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Article

Jaromir Malek

Site of the ancient Egyptian sun temple of King Neuserre (reg c. 2416–c. 2392 bc), on the western bank of the Nile north-west of Abusir, almost opposite the southernmost suburbs of modern Cairo. The temple, called Shesepib re (‘joy of the sun god Re’), is situated at the edge of the Libyan Desert, in the area of the Memphite necropolis.

Six sun temples were built for the state sun god Re-Horakhty by the kings of the 5th Dynasty, but by the late 20th century only two had so far been located. The sun temple of Neuserre was excavated by Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing in 1898–1901. Nearly all the reliefs were removed, mostly to German collections, and many perished during World War II. The temple was built mainly of limestone. It consists, from east to west, of the valley temple, causeway and upper temple. This arrangement is similar to that of pyramid complexes and suggests a generally accepted concept of a purpose-built temple during the Old Kingdom. A brick-built bark of the sun god was discovered near by....

Article

Peter Grossmann

[Abū Mīnā]

Site of a Christian city and pilgrimage centre in the Maryūt Desert, c. 45 km south-west of Alexandria, Egypt. It grew up around the shrine of St Menas, who was martyred during the persecution of the Christians instigated by Diocletian (reg 285–305). The ancient name of the site is not known, and the position of the saint’s grave had been long forgotten until, according to legend, several miracle cures led to its rediscovery. The place then quickly developed into an increasingly major centre of pilgrimage where, among other things, the so-called Menas ampules were manufactured as pilgrim flasks and achieved particular renown. The first excavations of the site were undertaken by Kaufmann in 1905–7. Further excavations have been directed successively by the Coptic Museum in Cairo (1951), Schläger (1963 and 1964), Wolfgang Müller-Wiener (1965–7) and Peter Grossmann (since 1969).

The earliest archaeological remains date to the late 4th century, although the grave itself was in an older hypogeum. The first martyrium basilica erected over the grave dates to the first half of the 5th century and was rapidly enlarged by various reconstructions and extensions. Around the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, the Great Basilica was added to the east in the form of a transept-basilica, making it the largest church in Egypt (...

Article

E. P. Uphill

[now Abū Ruwāsh]

Site of necropolis in Egypt, 9 km north of Giza, which flourished c. 2925–c. 2450 bc. Mud-brick mastaba tombs of 1st Dynasty nobles are the earliest buildings at Abu Rawash. The largest mastaba (26×14 m) has eight large recesses in its long walls and is flanked by eight servants’ burials on its eastern side. Two funerary boats are associated with Tomb M25. The pyramid of King Radjedef of the 4th Dynasty dominates the site. Reached by a gigantic causeway, it is spectacularly situated at a height of c. 157 m above the level of the Nile Valley. It was originally c. 67 m high and 105 m square. The 1500 m causeway originally supported a stone corridor, which, with its side walls, measured 14 m wide, while the embankment below widened to 31.5 m at its base and reached a height of 12 m in places. Most of the stone has been quarried away, but the burial-chamber pit (now open to the sky) gives a good impression of the pyramid’s former splendour. The pyramid stood in a large enclosure (267×217 m) on levelled rock. The funerary temple was never completed as designed, but a boat trench (37×9 m) lies beside the pyramid, and a smaller ritual pyramid stood near by. The easternmost promontory of the mountain range was thought by the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius to be the rock core of an enormous mud-brick pyramid called by him Pyramid No. 1. In the 1980s the site was worked on by Nabil Swelim, who considered it to be the remains of an enormous step pyramid, with about a quarter of its mass being natural rock. He dated it to the end of the 3rd Dynasty, possibly having been built by King Huni, although other writers have suggested a later date, during the 4th Dynasty....

Article

R. G. Morkot

Site in Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile in Lower Nubia, 280 km south of Aswan. With the construction of the Aswan Dam in the early 1960s, the temple complex was one of a number of ancient monuments saved by being moved to a new site. Having been cut into pieces and reassembled, it now stands on the shores of Lake Nasser, 64 m higher and 180 m west of its ancient site. It is not known whether any small rock-cut chapels already existed at Abu Simbel, but inscriptions from the Middle Kingdom show that it was already an ancient sacred site when Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) chose it for his most grandiose, and most famous, Nubian monument.

The construction of the Great and Small Temples of Abu Simbel began in the early years of Ramesses II, and they were completed by around the 25th year of his reign. The Great Temple (...

