A Russian archaeological expedition spanning more than a decade has unearthed the enclosure walls of the first capital of Egypt – the legendary city of Memphis that was the heart of Egyptian civilization for over 2,000 years.
Scientists from the
Egyptology Studies Center of Russian Academy of Sciences (CESRAS)
have excavated the foundation of what they believe once were huge
walls that used to surround the ancient Egyptian capital
currently known under its Greek name, Memphis.
The success of the Russian effort to bring to light part of the
5,200 year-old walls was confirmed by Egypt’s Antiquities
Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty.
“Several white limestone fragments of the ancient capital’s
wall were discovered during excavation work carried out by an
archaeology team of the Russian Institute of Egyptology at Kom
Tuman, south of Giza Pyramids,” said Damaty.
“We hope this finding will
enhance our knowledge of one the most important cities of Ancient
Egypt. Memphis played a significant political, religious and
economic role in the history of the country. One of its names was
Inbu-Hedj, or the White Walls,” the minister said.
Excavations on the new wall in Memphis will last for unknown time
as the occupation layer reached 15 meters, as was revealed during
control drilling on the site, CESRAS director Galina Belova told
“Conceptually, this archaeological site is
inexhaustible,” Belova said. “If only we had…better
financing, we would made the excavation site much larger, but
unfortunately, under-financing narrows our research a great
deal,” she said.
Fifteen years ago, when Russian Egyptologists first obtained a
concession from the Egyptian government, they were looking at
three sites that used to be the highest hills once hosting the
city in the ancient Nile’s delta.
Parts of the walls which were unearthed at the Kom Tuman
archaeological site are very rich in handicraft findings, as the
CERES expedition has already found quite a lot of artisan
production shops, including a number of pottery making ovens and
While Egyptian authorities are taking efforts to maintain free
and secure conditions for Russian archaeologists on the site,
Belova said that amid turbulence following the revolution some of
the locals have been devastating archaeological sites.
“As soon as we leave an excavation they dig it with holes in
hope that we have hidden some kind of gold things there. The
farmers desperately need land and they occupy more and more
territories that are actually historic sites,” Belova said,
stressing that Egyptian officials are very helpful and assist a
lot to the scientists, while for the local population history is
something out of their world.
The scientists have addressed Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities to
prevent spoliation of the archaeological site of Memphis. The
ministry promised to block off the Kom Tuman Complex with high
wall similar to the one already erected around another ancient
city of Luxor.
Belova informed RT that many foreign scientists are working with
Russian colleagues as members of the CESRAS expedition in Egypt.
Egyptologists from Austria, Germany, the US and many other
countries are taking part in excavations.
Originally, Memphis was centered around a pharaoh palace erected
on a platform to dominate the nearby territory. The palace was
surrounded by a large number of military headquarters and
fortifications that occupied a huge territory estimated 500
Memphis is now an open-air museum is multilateral, and while the
deepest layers are dated before 3,000 BC, the city lasted for
over 2,500 years, with one of the latest, the 26th pharaoh
dynasty, also constructing a palace on the remaining foundations
of the ancient buildings.