Mon, 25 Sep 2023

CAIRO, Egypt: Egypt opened its 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes to the public this week, in a swanky ceremony, after over seven decades of failed attempts.

The entire stretch connects Karnak Temple with Luxor Temple and was uncovered in the ancient city of Thebes.

"The amount of rubble that was removed over the decades was up to 8 meters high. Every layer of sand tells us a story about that avenue," Mostafa el-Sagheer, the head of Karnak's Antiquities Department who oversaw the project to excavate the last stretch of the avenue, told ABC News.

The avenue was first sighted in 1949 when Egyptian archeologist Mohammed Zakaria Ghoneim uncovered eight statues near the Luxor Temple, el-Sagheer said. From 1984 to 2000, the entire route of the walkway was uncovered.

The project was delayed after the 2011 political uprising in Egypt further complicated efforts. It was resumed in 2017.

"From 2017 to 2021, the final 20 or 25 percent of the road was excavated," el-Sagheer said.

Most of the original 1,057 statues in the avenue have been recovered. They are divided into three shapes, the first being a body of a lion with a ram's head that was erected over a nearly 1,000-foot area between the Karnak Temple and the Precinct of Mut during the reign of New Kingdom ruler Tutankhamen.

The second shape is a full ram statue, while the third, which comprises the largest number of statues, is of a sphinx.

El-Sagheer said the ancient Opet festival would be also relived during this week's festivities.

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