Article

Abusir  

Miroslav Verner

[Egyp. Per-Usir; Gr. Busiris]

Ancient Egyptian royal necropolis that flourished during the 5th Dynasty (c. 2465–c. 2325 bc). The site is 25 km south-west of the centre of Cairo and has been intermittently excavated since the beginning of the 19th century by teams of English, French, German, Egyptian and Czech archaeologists.

In the 5th Dynasty the sun cult reached its climax, and, according to legend, the first kings of that dynasty were considered the direct descendants of the sun god Re. Sahure (reg c. 2458–c. 2446 bc), the first king who established his pyramid complex at Abusir, presumably wished to be buried in the vicinity of the sun temple of his predecessor, Userkaf, which stood at the northern outskirts of the necropolis. Sahure’s pyramid was small, and its core was built of poor quality limestone. His pyramid temple, however, was carefully executed in different kinds of stone and richly decorated with reliefs, the whole representing a new stage in the evolution of this type of monument. A small subsidiary pyramid, an enclosure wall, a causeway and a valley temple also originally belonged to the pyramid complex....

Article

Abydos  

John Baines

[anc. Egyp. Abdjw]

Egyptian site, c. 50 km south of Sohag, and necropolis of the ancient city of This (perhaps modern Girga), which was briefly the capital of the newly united Egypt in the Late Predynastic period (c. 3000–c. 2925 bc). As the country’s most ancient capital, it remained significant throughout Egyptian history, becoming the principal cult centre of Osiris, a funerary deity who embodied the tradition of kingship. From the later Middle Kingdom (c. 1750 bc), the Early Dynastic period (c. 2925–c. 2575 bc) royal necropolis was believed to contain the tomb of Osiris; because of this, it was visited by pilgrims until Roman times (30 bcad 395). Large cemeteries continued to accumulate, and they were characterized in the latest period by a distinctive Greco-Egyptian type of stele. These merged Egyptian and Classical styles with a largely Egyptian decorative repertory and were increasingly inscribed in Greek. Thus for two millennia Abydos was an important centre of non-royal art, as well as the location of major temples....

Article

Nimet Özgüç

Site in central Turkey that flourished in the first half of the 2nd millennium bc, in a fertile plain watered by the River Karasu. The oval mound of Acemhöyük, measuring 700×600 m, and 20 m high, rises in the centre of the town of Yeşilova, 18 km north-west of Aksaray; it was surrounded by a lower city 600 m wide, now covered by the modern town. Acemhöyük was thus the largest ancient settlement in this agricultural region, and excavations were begun in 1962 by a Turkish team led by Nimet Özgüç. Some of the objects from the excavations are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara; most are in the archaeological museums at Niḡde and Aksaray; and a fine collection of ivories from the site is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Occupation of the mound began at least as early as 3000 bc and the surviving architectural remains and artefacts from the Early Bronze Age settlements (levels IX–VI) testify to the existence of a distinctive local culture that nevertheless maintained close links with contemporary settlements in central Anatolia and Cilicia. The lower town was first occupied in ...

Article

Ai  

Joseph A. Callaway

[‛Ay; now Khirbet al-Tall; et-Tell, Arab.: ‘The Ruin’]

Site of a walled Early Bronze Age city of 11.1 ha, 24 km north of Jerusalem. It was built c. 3100 bc by outsiders from north Syria over a village of c. 3200 bc. It survived through four major phases until c. 2350 bc, when an unknown enemy sacked and burnt the entire city and drove away its inhabitants; even its ancient name was lost. In about 1200 bc, pioneer settlers from the coastal region moved inland and established a village of 1.2 ha on the acropolis ruins of the ancient site, which was occupied until c. 1050 bc. The site was excavated from 1933 to 1935 by Judith Marquet-Krause and from 1964 to 1972 by Joseph Callaway. Finds are in the Rockefeller Museum and the Hebrew University, both in Jerusalem. The site has been identified as the biblical city of Ai, captured by Joshua (Joshua 7:2–5 and 8:1–29), although there is, in fact, no evidence of occupation then....

