Famed archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass has announced the city – dubbed the ‘Rise of Aten’ and dating back to the reign of Amenhotep III – has been sensationally found beneath the sands of Luxor after 3,000 years. Believed to be the largest ancient city ever found, some have tipped it to be the “most important find” since the unearthing of Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carter in 1922. Items of jewellery such as rings have been unearthed, along with coloured pottery vessels, scarab beetle amulets and mud bricks bearing the seals of the 18th Dynasty ruler.
Dr Hawass said: “Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it.
“We began our work searching for the mortuary temple of Tutankhamun because the temples of both Horemheb and Ay were found in this area.
“The city’s streets are flanked by houses, some of their walls reach three metres high. We can reveal that the city extends to the west, all the way to the famous Deir el-Medina.
The city is considered a vital clue to the cultural and religious developments of the reign of Amenhotep III whose succession would come at the hands of his son, Akhenaten.
The latter’s ambitions resulted in a move from the capital of Thebes to a newly-built capital near Minya, Tel-El-Amarna, but archaeologists have long questioned why.
It comes just days after Egypt transported the mummies of 18 ancient kings and four queens across Cairo from the Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in what was dubbed the “Pharaohs’ Golden Parade”.
Among the 22 bodies were those of Amenhotep III, his wife Queen Tiye and Akhenaten – the father of the infamous Tutankhamun.
Egypt’s Minister for Tourism and Antiquities, Dr Khaled Al-Anany, told Express.co.uk that the public can now see all three of the famous royals together.
He said: “The construction of the museum in Fustat began in the early 2000s and is now fully opened to the public.
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“We always believed that there should be a designated area to showcase the Royal Mummies, so when it was time to transfer them from the Egyptian Museum, we decided to perform this relocation in a manner befitting the greatness of the ancient Egyptian civilisation.
“It culminated in a majestic procession that emphasised the eminence for our ancestors and the role they played in ancient Egyptian hist.
“The parade was the first-of-its-kind, inspired by the ancient Egyptian royal procession with a little twist.”
Dr Al-Anany, who was speaking to Express.co.uk exclusively on the event, said the parade of the “priceless” mummies was “the biggest event to happen for Egypt”.
He added that while it was a promotional campaign for tourism, it was also an “awareness campaign for Egyptian citizens to understand their great civilisation and priceless heritage”.
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The minister continued: “On April 3, the whole world was mesmerised as they watched the parade of the royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to the NMEC.”
Last weekend’s event sparked some fears that the so-called Curse of the Pharaohs may have returned.
Some have blamed the recent fatal train wreck in central Egypt, a building collapse in Cairo, and the bizarre blockage of the Suez Canal on the parade – notably with no grounds for such claims.
But Dr Al-Anany hit the nail in the coffin of such claims.
He said: “There is no Curse of the Pharaohs.
“I believe in the blessing of the pharaohs. We are grateful to these pharaohs who are the torchbearers of our ancient Egyptian civilisation.”