Egypt Finds Temple Dedicated to Zeus, King of the Gods
By: April Carson
The immense structure was built of pink granite, which has been excavated. It is decorated with reliefs of animals, including a sphinx. Zeus was the king of the gods in Greek mythology and this temple was likely built to honor him. It is unclear when the temple was constructed, but it is thought to date back to the Ptolemaic period.
The remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Zeus-Kasios, a god with the characteristics of both Zeus and the weather god Kasios, were discovered by archaeologists in Egypt on Monday (April 25), according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
The ancient city of Pelusium, which was once on the far eastern edge of the Nile River, was found in Egypt's northwest Sinai Peninsula. This region was previously known as the city and harbor of Pelusium during Greco-Roman times (332 B.C. to A.D. 395).
Pelusium was utilized for various purposes because of its advantageous position, including as a fortress during the reign of the Egyptian pharaohs; and relics dating to the Graeco-Roman period, Byzantine era, Christian era, and Islamic period suggest it was in use in similar ways then as well, according to a 2010 paper presented at a Sinai International Conference for Geology and Development.
The team focused on the temple after excavating around the remains of two pink granite columns that were discovered on the ground surface, according to Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. These columns once served as the temple's main entrance; however, they toppled due to a massive quake in ancient times.
The columns led the archaeologists to a series of stairs that descend into the temple's main hall. This hall would have been where priests performed rituals and animal sacrifices to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods in Greek mythology.
Researchers have known for decades that there may be a Zeus-Kasios temple at the site. According to the 2010 article, archaeologists discovered that the granite columns were most likely transported by boat from Aswan in southern Egypt to Pelusium during the early 1900s and later in the 1990s. Furthermore, Greek inscriptions were discovered at the site by French Egyptologist Jean Clédat, suggesting that a temple to Zeus-Kasios was constructed there in Graeco-Roman times. However, because it is near an ancient fort and a church, archaeologists never did a thorough excavation of the site.
Archaeologists now know that the temple was larger than previously thought, according to the statement. There are also other relics, including granite blocks that were most likely part of a stairway leading up to the temple's main entrance on the eastern side of the structure, Ayman Ashmawy, head of Egypt's Antiquities Authority, said in the news release.
Large pieces of pink granite were discovered in the streets surrounding the temple site, suggesting that later builders reused the temple's stones for other projects, such as neighboring churches.
The researchers are now utilizing photogrammetry, a technique that employs many digital photographs to build virtual 3D images, in order to try to replicate the temple virtually. Sinai archaeological sites director Hisham Hussein said this in the announcement.
inscriptions discovered on some of the granite blocks suggest that Roman Emperor Hadrian (ruled 117-138) rebuilt the temple, according to Hussein.
"The temple of Zeus was one of the largest and most important temples in Egypt," said Hussein. "Unearthing a temple dedicated to such an important deity is a key find, especially because it is so well-preserved."
Live Science originally published this story.
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