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Menthu and Ptolemy IV. The Place of Truth, Deir el Medina   Source: Merlin UK /CC BY-SA 3.0

Lost temple of the Pharaoh Ptolemy IV found in Egypt


The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has announced a dramatic find in the center of the country. During construction work, the lost temple of a pharaoh of the Ptolemaic Dynasty was uncovered, completely by chance. The temple is a very important discovery and it is expected to help researchers to better understand the period when the Ptolemaic dynasty began to decline.

The Ministry announced that the find was made while a construction crew was “drilling for a sewage drainage project in Kom Shaqau village in Tama township in northern Sohag,” reports Egypt Today .  Workers found some dressed stones in a sewage drain. As required by law they immediately contacted the authorities.

In Ancient Egypt , Kom Shaqao was an important urban center. According to Egypt Independent it “was the capital of the tenth region of Upper Egypt, west of the city of Tama”. This regional capital was also known as Wagit and it was first mentioned in the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, (2610-2500 BC). Previously important papyri were found here, that talk of “the famous poet Dioscorus of Aphrodito who lived there in the 6th century” reports the Daily News Egypt website.

  Hieroglyphs including the name of Ptolemy IV have been uncovered. (Ministry of Antiquities)

Hieroglyphs including the name of Ptolemy IV have been uncovered. ( Ministry of Antiquities )

Lost temple

International Business Times , reports that Mostafa Waziri, the Secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, stated “the work at the drilling site was suspended and an archaeological team has been assigned to recover the ruins”.  It was immediately clear that the workers had made a very important discovery. They had accidentally uncovered the remains of a temple of king Ptolemy IV according to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities statement.

The archaeologists were able to establish this by studying some inscriptions that were found on some blocks and walls that had been unearthed. These inscriptions were in the form of hieroglyphs. “These ruins featured inscriptions of the ancient Egyptian god Habi accompanied by many different animals, and the remains of texts containing Ptolemy IV’s name” reports Egypt Independent .  This allowed the researchers to identify who built the temple but also allowed it to be dated.

Archaeologists unearthed the southwestern corner of the temple. They also found a wall running from north to south. Another limestone wall heading westward was also found, covered with limestone slab. Also, some floors from the temple made of limestone blocks have also been revealed by the archaeologists said the Ministry statement .

They also found walls running in various directions. (Ministry of Antiquities)

They also found walls running in various directions. ( Ministry of Antiquities )

Pharaoh Ptolemy IV

Ptolemy IV Philopator (245-204 BC) was a member of the Macedonian dynasty that had been founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals. He was the son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II who ruled from 222 to 205 BC according to Archaeology.org.  Ptolemy IV’s reign began with a great victory over the Seleucids, but he was faced with a massive internal rebellion by the native Egyptians and for a time Upper Egypt was ruled by a rival pharaoh.

This and his mismanagement of the economy led to serious problems. He was notorious for his decadent lifestyle and was more interested in pleasure than ruling. It is widely believed that his reign marks the beginning of the decline of the dynasty. The last Ptolemaic ruler was Cleopatra.

The unearthing of the temple is a major discovery. It will allow experts to better understand temples during the Ptolemaic period. The find may also give some insights into the disastrous reign of Ptolemy IV . Excavations are expected to continue at the site, and it may provide more details about the temple. This discovery also underlines the great potential for more archaeology finds at the location which was a major administrative center for centuries.

Top image: Menthu and Ptolemy IV. The Place of Truth, Deir el Medina   Source: Merlin UK / CC BY-SA 3.0

By Ed Whelan

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My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

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