Ancient Engraving
© Ahram Online

During routine excavations on the northern side of the Amun-Re Temple in Luxor's famous Karnak temple complex, a team from the French-Egyptian Centre for the Study of the Karnak Temples this week unearthed a gate that they say has led to a significant breakthrough in archaeologists' understanding of Egypt's enigmatic 17th Dynasty. It was this dynasty that launched the military campaign that eventually succeeded in ridding Egypt of the tribe of invaders known as the "Hyksos."

The gate, carved out of limestone, is engraved with the name of a king called "Sen-Nakht-En-Re." Mansour Boreik, general supervisor of monuments in Luxor, told Ahram Online that this king's name was previously mentioned twice - during the Rameside period and during the reign of King Ahmose, the latter of whom is traditionally given credit for expelling the Hyksos from Egypt.

Boreik went on to note that, despite these earlier references to Sen-Nakht-En-Re, archaeologists had believed him to be an imaginary king, since no monuments had ever been found bearing his name. The recent discovery of the pharaoh's name on the gate in Karnak, however, strongly suggests that the king was, in fact, once a ruler of ancient Egypt.

In addition to Sen-Nakht-En-Re's cartouche, the gate is also engraved with hieroglyphic writing, according to which the king had the gate built from limestone blocks transported from Tora (modern Helwan, south of Cairo), which had been under Hykos rule at the time.

Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim described the recent find as "a groundbreaking discovery" that promised to shed further light on the history of the 17th Dynasty. "It is also adds another king to the long list of ancient Egyptian pharaohs," he said.

Ibrahim has asked Christophe Thiers, head of the archaeological mission, to continue excavations of the gate so as to learn even more about the period in question. "The Temple of Karnak, which has not yet been fully excavated, no doubt still contains many secrets," Ibrahim concluded.