Press Release, with photographs.
An Egyptian archaeological mission directed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), has discovered a large mud brick wall dating to the reign of King Thuthmose IV (1400-1390 BCE). The wall was uncovered in the area located in front of King Khafre’s valley temple on the Giza plateau.
Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosny added that the discovery was made during routine excavation work carried out by the SCA.
Dr. Hawass stated that the newly discovered wall consists of two parts: the first section is 75cm tall and stretches for 86m from north to south along the eastern side of Khafre’s valley temple and the Sphinx; the second part is 90cm tall and is located in the area north of Khafre’s valley temple. This section is 46m long and runs from east to west along the perimeter of the valley temple area. The two parts of the wall converge at the south-east corner of the excavation area.
Hawass explained that according to initial studies carried out at the site, the newly discovered wall is a part of a larger wall found to the north of the Sphinx. This wall was constructed by King Thuthmose IV as an enclosure to protect the Sphinx from winds. According to ancient Egyptian texts the construction of this wall was the result of a dream which Thuthmose had after a long hunting trip in Wadi El-Ghezlan (Deer Valley), an area next to the Sphinx. In the king’s dream, the Sphinx asked the king to move the sand away from his body because it choked him. For this favor, the Sphinx promised to make Thutmose IV King of Egypt. To accomplish this task, Thuthmose IV removed the sand that had partially buried the Sphinx and built an enclosure wall to preserve it.
Hawass pointed out that archaeologists previously believed that the enclosure wall only existed on the Sphinx’s northern side because a 3m tall by 12 m long section had been found there. This theory has now been disproven thanks to the discovery of the two new wall sections along the eastern and southern sides of the Sphinx.
In addition to the two sections of the enclosure wall, the SCA team found a mudbrick wall on the eastern side of Khafre’s valley temple. Hawass believes that this wall could be the remains of Khafre’s pyramid settlement, which was inhabited by priests and officials who oversaw the activities of the mortuary cult of Khafre. This cult began at the king’s death and continued until the eighth dynasty (ca. 2143-2134 BCE), which was the end of the Old Kingdom.
Essam Shehab, supervisor of Khafre’s valley temple excavation, said that the mission also dug a 6m deep assessment trench in the area located in front of Khafre’s valley temple to search for any activity dating to the Middle Kingdom (2030 – ca. 1660 BCE). Initial inspection did not reveal any Middle Kingdom activity in the trench as it was filled with almost 5m of sand. Such amount of sand, said Shehab, suggested that the area was abandoned during the Middle Kingdom.
Excavations continue in order to reveal the rest of the Thuthmose IV enclosure wall and any other secrets still hidden within the sand.