Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed the ruins of a huge building on the outskirts of Cairo that is believed to have been a luxurious home in the ancient city of Memphis, according to a statement by the Ministry of Antiquities.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, noted that the structure is 16 by 14.5 meters (52.5 by 47.6 feet) in size and located in a region thought to be a residential zone of Memphis, a large settlement that was founded by Menes – the pharaoh who united Upper and Lower Egypt into one country – in the later half of the 31st century BCE. For the next 1,000 or so years, Memphis was the capital of Egypt. Even after kings stopped ruling from the city, it continued to serve as an important cultural, commercial, and religious center until the 4th century CE, although the beginning of its decline has been traced back to the Roman annexation of Egypt in 30 BCE.
The building’s walls are made of mud bricks that are supported by large limestone blocks and covered on the interior and exterior with attractive red bricks. Interior staircases are also made of red bricks, and the structure features four entrances and several corridors. A smaller building, attached to the southwest side, houses a large Roman-style bath and a room that appears to have been used for religious rituals. The Ministry’s announcement explains that several basins used for ritual cleansing were found in the chamber, as well as a limestone offering pot holder that is carved with a likeness of the god Bes and an ornate border. According to Adel Okash, head of the Central Department of Cairo and Giza Antiquities, this finding supports the theory that many individual homes had private shrines.
Further details, including an approximation of the structure’s age, are not available at this time, but Okash stated that the excavation team plan to continue investigating the site in order to “reveal more secrets of this building.”