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article image3400-year-old statue found at pharaoh's funerary temple in Luxor

By Subir Ghosh     Nov 4, 2010 in World
Luxor - It's discovery season in Egypt. Archaeologists have unearthed the upper part of a statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep III at Luxor. The statue is around 3,400 years old. Amenhotep III is believed to be the grandfather of the young King Tutankhamun.
The find – part of a double statue featuring King Amenhotep III with the falcon-headed sun god Re-Horakhti – was made on Thursday at the pharaoh's funerary temple on Luxor's west bank. The team also found a granite colossus featuring Thoth, the god of wisdom, in the form of a baboon.
Egypt's Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosny, said in a statement (PDF) that the discovery was made during routine excavations carried out by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). The dig is being directed by Dr Zahi Hawass, who believes that the statue is one of the best new finds in the area, because of its expert craftsmanship, which reflects the skills of the ancient Egyptian artisans. "This is the first time that we have found a standing statue of the god Thoth," Hawass said.
Earlier this week, SCA archaeologists discovered a 3400-year-old enclosure wall around Giza's Sphinx, presumably erected to protect the celebrated landmark from desert winds. It was probably one of the earliest tries at architectural conservation. Last month, archaeologists found a 4400-year-old tomb, south of the cemetery of the pyramid builders at Giza. The tomb belonged to a priest named Rudj-Ka (or Rwd-Ka), and was dated to the 5th Dynasty - between 2465 and 2323 BC.
In the October, Egyptian archaeologists unearthed part of a 3,000-year-old granite double statue of the Amenhotep III. The statue was excavated at Kom El-Hittan on the west bank of Luxor. Also in October, a team of archaeologists found the burial chamber of a priest named Karakhamun at the Theban Necropolis. The tomb dated back to Dynasty 25 (c. 755BC) and was uncovered during conservation and restoration work on the west bank of Luxor.
According to Mansour Boraik, General Supervisor of the Luxor Antiquities Department of the SCA, a number of group statues of Amenhotep III are still partially buried under private farmland that surrounds the temple. Dr Samir Farag, governor of Luxor, and SCA are now trying to reach an agreement with the farmer to buy this section of land so that the statues can be fully excavated. In the future, this area will be converted into an open-air museum that will display the objects found in the mortuary temple complex.
Eighteenth Dynasty king Amenhotep III, (1390-1352BC) is known for his overwhelming amount of statuary, particularly group statuary featuring the king with the ancient Egyptian deities. These include Amun-Re, Re-Horakhti, Bastet, Sobek, but – most frequently – Sekhmet, the ancient Egyptian goddess of healing.
So far, the Amenhotep III Temple Conservation Project, led by Dr Hourig Sourouzian, has unearthed more than 80 statues of Sekhmet. It has been suggested that the Sekhmet statues were erected because Amenhotep's failing health during the final years of his reign.
Amenhotep III is reckoned to have been one of the wealthiest and most powerful of all the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. His funerary temple at Luxor measured 700 metres by 500 metres, making it one of the largest monuments in ancient Egypt.
More about Amenhotep, Tutankhamun, Luxor, Egypt
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