Polish egyptologist discovers unique depictions of secretary bird

he 18th Dynasty mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Khaled Elfiqi

Polish egyptologist Filip Taterka from the Polish Academy of Sciences discovered the sole depictions of the raptor secretary bird in the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Barari, in Egypt.

His findings were authenticated by ornithologists involved in the study of the species.

Bas-reliefs showing birds of the secretary species (Latin: Sagittarius serpentarius) are located on one of the terraces of the Temple of Hatshepsut (circa 1473 - 1458 BC) near Luxor in Upper Egypt. They come from the so-called Portico of Punt, where a great Pharaonic expedition to a distant African land was depicted.

"These are the only images of the secretary bird from the times of the pharaohs, the secretary bird can therefore be called the rarest of all things brought back to Egypt from trips to Punt," the egyptologist said.

According to Dr. Taterka, the exact geographical location of Punt remains unknown. Researchers argue over whether it was in Africa or on the Arabian Peninsula. The researcher pointed out that the discovery of the secretary bird sheds new light on the issue, because the bird is only native to Africa.

Hatshepsut's temple, which was partly built into the rock face, consists of three terraces connected by ramps and topped with porticos.

Polish researchers have been working on the temple site since 1961.