10 unsolved mysteries of ancient Egypt that archaeologists are still battling over today
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Ancient Egypt has been stirring the minds of scientists and ordinary people ever since the Great Sphinx was first cleared of sand. And although archaeologists have made many discoveries related to Egypt, the land of the pharaohs keeps under its sands many mysteries. And sometimes it happens that new discoveries give rise to even more mysteries and answered questions.
1. The Lost Labyrinth of Egypt
2,500 years ago in Egypt there was a huge labyrinth, which, if we believe Egyptian chroniclers, “surpassed even the pyramids.” It was a huge building two stories high, inside which were 3,000 different rooms connected by a winding labyrinth of passages so complicated that no one could find their way out without a guide. Below was an underground level that served as a tomb for kings, and above was a massive roof made of a single giant stone.
Countless ancient authors have described the labyrinth, claiming to have seen it with their own eyes, but 2,500 years later scholars have no idea where it has gone. The most similar thing that has been found is a massive 300-meter-long stone plateau, which some believe was the base of the labyrinth. If so, history must be rewritten.
In 2008, a team of geolocation experts checked the plateau and discovered that there was an underground labyrinth beneath it, as described by one of the ancient writers. At this point, however, no one has even begun excavating the site, which may be Egypt’s greatest archaeological wonder.
2. The unknown queen of Egypt
In 2015, archaeologists stumbled upon the tomb of a woman who was buried among the great pyramids of the Ancient Kingdom of Egypt. Her tomb bore inscriptions that referred to her as “Pharaoh’s wife” and “Pharaoh’s mother.” 4500 years ago she was one of the most powerful women on the planet. But no one knows who she was. Historians have dubbed her “Hentakavess III,” based on the assumption that she was the daughter of Pharaoh Neferirkar Kakai and Queen Hentkaus II, as well as the wife of Pharaoh Neferefra and the mother of Pharaoh Menkauhor. But this is only speculation. Whoever she was, she was once an incredibly powerful woman, but today everyone has forgotten about her.
3. the Israeli Sphinx.
In 2013, archaeologists in Tel Hazor, Israel, discovered something they never expected to find so far away from Egypt: A 4,000-year-old Egyptian sphinx. More specifically, they found the statue’s legs resting on a pedestal. The rest is believed to have been deliberately destroyed thousands of years ago.
Before someone destroyed this sphinx, it was about 1 meter tall and weighed half a ton. No one knows what the Egyptian statue is doing in Israel. The only clue they have been able to find is the inscription on the pedestal, which read “Pharaoh Meekerin” (a pharaoh who ruled Egypt around 2500 B.C.). It is very unlikely that Tel-Hazor was conquered by the Egyptians. During the reign of Meekerin (or Maenkaur), Tel-Hazor was a trading center in Canaan, directly between Egypt and Babylon. It was vital to the economic well-being of the two major powers in the area. As scholars suggest, it may have been a gift.
4. the mysterious death of Pharaoh Tutankhamun
Pharaoh Tutankhamun was only 19 years old when he died, and no one knows exactly what happened to him. His death is a mystery. Scientists believe that Tutankhamun had a whole bouquet of diseases, and it is impossible to say exactly what caused his death. He had malaria, and he was born with so many genetic disorders that historians are convinced his parents must have been brother and sister. He had a crooked leg and genetic defects that some believe may have made his death no more than a matter of time.
The mummy also had a fractured skull, so archaeologists have long believed that the pharaoh was killed by a blow to the head. But today there is a theory that his head was simply damaged during the embalming of the body. Tutankhamun injured his knee shortly before his death, leading to the theory that he died as a result of a chariot accident. But that, too, is only a theory. In any case, his body was so deformed that the young pharaoh apparently could not even stand without assistance.
5. The hidden camera in the pyramid of Cheops
The largest pyramid was built 4,500 years ago for Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops). It is a huge structure almost 150 meters high, built from more than 2.3 million stone blocks. Until recently, everyone believed that there were three chambers inside it. If anyone thinks there is too much space left inside, he is not alone. That’s why a team of researchers checked the pyramid in November 2017 to see if scientists had missed anything earlier.
