workshop

Nilsson told Ahram Online that the team unearthed a smaller practice piece of another criosphinx that may have been carved by an apprentice.

Both sculptures seem to be preserved in a rough-cut and had been prepared for transportation, but were likely abandoned at Gebel El-Silsila when the larger sculpture fractured. Later Roman quarry activity buried the sphinxes in soil.

Also discovered embedded in the walls of the workshop was a rough-cut uraeus (coiled cobra) made to crown the head of the larger criosphinx, as well as a blank round-top stela.

The small criosphinx

Abdel-Moneim Saeed, director-general of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, said that hundreds of hieroglyphic fragments that belong to a destroyed Naos of Amenhotep III (Naos E), together with new sculpture fragments of the associated falcon, were unearthed. In addition, parts of an obelisk, including its pyramidion, were retrieved.

"It is a vey important discovery," said Saeed, explaining that the finding highlights that the Gebel El-Silsila area was not only a quarry but also housed workshops for the fabrication of architectural elements used in the decoration of temples.

fragment of hieroglyphic

the criosphinx

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