Mummified Ram Heads uncovered at Abydos
More than 2,000 mummified ram heads and a palatial Old Kingdom structure have been uncovered by archaeologists at the Temple of Ramesses II of Abydos.
The finds, located roughly 270 miles (435 kilometers) south of Cairo, come from a period of over 1,000 years, from the 6th Dynasty to the Heroic Age, making some of the discoveries over 4,300 years old.
In addition to the ancient ram’s head, archaeologists from the University of New York also discovered a group of mummified dogs, wild goats, cows, deer, and an ostrich.
The mummified remains are believed to have been left at the site to honor Ramesses II about 1,000 years after his death, the Egyptian Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities said.
It added that the discoveries would expand knowledge of the site over a period of more than two millennia up to the Ptolemaic period. The Ptolemaic Period spanned about three centuries until the Roman conquest in 30 BC.
Abydos, located in the Egyptian governorate of Sohag about 270 miles (435 km) south of Cairo, is one of Egypt’s major though lesser visited archaeological sites. It was a necropolis for early ancient Egyptian royalty and a pilgrimage center for the worship of the god Osiris.
It is thought that the rams and other animals would have been used as offerings during worship of the rams in Abydos during the Bipidus period, Dr Sameh Iskandar, head of the mission added in a statement.
Excavations were carried out by a mission from New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.
Alongside the mummified animal remains, the team uncovered a large palatial structure with walls approximately five meters thick from the Old Kingdom’s 6th Dynasty, in addition to several statues, papyri, ancient tree remains, leather garments and shoes.
The structure could help “reestablish the sense of the ancient landscape of Abydos before the construction of the Ramesses II temple,” the head of the mission, Sameh Iskander, was quoted as said, per Reuters.