Friday, January 10, 2014

Pharaoh in recently-discovered Egyptian tomb identified as Sobekhotep I

As reported by Voice of Russia, January 7, 2014:

The tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh King Sobekhotep I, believed to be first king of the 13th Dynasty (1781BC-1650BC), has been discovered by a team from the University of Pennsylvania at Abydos in Middle Egypt, 500km south of Cairo.

The team from the University of Pennsylvania had discovered the quartzite sarcophagus of Sobekhotep I, which weighed about 60 tonnes, a year ago, but was unable to identify who it belonged to until last week, the ministry said.

Its identity was established after the team found fragments of a slab inscribed with the pharaoh's name and showed him sitting on a throne, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a statement.

"He is likely the first who ruled Egypt at the start of the 13th dynasty during the second intermediate period," the minister said.

The discovery is important as not much information was available about Sobekhotep I "who ruled Egypt for four years and a half, the longest rule at this time," said Ayman El-Damarani, a ministry official.

The tomb's discovery in the southern archaeological site of Abydos is expected to reveal more details about his life and rule, he added.

The team also discovered the remnants of canopic vases traditionally used to preserve internal body organs, along with gold objects owned by the king.

Since new royal tombs are rarely discovered, and as only ten from the 13th Dynasty are known—all at Dahshur, just south of Cairo—this is an important find. King Sobekhotep I ruled for only about three years, at a time when Egypt was entering a period of decline. In fact, the chronological evidence for this period is so complex that scholars are still debating the order of the 13th Dynasty kings.

Sobekhotep I’s tomb was constructed from limestone brought from the Tura quarries near modern Cairo, while his burial chamber is made from red quartzite. The burial was originally topped by a pyramid. Among the further finds are a 60-ton quartzite sarcophagus, a stele bearing the name of the king, an image of Sobekhotep I enthroned, parts of the canopic jars that once contained the pharaohs internal organs, and funerary objects.

Excavation at the tomb is ongoing, though Egypt’s antiquities chief, Mohamed Ibrahim, hopes to open the site to the public, once the tomb has been restored.
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