The archaeological excavation of an ancient Egyptian city at Tell Edfu in southern Egypt, led by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, has discovered well-preserved settlement remains dating to an important turning point in ancient Egyptian history, when the pharaohs began to renew interest in the provincial regions in the far south of their kingdom.
The dig revealed two large buildings that mark the earliest occupation uncovered so far in this part of the town, dating to about 2400-2350 BCE in the late Fifth Dynasty of Egypt. Ancient Egyptians made beer and bread andbosmelted copper in the complex, which was likely built to accommodate important officials sent from the royal capital in Memphis to oversee expeditions to mine precious metals and stones from the surrounding deserts.
“It’s a wonderful find because we have so little information about this era of settlement in the southern provinces,” said Nadine Moeller, associate professor of Egyptian archaeology, who leads the excavation together with Oriental Institute research associate Gregory Marouard. “We don’t know any such similar complex for the Old Kingdom.”
The Oriental Institute team has been excavating Tell Edfu, an ancient city located in the Nile Valley about 400 miles south of Cairo, for more than 16 years. In that time, they’ve worked backward through time to finally reveal the earliest parts of the settlement at the site.