The shrine of Nectanebo and other news

Two weeks ago, in a district in northern Cairo known as Matariya, parts of a shrine and a temple were unearthed by an Egyptian-German mission. This district is actually built on the site of the ancient city of Heliopolis, one of the most important religious centres in ancient Egypt.

The shrine is dated to the reign of King Nectanebo, who belongs to what is conventionally called the 30th Dynasty, the last dynasty to rule Egypt before the arrival of Alexander the Great (in 332 BC) and the beginning of the Ptolemaic era.

The blocks forming the shrine are made of basalt, between 75cm and 125cm long, and feature the different names of Egypt’s regions and scenes representing the god Hapi with offerings. The mission is currently attempting to find more blocks, to help reconstruct the shape of the shrine. From the temple were found parts of columns in limestone and the ceiling, decorated with stars. A bust from a statue of Merenptah, who ruled during what is known as the New Kingdom, and part of the enclosure wall in mudbrick were also recovered. 

In other news, the tomb of a young man belonging to the aristocratic élite of the Germanic Marcomanni tribe was discovered in the Czech Republic. The deceased wore a leather belt with a buckle and was laid to rest in a coffin made from a hollow tree trunk. In the tomb, probably already robbed at an early stage, were found a pot and a bronze vessel.

Two stashes, with all in all more than 350 objects, have come to light in a ravine near the archaeological site of Tartaria–Podu Tartariei vest, recently discovered in Transylvania, Romania. The stashes were probably an offering to gods and contained bronze weapons including double-axes, short swords and spears, as well as bronze jewellery, including brooches, bracelets and anklets, pendants, beads, and hairpins. Weapons and iron tools were also recovered from in the tomb. Analyses based on X-ray fluorescence are being conducted on these objects, to retrieve the source of the metals. A nice image gallery of the hoard can be found on the LiveScience website.

The skeletons of five middle-aged men of the lower class from the cemetery of Amarna, in Egypt, seem to prove the use of heavy corporal punishment in ancient Egypt. These skeletons have some wounds in the shoulder blades, which had been noticed in the past and have now been interpreted as the result of being stabbed by spears from behind, inflicted as punishment. This interpretation seems to fit with descriptions of corporal punishment in ancient Egyptian texts, and with the poor conditions in which the inhabitants lived at Amarna, the ancient Akhetaton, the capital built by the ‘heretic’ Pharaoh Akhenaton.

More discoveries have been made in Cartagena, Spain, were the Decumanus Maximus (the main east-to-west street), with a portico on its left side, and a monumental fountain decorated with sculpted nymphs, probably part of a public square, have come to light. Below this monument there also remains of a Punic home, with a kitchen and a storeroom, probably destroyed during the conquest of the city by Scipio Africanus in 209 BC.

Picture credit: thumbnail for this post taken from the article on the Egyptian shrine.

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