Above the Great Gallery of the pyramid, they found signs that there might be a large hidden chamber (the size of the largest chamber found in the entire pyramid). It is strange that the Egyptians deliberately built the hidden chamber, making it completely inaccessible. There are no corridors or other routes to it. The only way to place something inside was to do it at the time the pyramid was built and seal it. No one has yet seen what is inside the hidden chamber. But whatever it was, Pharaoh Khufu apparently didn’t want it to ever see the light of day again.
6. A mummy wrapped in a foreign book
In 1848 a man bought an ancient Egyptian mummy from a shopkeeper in Alexandria. For years he displayed it as a common exhibit, not realizing how strange the artifact he found was. Only by removing some of the bandages from the mummy decades later did scientists discover something very unusual. The mummy was wrapped in the pages of a book, but this book was not written in Egyptian. It took years of research to figure out what that language was.
Today scholars know that the book was written in Etruscan, a language used by an ancient civilization that once lived in what is now Italy. It is a language of which today almost no one knows anything. The text in which the mummy was wrapped is the longest Etruscan text ever found by researchers. But no one knows what it says. Scientists have been able to understand a few words that appear to be dates and names of gods, but one can only speculate why a dead body was wrapped in pages. Moreover, it is not known why an Egyptian mummy was wrapped in an Etruscan book.
7. The Light of Dandara.
On the wall of the temple at Dandara in Egypt there is a huge relief showing a very strange image. It depicts (according to the usual interpretation) a serpent in a large ball of fire flying out of a large lotus flower, which is supported by a pillar with human arms. It’s a strange picture, but not just because the pillar has arms. It just looks a lot like a model of the Crooks tube, a type of early light bulb invented in the nineteenth century. In fact, it looks so much like a light bulb that some people think it might be a diagram showing how to create one.
While this theory is similar to the ones usually told by pseudo-historians on Youtube, it has a pretty convincing argument. The room in which the Light of Dandara is depicted is the only room in the entire temple that did not have conventional oil lamps. Archaeologists have found soot, which indicates the use of lamps by the Egyptians, in all parts of the building except this room. Therefore, if this room did not have a similar early version of a lamp, how could anything be seen in it at all.
8. Destroyed Pyramid.
The pyramid of Djedefre must have been the tallest pyramid in Egypt. Although Jedefre did not have the resources to build the largest pyramid, he used a little trickery. He built the pyramid on a hill. But for some reason, although all of Egypt’s other pyramids had stood for more than a thousand years, Jedefre’s pyramid was the only one that was completely destroyed. Only the base was left of it.
No one knows what happened to the pyramid, there are only theories. Some believe that Jedefra simply died before the pyramid was completed and it was left in ruins. Others believe that the Romans dismantled it into stone 2,000 years ago, destroying the historical monument. Or maybe the people of Egypt hated Jedefre enough to destroy an entire pyramid.
9. The disappearance of Queen Nefertiti
Queen Nefertiti entered the legends because she is one of the few women who ruled Egypt. She was the Great Wife of Pharaoh Ehnaton and also probably the mother of Pharaoh Tutankhamun and is believed by scholars to have ruled Egypt alone for some time. However, the place of Nefertiti’s repose is unknown.
The search for her tomb continued for years. Until 2018, archaeologists were almost certain they had found her burial in a secret chamber hidden in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. In May, however, they scrutinized the wall and found that there was nothing there. Curiously, there is no mention of her death in Egyptian history. After the twelfth year of her husband Ehnaton’s reign, all mention of her simply disappeared from historical documents. Some believe that this happened because Nefertiti became a pharaoh and adopted a different name, but not everyone agrees with this theory. Some believe that the clue is more prosaic. According to Dr. Joyce Tizeli, Nefertiti was never a pharaoh. Either way, her fate remains a mystery.
10. The Lost Punt.
Ancient Egyptian writings are full of references to a country called Punt. It was an ancient African kingdom full of gold, ivory, and exotic animals that stirred the imagination of the Egyptians. And it must have been extremely powerful. The Egyptians so dubbed this place the “Land of the Gods.