Article

R. A. Tomlinson

Site of Greek settlement in north-west Turkey at Nemrud Kalesi, 35 km south of Pergamon. It is situated on a steep-sided hill easily accessible only from the north, about three hours walk inland from the modern coast road. Its foundation date is uncertain: although Herodotus (, I.cxlix.1) listed it among the 12 Aeolian Greek cities in the region, there are few traces of it in either the historical or the archaeological record until the 3rd century, when Attalos I Soter of Pergamon (241–197 bc) incorporated it into his kingdom. Its substantial fortifications make clear its function as a defensive position. The earliest walls, of crude, irregular masonry, are on the north side and presumably belong to the Aeolian city. Much more substantial walls on the other sides show Pergamene characteristics and must date to the later redevelopment. Several buildings of this period are well preserved, the most important being the agora, built in the Pergamene manner on a terrace against the eastern hillside supported by a massive retaining wall. This wall is incorporated into a three-storey stoa (the ‘Market Building’) with a lower floor containing shops facing down the slope, an enclosed floor acting as a storeroom above this, divided by a central arcade, and an upper floor at the level of the terrace with a conventional Doric stoa facing on to the agora. Other important buildings are a temple with a two-storey stoa enclosing its precinct and a theatre with vaulted substructures. About 45 minutes’ walk to the east of the city is the Ionic Temple of Apollo Chresterios, which bears a Roman dedication but is Hellenistic in form and perhaps in date....

Article

J. D. Hawkins

[Ayin-Dara]

Site on the west bank of the River Afrin in Syria, about 5 km south of the town Afrin. Attention was drawn to the ancient site by surface finds of sculpture, and a large Neo-Hittite temple of the early 10th century bc was located below five levels of later occupation. Excavations here by the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities in 1956, 1962 and 1964 have been reported, but more recent work has not been published. Finds are in situ or in the National Museum in Aleppo.

Parts of the north-west and south-west sides, with a fragment of a south-east façade, have been excavated and published. The remains suggest a structure of regular rectangular plan measuring in total not less than 38×32 m. An exterior terrace wall seems originally to have been faced with continuous slabs of fine black basalt on a dressed plinth; some of these were found in situ...

Article

Kathryn Walker Tubb

[Arab. ‛Ayn Ghazāl]

Neolithic site in Marka, north-eastern Amman, Jordan. Excavations have yielded impressive lime-plaster statues and clay figurines dating to the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period (c. 7200–6000 bc). The site covers 11 ha, but less than 1% has been excavated. Houses have been found with walls constructed of undressed stones bonded with a mud mortar. Sometimes they were built on previously levelled ground and often had no foundation trenches. By the late 20th century no complete house plan had been recovered, but a two-room dwelling was probably typical. The main walls were rectilinear. Houses were much modified in design detail and by renovation, indicating long periods of use. The interior walls were covered with a mud plaster to which a finer lime plaster was applied. The floors, incorporating shallow, basin-like hearths, were covered with a thick bed of coarse lime plaster, which levelled the ground and provided a base for a fine, thin lime plaster. Both floor and walls were frequently painted with red iron oxide and burnished, with pigment applied either as solid colour or in splotches and biomorphic patterns....

Article

Aizanoi  

William E. Mierse

[Lat. Aizani]

Site of Hellenistic and Roman city, 54 km south-west of Kütahya in Turkey. Its remains comprise a Temple of Zeus, two agoras, a heroön, a macellum (market), a round structure with the Edict on Prices of Diocletian (ad 301) carved on its exterior walls, a stadium and theatre complex, a bath–gymnasium, bridges and quays. Most date to the 2nd century ad, the period of the city’s greatest prosperity. The theatre–stadium group and the Temple of Zeus were both built during the reign of Hadrian (reg ad 118–37).

The temple is particularly significant because of its excellent state of preservation and its combination of Greco-Anatolian and Roman architectural forms. Inscriptions on the exterior walls of the cella attest to the date of construction. They also record a gift of land to Zeus made by the Hellenistic rulers Attalos I Soter (reg 241–197 bc) and either Prusias I (...

Article

Ora Negbi

[Tell el-‛Ajjul; anc. Sharuḥen]

Site of a Bronze Age city in Israel that flourished in the 2nd millennium bc. It consists in a large mound 6 km south-west of Gaza, which was excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in the early 1930s. Petrie presumed that he was excavating ancient Gaza, the Egyptian administrative capital of the southern province of Canaan during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1500–c. 1200 bc). Re-evaluation of the historical and archaeological evidence has confirmed the identification of the site with Sharuḥen, the Hyksos stronghold besieged and plundered by Ahmose (reg c. 1539–c. 1514 bc), the founder of the New Kingdom, at the close of the Middle Bronze Age (the Hyksos were Semitic rulers of Egypt in the 17th and 16th centuries bc). Finds are widely spread, with important collections in the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, the British Museum, London, and the Petrie Museum at University College, London....

Article

V. Ya. Petrukhin

Pieces of jewellery dating to the 6th–4th centuries bc from a ruined burial site, discovered in 1908, at Sadzeguri, a ravine on the River Ksani in eastern Georgia. It includes numerous gold items: huge neck pendants, bracelets, necklaces, signet-rings, belts, earrings; silver and bronze vessels; and gold, silver and bronze items from horses’ harnesses. In its manufacture, its forging, chasing and filigree, and its ornament (e.g. rosettes and palmettes), the jewellery displays a combination of local, Ionic and Achaemenid traditions. Of particular note are the filigree or chased gold pendants in the form of teams of horses and the gold rosettes on which stamp decoration is soldered....

