Egypt: Archaeologists discover traces of pharaoh Khufu
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The incredible society, which is believed to have started around 3100BC, continues to infatuate both experts and the public. Its monuments, including the Great Pyramid of Giza, remain intact, thousands of years after its famous pharaohs perished. But on the east bank of the Nile, more than 60 miles from Luxor, lies the village of Qurta, where evidence of its inception can also apparently be seen today.
Professor Joann Fletcher took a first-hand look during Odyssey’s ‘The Story Of Ancient Egypt’ documentary.
She said: “Unless you’re an archaeologist, you almost certainly won’t have heard of Qurta, because there aren’t any great temples or royal tombs to admire.
“High in the cliffs, you can see real signs of ancient life here, thousands of years before the pyramids. This is where our story begins.
“Nothing escapes the sharp eye of Dr Dirk Huyge and he’s got something very special to show me.
“These carvings in the rock reveal an amazing story about the beginnings of Egyptian life.”
During the series, Prof Fletcher spoke to Dr Huyge, an egyptologist who has now sadly passed away.
He gave his thoughts on the ancient artwork and detailed why it still baffles experts.
He said: “This is not just a cattle, this is the mighty aurochs, a wild cattle.
“These are extremely powerful images that seem to be in movement.
“About 50 percent of their diet was composed of aurochs, so they were experts and masters in representing this.
“It’s always high on the cliff, a very prominent position that gives an excellent panorama over what must have been the hunting grounds of the people.
“We can guess, but we don’t know [why they made these carvings].”
Prof Fletcher gave her own opinion on why she thought the ancient civilisation decided to carve the images into the rock.
She said: “These wild arches were ancestors of the domestic cow and nearly 20,000 years ago beef was the main thing on the menu.
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“It’s easy to picture these early hunters here as they tracked their prey.
“But the landscape would have looked very different from today.
“Because, back then, this was savanna grassland, a green and fertile region.”
The success of ancient Egyptian civilisation came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture.
The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, and social development and culture
Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizeable portion of the Near East.
During the course of its history, it was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, and the Macedonians under the command of Alexander the Great.
The Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander’s death, ruled Egypt until 30BC, when, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.
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