Image copyright Colour Digital Image © Anatomy & Evolution Foundation Image caption Archaeologists found temple site near Nile river in Hisham Mubarak province of Egypt
Archaeologists have found a landmark 4,500-year-old temple complex in Egypt.
It was discovered in a remote area in the Nile Delta, near the River Nile.
The site – dubbed by local experts the “Egyptian Sphinx” – also has a temple dating back to the 15th Dynasty.
These are the oldest temples discovered anywhere in the country and could represent a moment in Egypt’s religious history.
Image copyright Colour Digital Image © Anatomy & Evolution Foundation Image caption The temple complex was found near a river and around 3km from the Nile
Researchers were shocked by the site’s size and positioning, where the temple and a smaller temple are in a rocky ridge, 1km from the Nile.
“You expect the temples to be in an area 100m [328 feet] wide and 40m [131 feet] high [in] the lower valley,” expert Mohamed Abu Rami told local newspaper, Mena.
“So to discover them where it is, in one site, is remarkable, as the people were rich, there was lots of housing, there were currency, they had great resources.”
The temple complex was discovered in a remote area of Hisham Mubarak province, south of Cairo.
Image copyright Colour Digital Image © Anatomy & Evolution Foundation Image caption In just one site, archaeologists say the temples are the biggest they have ever discovered in Egypt
Experts from Archaeology and Evolution Foundation – an organisation working with local researchers – had visited the area regularly but this was the first time they had come across a temple site.
The antiquities ministry is helping with excavations.
The foundations and prayer gardens found in the temple complex are larger than elsewhere in Egypt, while its appearance is less complex than elsewhere on the Nile.
Image copyright Color Digital Image © Anatomy & Evolution Foundation Image caption Resembling geometric abstract art, scientists say the temples have hidden histories
“It’s a fantastic discovery. I’m very hopeful now that we will find more treasures,” Mohamed Abu Rami said.
Image copyright Colour Digital Image © Anatomy & Evolution Foundation Image caption Here, the Sun Temple has a white roof and five towers in the pyramid shaped architecture
Another expert, Maher Murad, added: “It could be the beginning of a new grand development in the Delta, which will be the third axis of the country.”
Both archaeologists said they would return to the site in 2019 with the knowledge gained so far and with the intention of digging more before the structures are completed.
Writing on the organisation’s website, Dr Murad says the temple could be Egypt’s “most magnificent discovered”.
Image copyright Colour Digital Image © Anatomy & Evolution Foundation Image caption This temple is in a spot four to five times bigger than the one to the north. The temple site is around 15km away from the River Nile
Image copyright Colour Digital Image © Anatomy & Evolution Foundation Image caption Sinai Aqueduct on left, the temple site on right. It was built just over 1,000 years ago. The pharaohs apparently believed the temple was a “giant star”
The imposing temples to the north were built just 1,000 years ago, during the second dynasty, so their appearance is less complex.
They are built in a more modernistic way, the temples like geometric abstract artwork and feature tall towers and a white roof.
However, they are still very elaborate, especially their construction. Both experts were surprised to find their temples had never been touched.
The temple complex is likely to contain the largest temple ever found in Egypt, and one that dates back in history, Dr Murad said.