Cairo – As Americans awaited the temporary tradition of the Thanksgiving Day Parade about 6,000 miles away, Egypt was hoping to restore a tradition that had probably not been seen in a few thousand years. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities was to hold a grand ceremony on Thursday evening in Luxor to mark the reopening of the ancient Avenue of the Sphinx.
The sacred road, once called the “Way of God”, connects the temples of Karnak in the north with Luxor in the south. Baked in sandstone blocks, there are more than 1,050 statues of sphinxes and rams on either side of the 1.7-mile-long road. They have spent centuries buried under the sands of the desert, but slowly, over the years, leading Egyptian archaeologists have brought them back into the light of day.
Dr. Mustafa Al-Saghir, Director General of Karnak Monuments, told CBS News that 309 statues have been excavated in good condition so far, but the number could increase as excavations continue.
Like the ancient world, Sphinxes Avenue has not given up all its secrets.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Some scientists have suggested that it may have been as far back as Queen Hatshepsut about 3,500 years ago, but Dr. Al-Saghir says researchers have “found no archaeological evidence to support this theory.”
Others believe it was built 200 years later in the reign of Shah Amin Hotep III, but Dr. Al-Saghir says the antiquities on the road to the pharaoh were later moved there. He is thought to be the most famous ancient ruler of Egypt, sitting on the throne about 3,000 years ago, who started the Avenue of the Sphinx.
“The oldest road monument we have discovered goes back to King Tutankhamun, who built the first 300 meters from the 10th pillar of the Karnak temple to the entrance to the Mitt Temple,” he told CBS News.
Whoever initiated this project, it is widely agreed that most of the road, which is about 2,400 yards long, was built about 2,400 years ago in Egypt during the reign of King Nectenbo I, the founder of the 30th and last ancestral family. ۔
Every year, the ancient Egyptians celebrated a festival called “Opt” in the second month of the Nile flood season to celebrate the fertility of the gods and Pharaoh. Pastors carried three divine boats on their shoulders, carrying statues of Theben Tride – the god of Amon-re, his sister Mitt, and their son Khonsu – from Karnak to Luxor.
The voyage was made on foot along the Sphinx Avenue, or sometimes by boat along the Nile.
The festival lasted for days and weeks, depending on the ruler of the time, and then the statues were taken back to Karnak.
As time passed, the road became barren and buried under the sand. But in 1949, Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zakaria Ghunim discovered eight Sphinx statues in front of the Luxor Temple.
Excavation has been going on for years, on and off, as archaeologists have uncovered and mapped the ancient road. They had to demolish some of the buildings, including mosques, a church and many houses that stood in the way over the centuries to come.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities was commended for the spectacle it staged last April, when the royalIn a new museum, and the government hopes to hold a similar event on Thursday to promote Luxor as one of the largest open-air museums in the world.
The event will try to recreate the spirit of the ancient Opit festival, and will include music, dance and light shows.