A “dumping ground” discovered in an ancient Egyptian tomb dedicated to the goddess of fertility

Ancient Egyptian “dumping ground” found in temple honoring the mighty woman Pharaoh Hatshepsut is stacked with offerings to a fertility goddess, archaeologists report.

Archaeologists unexpectedly discovered the rubbish heap in a tomb in the 3,500-year-old Hathor Cult Complex, a three-temple complex located in the Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari (also spelled Deir el-Bahri), near Luxor. Although the landfill was hidden in a tomb from the early Middle Kingdom, many artifacts in the landfill date from the New Kingdom, which includes the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties that ruled from the 16th century BC to the 11th century BC.

Many of these artifacts are votive offerings – special items, like figurines, intentionally left to deities, religious leaders, or institutions – that people ancient egypt given to Hathor, the goddess of fertility.

“The ex-voto deposit in Hathor discovered in this tomb indicates that this part of the temple of Hatshepsut was not used for worship and was considered a place of garbage dump,” said Patryk Chudzik, director of the Polish-Egyptian archaeological and conservation expedition. at the temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari, and archaeologist at the Polish Center for Mediterranean Archeology at the University of Warsaw (PCMA UW).

Related: Photos: Egyptian tomb found has colorful murals of a man and woman

The female sovereign Hatshepsut often invoked Hathor, so it is not surprising that she has a chapel dedicated to the goddess in the temple, according to the Encyclopedia of World History.

Chudzik’s team discovered the Middle Empire tomb with the garbage pile in the spring of 2021, while investigating the Hathor cult complex and working on its conservation and reconstruction, especially for its public opening on the sanctuary of Hathor.

“When we found it, the tomb was filled with rocky debris,” as well as a large number of early Middle Kingdom artifacts, New Kingdom votive offerings to Hathor, and the remains of a late tomb. of the 20th Dynasty, said Chudzik. Science live in an email. “The oldest materials of the votive offerings in Hathor are dated to the 18th Dynasty, while the rest were made during the reign of the Pharaohs of the 19th and 20th Dynasties,” he said.

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Figurines discovered in the rubbish heap of the grave.

Figurines of votive offerings discovered in the rubbish heap of the tomb. (Image credit: PCMA UW)
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A clay artifact found in the dump.

A clay artifact found in the dump. (Image credit: PCMA UW)
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Archaeologists have found clay figurines, including those of cows.

Archaeologists have found clay figurines, including those of cows. (Image credit: PCMA UW)
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A map of the complex tomb.

A map of the complex tomb. (Image credit: PCMA UW)

The dump is huge, he noted. Debris fills the approximately 50-foot-long (15-meter) corridor from the tomb, with its highest point at 1.6 feet (0.5 m). Despite the size of the landfill, other archaeologists have missed its importance. Swiss archaeologist Édouard Naville discovered the tomb in the late 1800s, but beyond noting the excessive rubble, he did not investigate the dump, according to Science in Poland, a Polish news site jointly run by independent media and the government. An American expedition excavating the temple in the 1920s also ignored the deposit.

The new investigation revealed that the votive offerings to Hathor included glazed ceramics, known as earthenware, and clay vessels; clay figurines of cows; fragments of limestone and granite statues; small female earthenware figurines which are representations of Hathor; and various types of amulets.

“These items were originally left by the ancient Egyptians in the Sanctuary of Hathor above the tomb. [we excavated]”Chudzik said.” We suggest that sometimes there were so many offerings that there was no empty space for new items, and that is why the priests of the temple of Hatshepsut would pick them up from from time to time and took them out of the temple area, dumping them with garbage. “

The find also shows that “the tomb was open and could be entered during the time of Hatshepsut and during the reign of successive kings of Egypt,” Chudzik said. Other archaeologists had suggested there was a ramp leading to Hathor’s Shrine, but the new discovery shows that was not the case.

The fact that there was probably no ramp “is an important result which allows us to reconstruct the history of the construction not only of the shrine of Hathor, but also of the whole of the temple of Hatshepsut”, did he declare. However, research on the temple is ongoing. “These are only preliminary findings,” Chudzik said. “To find out more, we have to wait until an in-depth study of the material is completed.”

Originally posted on Live Science.

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