Archaeologists Discover ‘Lost’ Egyptian Sun Temple

A third solar temple made of mud bricks was recently discovered in Egypt. (Massimiliano Nuzzolo)

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered thousands of old structures – and even entire cities. However, finding the six solar temples built by the Fifth Dynasty pharaohs has proved elusive. Until recently, only two had been found, and the last was earthen 50 years ago.

On November 16, 2021, Dr Massimiliano Nuzzolo, Assistant Professor of Egyptology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, revealed the discovery of a third “lost” sun temple at Abu Ghurab, about 20 km south of Cairo. Unlike the sun temples found earlier, which were built of stone, this one was made using mud bricks. He was buried under the solar temple of Nyuserra, discovered by scientists in 1898. Nyuserra, who ruled from 2400 to 2370 BCE, was the sixth pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty.

Beer jars filled with ritual mud were found inside the Sun Temple (Photo credit: Massimiliano Nuzzolo)

Although the recent discovery is structurally similar at Nyuserra Sun Temple, Dr Nuzzolo does not believe it was built by Pharaoh. The expert says that the Egyptian pharaohs did not rebuild their mud buildings with stone. In addition, the artifacts found inside, which include beer jars filled with ritual mud, dates from the mid-25th century BCE – a generation or two before Nyuserra time.

“19th century archaeologists search only a very small part of this mud brick building under the stone temple of Nyuserra and concluded that it was a previous construction phase of the same temple, “said Nuzzolo CNN in an email. “Now our finds to prove that it was a completely different building, erected before Nyuserra. “

While Dr Nuzzolo and his team are confident the mud structure is a temple of the sun, they do not know the pharaoh behind. Scientists believe further excavation will reveal the identity. They also hope that the artifacts will provide knowledge in the old civilization and his customs.

The New Sun Temple was found under Nyuserra Sun Temple (above), discovered in 1898 (Photo Credit: Chanel Wheeler / CC BY-SA 2..0 / Wikimedia Commons)

Archaeologists believe mud bricks may also explain why the Sun Temples, all believed to be around Abu Ghurab, were so hard to find. “This [the use of mud bricks] may have facilitated their disappearance during the centuries, as happened with several other ancient Egyptians the monuments built with the same perishable material, ”says Dr. Nuzzolo.“ Plus, mud brick construction can be easily demolished and buried under other constructions, as it probably happened in our case. “

Dedicated to the solar god Ra – the most powerful of ancient Egypt deity – the solar temples were unique in the 5th dynasty. Dr Nuzzolo believes that their primary the goal was that the pharaoh raise his status to God by claiming to be Ra’s only son. “Indirectly, so, the main goal of the temple was that of being the place of the deification of the living king, ”he explains.

Resources: CNN.com, Smithsonianmag.com, artnews.com