But there is no doubt that Punt really existed. There are numerous mentions of it in the ancient writings. In the ancient Egyptian temple there is even a picture of the queen of Punt, but scientists have not managed to find any traces of the existence of this state. The only information containing hints of the existence of Punt are the artifacts possessed by the Egyptians. Scientists, desperate to find out where this kingdom was, have studied the mummified remains of two baboons that the Egyptians brought back from Punt and determined that the baboons most likely came from approximately modern Eritrea or Eastern Ethiopia. This at least gives a starting point as to where to look for Punt, but it is actually a huge area for archaeological searching.
Egypt’s hidden gems
Egypt is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. Its unique and rich history continues to fascinate tourists with its attractions. Egypt’s top attractions, such as the pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, Tutankhamun and the Winter Palace Hotel, and the Valley of the Kings, never lack for visitors.
During the peak season, visiting the most popular sites can be tiring, as it is very crowded and the weather is hot. Nevertheless, there are still some lesser-known but no less precious places that many travelers to Egypt miss.
Hidden Egyptian Pearls.
What makes Egypt special is that there is always something to see as archaeologists continue to make new discoveries. Fortunately, visiting Egypt has never been difficult for tourists to enter.
Here are five fascinating, beautiful and intriguing places that not everyone knows about. Don’t miss them when you visit Egypt.
Qom Al-Shawfa Catacombs, Alexandria.
The Qom Al Shokafa Catacombs is a three-level underground cemetery complex that is about 30 meters below ground level. It dates back to the second century AD and is part of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages.
The Catacombs of Kom Al-Shkafa, Alexandria.
This is the largest Roman burial site in Egypt and was discovered by accident in 1900. It is one of the last major works on ancient Egyptian religion and demonstrates the fusion of Pharaonic and Greek styles in Alexandria.
The catacombs consist of dozens of rooms and a large banquet hall with exquisite elements such as sculptural columns, statues, sarcophagi and religious symbols.
Cleopatra’s Baths, Marsa Matruh.
The cave where Cleopatra came to bathe. It said that the Egyptian queen visited the bay during her honeymoon with Mark Antony. The cave has a skylight and a pool of water.
Cleopatra’s Baths, Marsa Matruh.
What makes this place special is the way the water naturally flows in and out: it creates a pool of fresh, warm water, which is why Cleopatra chose this place. The spring is unprotected and still in use today.
There is also a stunning crater lake on the volcanic natural slope of the cave, and the bay is covered with beautiful pine trees that grow along the coast.
City of the Dead.
Zawiyet al-Mayitin (City of the Dead) is one of the largest cemeteries in the world. It is a Muslim and Christian cemetery that stretches for several kilometers and is known for its thought-provoking beauty.
City of the Dead.
Some of the tombs date back to the seventh century and are not typical tombstones . They are ornate and extravagant, and some look like small houses with an adjacent garden.
The City of the Dead has become a residential neighborhood for about half a million people. The streets are quiet, narrow, atmospheric and often unpaved. It is a truly unique place, especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset.
Sannur Cave, Bani Swayf.
The quality and rarity of the natural rock formations make the cave a unique and special place. The limestone chamber was discovered by an explosion in a nearby quarry in the 1980s.
Sannur Cave, Bani Swayf.
The rock formations are about 60 million years old and look otherworldly. When the light hits them, the caves seem like fairy tales. It is a karst cave with mesmerizing stalactites and stalagmites.
The rare caves are the best example of this type in the region, and they are about 700 meters long. Sannur Cave has been under government protection since a decree was issued in 1992.
This small, quiet island is a gem and can provide visitors with a welcome respite from the crowds of tourists in Cairo and Giza. Because it played an important role in the ivory trade in the past, its name means “elephant” or “ivory” in ancient Egyptian.
The island has a rich history, as it was a strategically important trading and military port in antiquity, as well as in the Greek and Roman periods. In addition to being a thriving port settlement, the island was also a major cult center for the ram-headed god Khnum.
Located in Aswan, the island is now a visitor’s paradise. It is a beautiful vacation spot with many attractions, including temples, stunning gardens, museums, and an ancient fort.