Uncovering one ancient pharaoh is a pretty big deal. Uncovering twenty may very well be the find of the freaking century.
UPenn Egyptologist Josef Wegner has done precisely that. Buried beneath the ancient Upper Egyptian city of Abydos lay the tombs of a score of previously unknown pharaohs.
Last summer, Egyptologist Josef Wegner led a team to dig near the ancient city of Abydos, hoping to find a civilian cemetery. Instead, they discovered a compound of royal tombs that could contain 20 heretofore unknown pharaohs.
The Abydos Dynasty lasted about 50 years, during what’s called the Second Intermediate Period, when when Egypt was going through hard times. Most of the region was dominated by non-Egyptian kingdoms from the north, with a few ragtag, independent kingdoms to the south. Ultimately, the southern kingdom would rise and drive out the northerners.
The Second Intermediate Period marked the arrival of the Hyskos, a Western Asian people who invaded and occupied Northern Egypt for centuries, plunging the nation into a sharp decline. Until Wegner’s team uncovered these tombs, the existence of the Abydos Dynasty had never been confirmed. Now we know it was a dynasty of relatively modest means.
Wegner also found that pharaohs of this dynasty pillaged the tombs of past, wealthier dynasties to decorate their own necropolis.
The Hyskos were eventually driven from Lower Egypt by Theban rebels in 1550 BCE. While hated enemies and foreign oppressors, they brought with them several technological advancements which would become fixtures of Egyptian culture for generations thereafter: the horse, the chariot, and the composite bow.