Church and Nilometer discovered on Egypt’s Avenue of Sphinxes
Tuesday 11 May 2010
Archaeologists working at the Avenue of Sphinxes in Luxor, Egypt, have uncovered the remains of a fifth century Coptic church and a Nilometer, a structure used to measure the level of the Nile during floods.
According to a statement released by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), the remains of the church were found on the second of five sections of the ancient religious path leading to the Karnak temple.
The church was built with limestone blocks originally belonging to the Ptolemaic and Roman temples that once stretched along the Avenue. The blocks are well preserved, with many of them bearing depictions of Ptolemaic and Roman kings offering sacrifices to ancient Egyptian gods.
Also this week, in the avenue's fourth section, the Egyptian team discovered the remains of a Nilometer, which contained a collection of New Kingdom clay vessels. Constructed out of sandstone, the Nilometer is a cylindrical structure seven metres in diameter and has spiral steps which used to descend into the Nile. During periods of flooding it was used for measuring the increase in water level of the river.
The development and restoration works at the Avenue of Sphinxes aim to revive this 2700-metres-long ancient route connecting the Luxor and Karnak temples. It is thought that originally no less than 1350 sphinxes were guarding the path.
Other recent discoveries along the Avenue are foundation stones decorated with depictions of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, the chapel of 21st dynasty priest Min-Kheber-Re and a number of fragmented sphinxes that are now being restored in order to be reinstated along the Avenue.
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