Rare Sun Temple Found in Egypt

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November 14, 2021

The Sun is rising again in Egypt.

Sun temple

Archaeologists have found a sun temple built in ancient times. Only six are known to have existed, and only two had been found.

The dig is under one of the known sun temples, Abu Gorab, near Abusir, south of Cairo. The Fifth Dynasty pharaoh Nyuserre Ini had that sun temple built. Another, built by Userkaf, is nearby.

Archaeologists found Nyuserre Ini's sun temple near the beginning of the 20th Century. An earlier team had found Userkaf's sun temple in the mid-19th Century, but excavations took place only in the 1950s.

Dr. Massimiliano Nuzzolo, an assistant professor of Egyptology at the Warsaw Academy of Sciences, hailed the discovery, citing it as a reward for the work that he has been doing for the past several years. Nuzzolo and others found mud bricks underneath Abu Gorab, suggesting the presence of an earlier construction. They found the base of a white limestone pillar, suggesting an equally impressive building done at an earlier time.

Sun temple

A sun temple evoked the power of Ra (Re), the sun god. In the temple was a large courtyard, and in the center of that courtyard was an obelisk built exactly on the Sun's east-west axis, so that sunlight on the summer solstice would shine directly on the obelisk; in the same way, the Sun would set exactly on the opposite side.

Only pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty had such temples built, doing so in order to cement their deification while they were alive (as opposed to pyramids, which were designed to ensure that a pharaoh became a god in the afterlife).

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