Temple built during reign of Ptolemy IV discovered in Egypt

For hundreds of years, researchers and random people have been uncovering archaeological sites in Egypt. So many, that would think all of them have been found. But we continue to find sites today, and now a construction crew has found a temple built during the reign of Ptolemy IV.

While working on a sewage drain near the Nile, the crew came upon the ancient temple, built 2,200 years ago for one of the last Ptolemaic pharaohs of Egypt.

After the crew reported the find, the Ministry of Antiquities announced that a team of archaeologists had been dispatched to study the temple and save it.

According to a Ministry of Antiquities Facebook post:

Mohamed Abdul Budaiya, head of the central administration of upper Egypt, reported that the mission began its work in the south of the wall discovered during the sanitation project, and on one side street, the mission revealed the South-West corner of the temple and the rest of the wall from north to the south, with the remains of…the sacrifice of many different animals and birds and in front of him the remains of texts containing the name of King Ptolemy IV.

Researchers excavating the temple site in Tama, Egypt. Image via Ministry of Antiquities.

“The find was made in the city of Tama, just north of Sohag, Egypt, on the Nile’s western bank,” Live Science wrote. “A region of the modern city called Kom Shaqao sits on what was once the capital of Upper Egypt’s 10th district. In the past, that settlement was known as Wajit.”

The team uncovered several limestone walls and a limestone block floor. Image via Ministry of Antiquities.
A massive stone block uncovered at the temple site. Image via Ministry of Antiquities.

The inscriptions and hieroglyphics clearly indicate that the temple was built during the short reign of Ptolemy IV, who ruled Egypt from 221-204 BC, which means the team were able to narrow down the age of the temple to within 17 years.

The team of researchers found inscriptions and hieroglyphics allowing them to identify that Ptolemy IV had the temple built. Image via Ministry of Antiquities.
The team also figured out that the temple inscriptions referenced Hapi, the god of annual Nile flooding. Image via Ministry of Antiquities.

CNN reports:

The team has so far uncovered a north-south wall, an east-west wall and the southwestern corner of the limestone structure, which is engraved with carvings of Hapi, the Egyptian god of the annual flooding of the Nile, carrying offerings while surrounded by birds and flowers.

Depiction of the Egyptian Nile flood god Hapi on a limestone slab from the 12th Dynasty. Image via Wikimedia.

In addition to this newly rediscovered long lost temple, Ptolemy IV also had a temple built to honor the legendary Greek author Homer, who wrote the epics the Iliad and The Odyssey.

The Greek author Homer, whom Ptolemy IV honored by building a temple for him. Image via Wikimedia.

However, these temples are just a couple of the very few notable things Ptolemy IV did during his reign.

Ptolemy IV’s reign marks the beginning of the end of the Egyptian pharaohs. Born in 245 BC, Ptolemy IV was descended from a line founded by one of Alexander the Great’s top generals, Ptolemy I Soter, who declared himself pharaoh after Alexander unexpectedly died in 323 BC.

The Macedonian Ptolemy I Soter brought a significant Greek influence to Egypt and ruled from Alexandria, a central city named after Alexander.

To appeal to the Egyptian people and persuade them to accept him as their ruler, Ptolemy and his line adopted the title of pharaoh and adopted the practice of marrying their siblings as established by the myth of Osiris.

Of course, this intermarrying would have dire consequences by the time Ptolemy IV ascended to the throne, which began with the murder of his mother Berenice II.

Depiction of Ptolemy IV on a coin issued during his reign. Image via Wikimedia.

He would go on to marry his sister Arsinoe III and together would oversee the Battle of Raphia in Palestine in 217 BC against Antiochus the Great of the Seleucid Empire. This battle is one of the largest ever fought in the ancient world between two armies of over 60,000 each along with dozens of war elephants. Ptolemy’s forces would suffer under 2,000 deaths while the Seleucid army suffered over 10,000.

Some experts believe this battle is referred to in Daniel 11:11 of the Bible, which states:

“Then the king of the South will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North, who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated.”

Despite this victory, Ptolemy IV was a terrible ruler who allowed his ministers to control him. Rather than focus on running his empire, Ptolemy IV cared more about his vices and doing what pleased him while leaving the governing to others.

He even commissioned the building of one of the largest human powered ships ever constructed known as tessarakonteres, a catamaran galley theorized to be around 420 feet in length.

Illustration of what Ptolemy IV’s tessarakonteres ship may have looked like. Image via Wikimedia.

All of this proved to be a fatal mistake, because after Ptolemy IV died in 204 BC, his two favorite ministers Agathocles and Sosibius kept his death a secret from Arsinoe III to prevent her from succeeding her husband, and murdered her to seize rule for themselves. Ptolemy’s son Ptolemy V and Egypt would be controlled by a series of regents and the power of the Ptolemaic kingdom had been severely weakened beyond repair.

Even Cleopatra VII, the last of the Ptolemaic pharaohs, could not prevent Egypt from falling despite alliances with Julius Caesar and later, Marc Antony. Rome would conquer Egypt and Cleopatra would commit suicide in 30 BC, just 191 years after Ptolemy IV took the throne.

Cleopatra VII, last of the Ptolemaic pharaohs. Image via Wikimedia.

It should be noted that Ptolemy V secured his own legacy by issuing the Memphis Decree in 196 BC that resulted in the Rosetta Stone, a giant stele uncovered in 1799 featuring three languages that would help archaeologists decipher Ancient Egyptian, allowing the team of researchers who are currently studying the recently unearthed Ptolemy IV temple to read the inscriptions and hieroglyphics.

The Rosetta Stone, a major part of the lasting legacy of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. Image via Wikimedia.

The finding of this temple will help researchers further understand temples built during the Ptolemaic dynasty and could be just the beginning of a new round of future discoveries since the city used to be an ancient administrative center of the Egyptian empire.

Featured Image: Ministry of Antiquities/Facebook

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