Restoration reveals engravings in Egypt’s Temple of Esna

After clearing years of dust, salt and bird droppings off the walls and ceilings of Luxor's Temple of Esna, archeologists found ancient depictions of eagles.

 People walk in front of their houses near a canal which flows into the River Nile in Comer village in Esna, south of Luxor, Egypt, October 27, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS)
People walk in front of their houses near a canal which flows into the River Nile in Comer village in Esna, south of Luxor, Egypt, October 27, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Images of 46 birds arranged in two rows were discovered at the Temple of Esna in Luxor, Egypt, during an Egyptian-German expedition this month.

After clearing years of dust, salt and bird droppings off the walls and ceilings of Luxor’s Temple of Esna, archeologists found ancient depictions of eagles, vibrantly colored, with their wings outstretched. Some of the birds are shown with the heads of goddesses Wadjet and Nekhbet, who were the deities of southern and northern Egypt, respectively.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities tweeted on Saturday that:

The Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry tweeted on Saturday that the Egyptian-German archaeological mission had uncovered reliefs and engravings on the ceilings and walls of the temple for the first time.

The discovery came as a surprise, since the reliefs were not mentioned in works by noted French Egyptologist Serge Soniron, who documented the temple’s inscriptions and engravings in 1963 and 1975.

Construction of the temple is estimated to have begun during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54 CE) and was completed during the reign of Emperor Decius (249-251 CE).

 Farmers ride on a donkey cart near farmland in Comer village in Esna, south of Luxor, Egypt, October 27, 2019.  (credit: REUTERS) Farmers ride on a donkey cart near farmland in Comer village in Esna, south of Luxor, Egypt, October 27, 2019. (credit: REUTERS)

The temple suffered the effects of urbanization in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The mission also found a Roman engraving in red ink, dating from the era of Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE). More studies will be carried out to better understand the origins and purpose of the engraving.