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Pontius Pilate is mentioned among the 100 ancient Egyptian inscriptions on amethyst mining site

connectVideoPontius Pilate is mentioned among the 100 ancient Egyptian inscriptions on amethyst mining site

Archaeologists have discovered more than 100 ancient inscriptions carved in the rocks at Wadi el-Hudi, where the ancient Egyptians mined amethyst.

Archaeologists have discovered more than 100 ancient inscriptions carved in the rocks at Wadi el-Hudi, where the ancient Egyptians mined amethyst.

In addition to the carved-rock inscription, the researchers also found 14 stele (Latin inscriptions carved on a stone slab or pillar) and 45 ostraca (inscriptions written on pieces of pottery).

Analysis of the newly discovered inscriptions on the corridor. So far, archaeologists can tell that many of the inscriptions date from around 3,900 years, which modern archaeologists call the ” Middle Kingdom .” One of the inscriptions mentions Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, who is in charge of the process of Jesus according to the bible. Many of the ostraca date back to about 2000 years, around the time that Rome took over Egypt. [See Photos of the Ancient Egyptian mining site & Inscriptions]

Amethyst was very popular in Egypt during the Middle kingdom, a time when the pharaoh of Egypt learned that Wadi el-Hudi is a good source for the material. “Once the [pharaoh] found, they kind of went bonkers to get going,” Kate Liszka, the director of the Wadi el-Hudi expedition, told live Science. During the Middle Kingdom, “they bring it back and make it into jewelry and doling it out to their elite and their princesses.”

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Al Wadi el-Hudi have been investigated in the past by other scholars, little excavation has been done and the surveys missed many inscriptions. “The site is just so full of inscriptions behind each stone and every wall that they miss a lot of them,” Liszka said.

The team is using 3D modelling, the reflection transformation imaging (RTI) and photogrammetry, among other techniques, to assist in the finding of new inscriptions, map archaeological remains and re-analyze the inscriptions discovered by scientists who surveyed the Wadi el-Hudi in the past. This work has a greater urgency as a modern-day gold mines opened in the area, causing damage to archaeological remains.

Many mysteries

The team hopes that the inscriptions, together with other discoveries made during the excavations, will shed light on the many mysteries around Wadi el-Hudi.

For example, it is not clear whether the miners were working at the site of their own free will. “I don’t know if I dig up a legitimate settlement, where people were treated well, or if I’m excavating a prison camp,” Liszka said. Some of the inscriptions say that the miners were proud of their work, which suggests that they are there of their own free will. Yet, no bodies have been found, suggesting that someone who died was brought back to the Nile Valley for the burial place abandoned in the desert, researchers said.

The inscriptions also show that there are places where groups of soldiers were looking down on the mines, led the researchers to wonder whether these soldiers were the protection of the miners or ensure that the miners kept working. An inscription shows two soldiers wrestling each other in the passing of the time.

Another mystery: How was the ancient Egyptian government to get water to the miners? The nearest possible is 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) away from the Wadi el-Hudi, and it is possible that it is not in use long ago. “Best-case scenario, they were carrying water for 1,000 to 1,500 people a minimum of 3 km, but possibly in one of the Nile [River],” which is about 18.6 miles (30 km away), Liszka said.

During the excavation, the team found a mysterious, 3,400-year-old stela written in the name of a high official with the name of Usersatet, viceroy of Kush, a region south of Egypt. It dates from a time when there were no activities in Wadi el-Hudi and leave the site. This leaves archaeologists with the question of why someone made the effort to drag the stela 18. 6 km to the eastern desert and leave it at the Wadi el-Hudi.

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Originally published on Live Science.

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