Sun Cult’s Ancient Temple Uncovered in Cairo

History

| LAST UPDATE 08/08/2022

By Veronica Anderson
Ancient Egypt Sun Temple
DeAgostini via Getty Images

An ancient Egyptian temple belonging to the sun cult was recently discovered near Cairo. According to belief, it had been ritually demolished thousands of years ago. Archeologists uncovered the remains of the 4,500-year-old temple around 12 miles south of Cairo, which belonged to the Egyptian sun god Ra at the site of Abu Ghurab. Here's what to know about the fascinating finding. 

Built during ancient Egypt's 5th dynasty, around approximately 2465 B.C. to 2323 B.C., the temple is loaded with rich history. The fifth dynasty was known as a "period in which the cult of the sun reached its apex with the construction of a new type of monument specifically devoted to the sun god, commonly known as 'Sun Temple,'" explained Massimiliano Nuzzolo, co-director of the archaeological dig and a researcher at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The sun was an extremely prevalent cult in ancient Egyptian times, and eventually, Ra and Amun (the chief god of Thebes) meshed to form Amun-Ra. Amun-Ra was praised until around 1,500 years ago and was considered the most powerful and influential of all the Egyptian gods.

Ancient Egypt Sun Temple
 Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector via Getty Images
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So naturally, finding a temple that belonged to this powerful Egyptian god was an exciting feat for the archeologists who discovered the site. The temple was built from mud bricks, and "the walls of this building were all plastered in black and white and often also show traces of painting in red and blue," according to Nuzzolo. However, 19th-century German archeologists found a "very small part" of these mud bricks, making it not the first find of the sun temple.

The sun temple was actually ritually demolished thousands of years ago before it was finished in order for a new sun temple to be built. The new temple was created for the Pharoah, Niuserre, who "reused part of the structure as a platform or sub-foundation for his new temple," Nuzzolo said. However, researchers are unsure as to what rituals were exactly performed inside the ancient Egyptian sun temples. According to Nuzzolo, they don't really know much regarding these cult rituals in general and don't have "enough data to understand what was the daily life of the people living around these temples." Stay tuned while this story develops.

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