Archaeologists from the Project Gebel el-Silsila, led by Maria Nilsson, University of Lund (Sweden), have discovered intact shrines and six statues carved into the rock at the archaeological zone of Gebel el-Silsila, north of Aswan, according to a report from the Egyptians antiquities ministry. Gebel el-Silsila was a quarry in Ancient Egypt and its rock was used in most of the greatest temples we see today in Egypt. Gebel el-Silsila means chain of mountains and was also known as Kheny which means palace of rowing.
According to reports, one of the statues, a well-preserved cenotaph is believed to depict an ancient Egyptian official by the name of Neferkhewe, his wife Ruiuresti and two of their children. Researchers found an inscription in the vicinity of the statutes describing the social status of Neferkhewe as the overseer of foreign lands and chief of the medjay (Ancient Egyptian name for Southern Sudan).
According to writing by Discovery News, the other two statues depict a -so far- unknown man and woman which are positioned sitting facing one another. Interestingly, the facial features of the man are somewhat odd as he is depicted with large, protruding ears, a large nose and lips. Researchers also note that he is depicted as having ‘sunken’ eyes and his arms are positioned in an Osirian pose, meaning that they are crossed on the Chest. The women which are depicted next to the statue of the unknown individual has similar facial features and is depicted embracing the man.
“We have no clues so far about the identity of this couple. Unfortunately, there is no information preserved within the hieroglyphic text,” Nilsson told Discovery News.
Even though centuries have passed, and the archeological site was submerged by water and slit by the flooding of the Nile river, architectural features of both shrines are extremely well preserved according to archaeologists. According to Discovery News, Shrine 31 has all of its architectural remains and is extremely well preserved, including its dressed walls, door jambs, floor and threshold. The other shrine, belonging to the couple, dubbed as number 30, retains the doorway with its threshold, lintel, door jamb, interior walls and ceiling.
According to researchers, these findings are extremely important since the area suffered an earthquake in ancient times, along with a strong erosion that has damaged the stone. The Swedish archaeological mission will continue working in the area, hoping to make new discoveries near Gebel el-Silsila.
The archaeological are at Gebel el-Silsila remains largely untouched in modern times with minor excavations being done in the early 19th century. Present day archaeologists are doing a comprehensive survey and are trying to document the site’s less spectacular features, says the website of The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE).
Image courtesy of The Gebel el Silsila Project 2015