Statue of ancient Nubian king discovered in Egyptian god’s temple

Remains of a 2600-year-old statue of a ruler of the Kush kingdom with a hieroglyphic inscription has been discovered in a temple at Dangeil, Sudan.

Temple at Dangeil (by Julie Anderson & Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project)

The statue was discovered in a temple dedicated to the Egyptian god Amun. It depicts Aspelta, who was the ruler of the Kush kingdom between 593-568 BC. The hieroglyphic inscription states that Aspelta was “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and “Beloved of Re’-Harakhty” (Egyptian sun god Re) and that he was “given all life, stability and dominion forever“. It is known that he didn’t rule Egypt, but some of his predecessors did. Kush lost control of Egypt during the reign of a king named Tanwetamani, who ruled between c. 664–653 BC. His successors called themselves the King of Upper and Lower Egypt. During fieldwork in 2016 and 2017 archaeologists discovered the hieroglyphic inscription on Aspelta’s statue, parts of which were discovered in 2008. Along with that statue, the remains of two other rulers were unearthed – Taharqa, who ruled ca. 690-664 BC and Senkamanisken, reigning 643-623 BC.

Parts of the statue (by Julie Anderson & Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project)

The temple of Amun dates back at least 2000 years. According to the archaeologists Julie Anderson, Rihab Khidir el-Rasheed and Mahmoud Suliman Bashir, the statues were likely constructed during the lifetimes of their respective kings and were displayed long after those kings died. The temple functioned until the late third to early fourth century. Between the late 11th and early 13th centuries, long after the Amun temple had fallen into ruin, people were digging graves in the ruined temple. During the last two archaeological seasons archaeologists unearthed remains of several adult women and at least one juvenile in tombs containing also a trove of jewelry, including necklaces, beaded belts, rings, bracelets and anklets. According to the researchers, the vast amount of jewelry findings suggest this was an elite group.

(after Julie Anderson, Rihab Khidir el-Rasheed, Mahmoud Suliman Bashir & Berber-Abidiya Archaeological Project)

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