Article

Akhmim  

Janice W. Yellin

[anc. Egyp. Khent-Min; Gr. Chemmis; Lat. Panopolis]

Site of the capital of the 9th Upper Egyptian nome, 200 km north of Luxor, which flourished from Early Dynastic times to the Roman period (c. 2925 bcad 395). Apart from a few excavations during the 20th century, the ruins of the town, as well as temples and extensive cemeteries, have never been completely surveyed or excavated.

Only one of the temples—a rock-cut chapel with relief decoration, dedicated to Min, the principal local god—has survived even partially intact. It was built by a local priest of Min during the reign of the 18th Dynasty king Ay (reg c. 1323–c. 1319 bc) and restored by another priest of Min during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphos (reg 285–246 bc). Within the main city there were two large temples with pylons (ceremonial gateways), one in the north-west area built by Tuthmosis III (reg...

Article

Donald F. Easton

[Alaca Hüyük; Alaja Hüyük]

Site in north-central Turkey, c. 40 km south-west of Çorum and 160 km east of Ankara. It was occupied in the Bronze Age (from c. 3400 bc) and later. Of greatest artistic interest are 14 Early Bronze Age (eb) royal tombs and the sculptures from the Hittite city gate (see fig.). The ruin mound is on a natural hillock; it measured c. 250×320 m and had c. 14 m of deposit. A lower town has not been identified. Early investigations of the site were conducted by Ernest Chantre (1863), Georges Perrot (1865), Henry John Van Lennep (1869), Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1881) and Théodor Macridy (1906). The Turkish Historical Society began systematic excavations in 1935 under Remzi Oǧuz Arık, and these continued under Hamit Zubeyr Koşay, assisted by Mahmut Akok, in 1936–49 and 1963–79. In the excavations up to at least ...

Article

Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

Donald F. Easton

[Alishar]

Site in north-central Turkey, c. 45 km south-east of Yozgat, once occupied by a town of considerable importance in the development of Anatolia, ancient. It flourished from the Early Bronze Age (eb), before c. 3000 /date BC, and reached its apogee in the Middle Bronze Age (mb), c. 2000–c. 1500 /date BC, when it boasted an Assyrian trading colony and was probably the seat of an Anatolian king. It comprises a mound (245×145 m), which rises 32 m beside a tributary of the Konak Su, and a lower terrace (520×350 m). The site was excavated by the University of Chicago from 1927 to 1932, clearing the mound to Post-Hittite levels and then trenching down to ground-water level; virgin soil was reached only on the terrace. Nineteen occupation phases were distinguished on the mound and fourteen on the terrace. Finds from the excavations are housed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara....

Article

Tahsin Özgüç

Citadel and temple complex of the Urartians, 20 km east of Erzincan, Turkey, which flourished in the 8th and 7th centuries bc. Altıntepe is in the eastern half of the fertile Erzincan plain, on the main Erzincan–Erzurum highway, an east–west trade route of great historical and strategic importance. Systematic excavations began there in 1959 on behalf of the Turkish Historical Society and the Directorate General of Ancient Monuments, under the direction of Tahsin Özgüç, and continued until 1968. The finds are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

Altıntepe is a very steep and rocky natural hill 60 m high and 200 m across, surrounded by two sets of defensive walls. The outer wall, the older of the two, is 12 m thick. These citadel walls are built of huge blocks of stone with square towers placed at regular intervals. Urartian buildings excavated on the hill include a temple, tombs, an open-air shrine, storerooms and living-quarters, as well as a reception hall (...

Article

[anc. Akhetaten]

Site of an Egyptian city of the mid-14th century bc, on the eastern bank of the Nile, c. 90 km north of Asyut. The site, which has given its name to the Amarna style of art, was chosen by the 18th Dynasty king Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) for his new capital, which temporarily replaced Memphis and Thebes as the nucleus of the Egyptian empire. It was dedicated to the solar god Aten, thus its ancient name Akhetaten (‘Horizon of the Aten’), whose cult was intended to replace worship of the traditional Egyptian pantheon. The city was occupied for no more than 25 years, from the fifth year of Akhenaten’s reign until some time in the reign of Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc). Because of this relatively brief period of occupation and the lack of prior and subsequent settlement, the site is a rare example of ancient Egyptian urban ...