The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago have been working hard on excavations in the ancient Egyptian city of Tell Edfu, and their dedication has led archaeologists to discover two new buildings that date to the Fifth Dynasty, between the years 2400-2350 BC.
The once busy and thriving settlement of Tell Edfu can be found in the southern region of Egypt and is located 400 miles outside of Cairo. Archaeologists have spent the past 16 years excavating this site, and the newest buildings that have now been uncovered show what would have been the city’s very first efforts at building a settlement.
These particular two buildings would have once formed a quite large complex in which Egyptians would have smelted copper, and archaeologists have shown that workers inside the complex would also have been working diligently to provide the city’s residents with bread and beer.
Another important function of these Egyptian buildings in Tell Edfu would have been to house visiting government officials from Memphis. These officials are believed to have traveled to the city so that they could keep track of the work being done nearby when it came to the very important mining of metals and stones, according to Phys.org.
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Archaeologist Nadine Moeller, who has helped to lead the excavations at Tell Edfu, has said that the newest discovery of these buildings in the ancient city is especially exciting as to date there hasn’t been much information about this era of time in the southern region of Egypt.
“It’s a wonderful find because we have so little information about this era of settlement in the southern provinces. We don’t know any such similar complex for the Old Kingdom.”
The two buildings in the recently discovered complex are comprised of mudbrick, and surrounding them are massive courtyards in which what would have once been workshops can be seen. These workshops were found to hold various containers, which is what first suggested to archaeologists that these buildings had been used for manufacturing different goods.
Along with the containers, 200 clay sealings were also found which would have been official stamps that would have been placed on the different goods being produced on the site, as well as affixed to official letters. On a large number of the clay sealings, names of high government officials can still be seen today.
One of these officials was employed to oversee different mining expeditions for King Djedkare-Isesi, who would have happily received many of the precious metals that workers were able to supply from the neighboring desert. Other objects found in the buildings include highly prized Nubian ceramics as well as shells from the region of the Red Sea, which further show that there would have been many expeditions conducted for members of royalty at the time.
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As Nadine Moeller explained, these buildings in Tell Edfu clearly show that at this point in time Egyptian royalty began shifting their focus on other regions of the country after having focused on the northern region for so long in the past.
“It’s just about this time that the Egyptian royalty, until then focused on the northern area directly around the capital Memphis, began to expand its reach after a period of contraction during the fourth and much of the fifth dynasties. This is a first sign that the ancient city of Edfu was evolving into an important departure point for large expeditions leaving for the Eastern desert regions, and possibly the Red Sea shore, located about 125 miles to the east.”
With 16 years of research conducted so far on Tell Edfu in Egypt and the recent discovery of these two new buildings, it is clear that there is still much work left to be done and many more important and exciting discoveries to be made.