Ancient rubbish dump reveals Goddess’s artefacts dating back thousands of years
Hundreds of artefacts dating back thousands of years have been found buried underneath an ancient rubbish tip in Egypt.
Polish archaeologists working at the site in Luxor in the south of the country came across the 3,500-year-old dump while working on the reconstruction of the Chapel of the Goddess Hathor, which is part of the larger Temple of Hatshepsut complex.
The artefacts, given as offerings to Hathor, included painted plates and bowls with plant motifs, symbolising rebirth from the Land of the Dead.
Ceramic flasks with breast motifs and cow figurines were also found in the rubble.
Dr Patryk Chudzik, a member of the research team from Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, said: “After entering it, however, it turned out that it had never been examined and cleaned, because the debris was lying up to a height of about half a metre.
“The votive offerings were left by local residents asking Hathor for her support.”
One of Ancient Egypt’s most revered goddesses, Hathor is well-known from reliefs in the temple of Hatshepsut and from Egyptian mythology where she is often shown in the form of a cow or as a woman with cow ears.
As a sky deity, she was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly representatives, the pharaohs.
The researchers found small stone statues depicting women that are known to be votive gifts intended to curry favour with the goddess Hathor.
Dr Chudzik believes that these items were placed by local Egyptians thousands of years ago at the Chapel of Hathor, but there were so many that temple managers had to clear them away, thereby creating the pile of rubbish.
Who exactly the tomb belonged to remains a mystery, but Dr Chudzik said: “In antiquity the tomb fell prey to robbers.
“It must have been valuable, because it belonged to a person closely associated with Pharaoh Mentuhotep II, probably his son or wife."
Several hundred objects were discovered in the mound. Some of them date from the later Eighteenth Dynasty, which has left the researchers puzzled as to how they got there so long after the tomb was built.
The Polish archaeologists have concluded that these were offerings made by worshippers and priests at the Hathor shrine located above, which belongs to the temple of Hatshepsut.
The Temple of Hatshepsut has been the site of work for Polish archaeologists for almost 60 years.
Work started in 1961, when the father of Polish archaeology, Professor Kazimierz Michałowski, led a mission to document and preserve the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.
The temple is a mortuary temple built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut, who lived in 1507–1458 BC.
Located opposite the city of Luxor, it is considered to be a masterpiece of ancient architecture.