Plant & Equipment

Dig site yields ancient quarry carvings

The archaic artwork was discovered during a Swedish-led research project at the Gebel el Silsila, a stone quarry located outside the city of Aswan that was said to have supplied stone for the Luxor and other temples in southern Egypt.

Within the Speos of Horemheb monument at Gebel el Silsila, Egyptologist and epigrapher Dr Philippe Martinez, who was part of the 15-person research team headed by Lund University’s Maria Nilsson, discovered a carved stone image of two obelisks being transported on a boat.

“What is spectacular about this find is that the scene is visible through a second scene which was engraved on top of it, and through stylistic comparisons we believe the underlying scene, showing a boat transporting obelisks, to be from the early 18th dynasty, possibly from the time of the famous female pharaoh Hatshepsut,” Nilsson explained.

She added it was likely the engravings had been made by the workers of the time as an offering to the gods. “[This could be] partly as an expression of gratitude that nobody was injured during the work,” she speculated.

The team also found two unfinished sandstone obelisks in the main quarry, surmising that the huge blocks of stone had been abandoned due to a crack that had appeared during the cutting process.

“Contextual epigraphic material shows depictions of obelisks, combined with a technical sketch of how to lower an obelisk, which indicate that these blocks may have been extracted to be sculptured as obelisks. The topic will certainly be further explored,” Nilsson noted on the research project’s blog.

The Gebel el Silsila Survey Project has been underway since 2012 and aims to comprehensively document, categorise and analyse the quarry’s markings in order to learn more about the people responsible for the engravings and why the carvings were created.

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