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Lunedì, 13 Giugno 2011 12:16

Discovering the archaeological park of Medinet Madi

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Il sito archeologicoIt has become the first archaeological and nature park in Egypt, connected by a track in the desert to Wadi Ryan, the nature park where the famous valley of whale fossils lies. After many long years of excavation and investigation there now lives a new Medinet Madi, the site in the region of Fayoum which has been under archaeological concession for the University of Pisa since 1978 and where, last 8 May, a very modern Visitor Centre was inaugurated.

The results of the project – in which the 'Cooperazione Italiana', the Supreme Council of Antiquity from Egypt (SCA) and the University of Pisa all collaborated – were illustrated on 7 June at the Chancellory of the University of Pisa. After greetings and introductions from the Deputy Chancellor Nicoletta De Francesco, talks were given by Edda Bresciani and Antonio Giammarusti, scientific director and technical director respectively, of the ISSEMM (Institutional Support to Supreme Council of Antiquities for Environmental Monitoring and Management) created under the Program for Italo-Egyptian Environmental Cooperation (EIECP). 

Medinet Madi, recently more often defined as the 'Luxor del Fayoum', hosts the only preserved temple from the Middle Kingdom with hieroglyphic writings and scultped scenes present in Egypt, and other monuments from the Ptolomaic, Roman and Coptic period. This 'city of the past' (from the Arabic name 'Medinet Madi') boasts three temples, the small chapel of Isis, its dromoi, lions and sphinxes, and its extraordinary porticoed square. All this was consolidated after completion of methodologically perfect restoration work. The area is connected by a 28 km panoramic path in the desert with the protected area of Wadi el Rayan.

Of special interest is the Ptolomaic temple, characterised by a vaulted structure one time utilised for the incubation of crocodile eggs. According to Edda Bresciani, sacred crocodiles were bred in the structure. Her team has discovered thirty-nine eggs in various states of evolution in a hole covered by a layer of sand. In the adjacent room there was a perfectly preserved stone bath. “This makes us hypothesise that the building had the function of a nursery for sacred crocodiles which, when hatched from their eggs, could be placed into the bath, probably for a brief period, before the animals were sacrificed, mummified and sold to devotees visiting the temple and crocodile necropli in Sobek,” wrote Edda Bresciani in her excavation report.

The ISSEMM Project was entirely financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Directorate for Development Cooperation, designed to give technical and scientific support for the monitoring and management of Egyptian archaeological sites.

Additional Info

  • abstract: The 'Luxor del Fayoum' boasts preserved monuments from the Ptolomaic, Roman and Coptic period
  • datanews: 7 June 2011
  • sottotitolonews: The 'Luxor del Fayoum' boasts preserved monuments from the Ptolomaic, Roman and Coptic period
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