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A millennium after ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II rule, archaeologists have announced the discovery of more than 2,000 rams’ heads at the temple he once walked.
A team of archaeologists with New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) made the discovery in the city of Abydos, one of the oldest cities and richest archaeological sites in Egypt. It’s located about seven miles west of the Nile River in Upper Egypt, some 270 miles south of Cairo, according to CBS News.
The ram skulls were found stacked in the northern precinct of the temple, said Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, which announced the discovery on Saturday.
“We came across some random pieces of skulls first,” Dr. Sameh Iskander, head of the ISAW mission, told CBS News. “We didn’t know what they were, but as we continued our excavation and exploration, all of sudden we found a whole area filled with ram skulls.”
“These are obviously offerings that were made to the temple of Ramses during the Ptolomaic period, which shows even 1,000 years after Ramses II, that he was still revered.” Ramses II ruled over ancient Egypt for about 60 years before his death in 1213 BC.
Iskander explained that some of the ram heads were still mummified, while “others could have been mummified but the wrappings or the covers of mummifications were not there anymore.”
The skulls were found among other objects, from papyrus to leather artifacts and statues, about six feet under the contemporary surface of the desert in what had been a storeroom of the ancient temple.
CBS News reports the archeologists also unearthed a large structure made of mudbricks with walls about 16 feet thick dating back about 4,200 years, to ancient Egypt’s Sixth Dynasty.
“It is a major structure that will change our concept of the landscape of Abydos. This wall was built for something, it was at least 30 feet high.” Iskander said. “We don’t know exactly what this wall is. It’s possible that this was a wall of the antient Abydos, which was never found. Could it be something else? Maybe, that’s what we are working on now.”
The mission also found other mummified animal remains, including dogs, goats, cows and gazelles.