Monday, December 5, 2016

Short Story: Sohag Under Development

A program has been put in place to preserve and develop the monumental sites of the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag, reports Nevine El-Aref.
In the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag there lie rich archaeological sites from the early ancient Egyptian era right up to the Ptolemaic, Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic periods. But although the governorate contains many distinguished monuments and historical landmarks, it is seldom visited.

To promote the governorate’s archaeological sites and encourage tourists to pay a visit to its monuments, the Ministry of Antiquities has launched a plan to develop the sites and to make the area more tourist friendly as well as to continue its goal to preserve and conserve them.

Earlier this week, Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Enany and top officials from the ministry embarked on an inspection tour of some of Sohag’s archaeological sites, including Abydos, Athribis, Akhmim, the Red Monastery and the long-awaited Sohag Museum.

ABYDOS: The first destination was Abydos, one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt. In ancient times it was called “Abdu,” which means “the hill of the symbol or reliquary” where the sacred head of the god of the dead and the underworld Osiris was buried and preserved.

For this reason, the site was an important pilgrimage destination and necropolis from the Early Dynastic Period to Christian times. During the Graeco-Roman period the town gained its current name.

It houses several archaeological sites such as the Umm Al-Qaab area (Mother of Pots) that contains the tombs of early Pre-dynastic chieftains and the burials of many of the early dynastic kings. Closer to the floodplain are mud-brick enclosures serving the royal funerary cults of kings of the First and Second Dynasties, of which the best preserved is Shunet Al-Zebib.

The remains of other royal and elite tombs and temples can also be found in Abydos. In North Abydos there is an area called Kom Al-Sultan that houses the remains of an early town and a temple of the god Osiris-Khentyamentiu. During the Middle Kingdom, a yearly procession celebrating the resurrection of the god Osiris after his murder at the hands of his brother Seth led from this temple to the Tomb of Osiris at Umm Al-Qaab.

In the middle of Abydos are the New Kingdom temples of Seti I and his son Ramses II. Behind them is the symbolic tomb of the god Osiris, the Osirion. In South Abydos, there are a small Third Dynasty pyramid, a mortuary complex for the 12th Dynasty pharaoh Senwosret III, as well as a pyramid and temple built by the first pharaoh of the New Kingdom, Ahmose. In addition, there is a small temple thought to have been dedicated to the cult of Ahmose’s principal consort, Ahmose-Nefertari, and a small chapel dedicated to his grandmother, Tetisheri.

At Shunet Al-Zebib, Al-Enany inspected the restoration work achieved and announced the opening of the site for the first time to the public. He ordered that it be included in the visitor itinerary for Abydos, but that it also be free of charge.

“It is a very important site because it is the only surviving structure of a series of funerary complexes built in the area by the kings of the First and Second Dynasties,” Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the ministry, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

He said that Shunet Al-Zebib served as a funerary cult enclosure of the last ruler of the Second Dynasty Khasekhemwy and includes the first-known mudbrick structure in the world. ... READ MORE.

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