Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
Tue Nov 2, 2010 02:08 PM ET
First section of the newly discovered mudbrick wall. Photo: courtesy Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Large sections of mudbrick walls have emerged from the sands of the Giza plateau on which the Sphinx and the three great pyramids stand, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities announced on Tuesday.
Discovered by a team of Egyptian archaeologists during routine excavation work near the valley temple of the Fourth Dynasty King Khafre, the structures are part of a wall that once protected the Sphinx from the desert winds.
According to ancient Egyptian texts, the wall was built following a dream which King Thuthmose IV (1400-1390 B.C.) had after a long hunting trip in Wadi El-Ghezlan (Deer Valley), an area next to the Sphinx.
In the dream, the mythical beast with the head of a man and the body of a lion complained that it was being choked by the desert sand. As a result, the king removed the sand that had partially buried the great limestone figure and built an enclosure wall to preserve it.
Stretching for 132 meters (433 feet) in total, the wall is part of a larger structure previously found to the north of the Sphinx.
It consists of two sections. The first part, which is 75 centimeters (29.52 inches) tall and 86 meters (282.2 feet) long, runs from North to South along the eastern side of Khafre's valley temple and the Sphinx. The second part, which is 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) tall and 46 meters (150.9 feet) long, stretches from East to West along the perimeter of the valley temple area.
Excavation work in front of the valley temple of Khafre and the Sphinx. Photo: courtesy of SCA.
"Archaeologists previously believed that the enclosure wall only existed on the Sphinx's northern side because a 3-meter-tall (9.84-foot-tall) by 12-meter-long (39.37-foot-long) section had been found there," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in the statement.
"This theory has now been disproven thanks to the discovery of the two new wall sections along the eastern and southern sides of the Sphinx," Hawass said.
The archaeologists also uncovered a third, older section of a mudbrick wall on the eastern side of Khafre's valley temple.
According to Hawass, the structure could be what remains of a settlement inhabited by the priests and officials who oversaw the mortuary cult of the pharaoh Khafre.
Also known as Chephren, the pharaoh died in about 2532 B.C. after building the second of the Giza pyramids. His mortuary cult continued until the eighth dynasty (ca. 2143-2134 B.C.), which was the end of the Old Kingdom.
"Excavations will continue in order to reveal the rest of the Thuthmose IV enclosure wall and any other secrets still hidden within the sand," Hawass said.
Source: Discovery News
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