Archaeologists Find Long-Lost Sun Temple constructed by Nyuserre, in Egypt

The remains of a third sun temple constructed by Nyuserre have been unearthed. COURTESY MASSIMILIANO NUZZOLO

Archaeologists have long believed that the Egyptian pharaohs ever built only six sun temples. These are structures that were intended to establish the status of rulers as gods while they were still alive. But only two such buildings have been found. However, recently, an archaeologist said he had found the remains of a third in Abu Ghrab.

According to CNN, the third known sun temple dates back to the 25th century BC. That makes the Egyptian temple one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in Egypt in half a century.

The first Egyptian sun temple was found in 1898. However, the researchers of the 19th century did not realize that the structure they discovered was in the ruins of another one like it.

Excavation in Abu Gorab

An assistant professor of Egyptology at the Institute for the Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Massimiliano Nuzzolo told CNN that researchers mistook the ruins for part of the building they were excavating. In fact, it was a completely different structure.

The newly discovered sun temple was built by Nyserre, a pharaoh associated with the Ancient Kingdom of Egypt, who ruled for anywhere from two to three decades. In the field of archeology, Nyserre is most closely associated with the pyramids he built.

Along with the remains of a recently discovered mud-brick structure, Nuzzolo’s team uncovered ritual jugs, ancient Egyptian seals, and parts of limestone columns. “The main purpose of the sun temple was to become the site of the deification of the living king,” Nuzzolo told CNN.

Sun Temples in Ancient Egypt were dedicated to the sun god Ra and were intended to give lifetime divine status to the pharaohs who built them. In turn, the Egyptian pyramids, built as final resting places, were supposed to ensure that the pharaohs would be resurrected as gods in the afterlife.

Primary sources from that period mention 6-7 different sun temples built by the Pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty. The names of the rulers with whom the construction of these temples is associated are:

  • Userkaf;
  • Sahura;
  •  Neferirkara Kakai;
  •  Neferefra;
  •  Niuserra;
  • Menkauhor.

Until the recent discovery, the remains of only two of these temples were found: Niuserra in Abu Gorab and another built by order of Pharaoh Userkaf in Abusir. Archaeologists excavating the Temple of Niuserra have found an older mud-brick foundation. This indicated the existence of another building in this place.

However, it took another 50 years to find new evidence in the form of many ancient vessels. These artifacts became proof that the ruins were not part of the temple of Nyuserra, but a completely different and older temple.


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