Evidence of an Egyptian Sun Temple that was lost has been found
After uncovering one of four sun temples that were lost, archaeologists have made one the most significant discoveries in 50 years.
The fifth dynasty pharaohs built a half dozen sun temples to compliment their pyramids.
To ensure that they would be a god after death, the pharaohs built these vast pyramids.
Sun temples were designed to fulfill the deification desire of the pharaoh while he was still alive. Modern archaeologists have only found two of the six temples that experts believe were built by different pharaohs.
Dr Massimiliano Nuzzolo is an assistant professor of Egyptology in the Academy of Sciences, Warsaw. He has spent his entire career trying to find the other.
Dr Massimiliano Nuzzolo has been looking for lost sun temples.
He said, "Each King wanted a pyramid to achieve his resurrection, but this was not enough in order for the fifth Dynasty Kings."
They wanted more. To make himself a god, the king built a sun temple. The sun god.
Ra, the sun god and most powerful god of ancient Egypt, was also the center point for many elaborate rituals.
Each sun temple had a large courtyard that contained a tall, pyramid-like Obelisk. It was perfectly aligned with the east-west axis.
This was so that the sun rises through the plaza entrance on the summer solstice and reflects off the obelisk. The sun sets at the opposite end of the temple.
Dr Nuzzolo focuses on the sun temple in Abu Goab, built by Nyuserre, who ruled for around 30 years during the 25th Century BC.
It was discovered that the base had been buried beneath its broken remains. This indicates that there was once a structure on the site.
Dr Nuzzolo, along with Dr Mohamed Osman's colleagues, did not have any evidence that this building was sacred.
Artist's impression of one the Sun Temples that were lost
Further excavation of rubble and sand revealed a two-foot-deep foundation of a white limestone column. This indicates that the original building was built on the site. Dr Nuzzolo said it was "quite impressive".
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He said, "We knew there was something beneath Nyuserre's stone temple of Nyuserre. But we don’t know if that is just another phase of the temple or if this is a new one."
"Actually, it would indicate a new building because of the massive entrance. Why not another sun temple? One of the missing sun temples?
However, researchers were able to complete the puzzle and make sure that their discovery was a sun temple. This is the third and first discovered in over half a century.
Researchers discovered a cache of beer jars containing mud. This was a ritual offering for the most sacred places.
The academics believe that the combination of the new architecture and the excavation has led to the discovery of a temple.
Dr Nuzzolo stated, "I have many proofs that the excavations here are one of the lost Sun temples."
Although the identity of the sun temple's builder and benefactor is not known, it is most likely to be one of the fifth dynasty rulers.
Kings surpass their predecessors
As the financial pinch from generations of pyramid-builders began to take its toll on the state, a few pharaohs built sun temples. Every king did more than his predecessor.
Pharaoh Khufu was last ruler to really benefit from the consistent annual flooding of Nile. This provided fertile soil, bountiful crop yields, and tax income that was abundant.
But, after Khufu, Egypt was hit hard by drought. This caused the state's income to plummet, and left later rulers financially inept compared to their predecessors.
The later pyramids were therefore a shadow of their predecessors. Sun temples, which were cost-effective ways to preserve the power of the pharaohs and still be worshipped by the people despite increasing hardships, were also created.
National Geographic's Lost Treasures of Egypt Season 3 debuts at 7pm Sunday 14 November 2021.