A New York University-ISAW mission, led by archaeologist Sameh Iskander, working at the Temple of Ramses II at Abydos have this month discovered the temple’s foundation deposits. The discovery took place during excavation work carried out on the temple’s southwest corner.
Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II’s temple, located on what is now the western edge of the village of Beni Mansur, has not only been completely preserved, but it still retains the details of its plan. Many of its brightly painted wall reliefs are also visible, and are possibly the finest found on any monument built by Ramses II.
The temple was dedicated to the ancient god Osiris, the god of the underworld and Judge of the Dead. The temple has a conventional design patterned after contemporary mortuary temples at Thebes, and its Limestone walls are now very reduced, standing at only two-metre high.
Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the deposits were buried in 1279 BC at the time of the construction ceremony. They include food offerings, plaques inscribed with Ramses II’s throne name painted in blue or green, small copper construction tool models, pottery vessels decorated with hieratic inscriptions, and oval-shaped quartzite grindstones.
The mission also uncovered 10 large mud-brick storerooms attached to the temple palace, originally roofed with vaulted brick ceilings. They were used as granaries, storage of other temple provisions, offerings, and other small equipment.
Twelve sacrificial votive bulls’ heads and bones dated to the Ptolemaic period were found in niches cut into the storeroom walls. A complete skeleton of a bull was also found, carefully buried under the floor of the temple palace.
The archaeologists believe that the foundation deposits bearing the throne name of Ramses II were buried under his first temple built in Egypt, and confirm the temple was indeed constructed during his reign, not his father’s.
Ramses II’s temple, with its pink and black granite door frames, sandstone pillars and a sanctuary of alabaster must have been a beautiful and rich sight indeed.