Institut für die Kulturen des Alten Orients

Project Athribis (DFG)

Athribis is located about 7 km southwest of Sohag (approx. 200 km north of Luxor) in an area that was once part of the 9th Upper Egyptian nome of Ancient Egypt. The archaeological site extends over 30 hectares, most of which has not yet been excavated. It consists of the temple complex, settlement, necropolis, and quarries.

The Tübingen Temple Project

Two temples are located within the temple complex, one of which is still buried under meter-high sand with only parts of a large pylon visible. The other was excavated by the Tübingen project until 2019. Since 2003 this project, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Christian Leitz and in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities, operated with the aim of excavating the buried rooms and recording and evaluating their iconographic representations and texts. As of 2015 an excavation in cooperation with Yale University is examining part of the monastery that surrounds the temple. The Tübingen Temple Project was generously funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (2003-2004) and the German Research Foundation (2005-2020).

The Tübingen Temple Project succeeds the investigations of Flinders Petrie, who was the first to excavate the temple during a period of six weeks in 1907-08, and those of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, which excavated the temple from 1981 to 1997. Despite the work of these two projects, a third of the temple remained unexcavated.

Archaeological excavations in the temple of Ptolemy XII

The temple was constructed and decorated over a period of more than 200 years. Ptolemy XII, who ruled 81-58 and 55-51 BC, built the 75m × 45m temple (Fig. 1) and decorated the interior rooms, while the outer walls and columns date to the reigns of Tiberius (14-37 AD), Caligula (37-41 AD), and Claudius (41-54 AD). Short texts also mention Nero (54-68 AD), Vespasian (69-79 AD), Titus (79-81 AD), Domitian (81-96 AD), and Hadrian (117-138 AD).

To excavate the buried rooms, about 400 fallen blocks each weighing up to 34 tonnes, had to be recovered (Fig. 2-4). These were then examined in dedicated repositories. Large-scale excavations in the temple thus were possible since 2012 and were completed in 2019. With the completion of the excavations a tour path and information panels for visitors were installed.