LAST SECTION OF THE "AVENUE OF SPHINXES" UNEARTHED
Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed an ancient sphinx-lined road in the last section of the "Avenue of Sphinxes," a 2.7-km (1.7-mile) alley that connects the grand temples of Luxor and Karnak from north to south on the east bank of the Nile River.
Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has announced that the discovery occurred during excavation work aimed at restoring the avenue, which was built by the 30th Dynasty King Nectanebo I (380-362 B.C.) on an older path dating from the 18th Dynasty. Nectanebo I lined the avenue, which was used for religious ceremonies and processions, with 1350 sphinxes, all inscribed with his name.
Archaeologists have unearthed twelve sphinxes so far. Inscribed with the name of Nectanebo I, many of the statues were missing their heads.
The Egyptan team has excavated 20 meters (65 feet) of the road. Built from sandstone coming from the quarries at Gebel Silsila, north of Aswan, the pathway is estimated to run for 600 meters (1,968 feet) to the Nile. According to Mansour Boraik, Supervisor of Luxor Antiquities, this is the first time a new road that runs from east to west, toward the Nile, has been found.
"The King used this road for religious processions. Along this way the sacred boat of Amun, king of the gods, traveled on the god's annual trip to visit his wife, Mut, at Luxor temple," Hawass said.
The entire Avenue of Sphinxes is expected to be restored by March 2011. At that time, some fragmented sphinxes, now under restoration, will be placed on display along the road.
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