Cartouche of the Last Pharaoh of Egypt Found at Illegal Dig Under Home in Abydos

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A team of Egyptian archaeologists found a cartouche of the last native Egyptian pharaoh under the home of a man in Abydos, Egypt. The man and his accomplices were doing an illegal excavation underneath the old mud-brick home.

A cartouche or carved stone relief gives the name and epithets of ancient Egyptian kings. In this case it was King Nectanebo II, who ruled during the very end of the 30 th Dynasty, 360 to 342 BC.

The team found the cartouche under the home in the Beni Mansour area of Abydos during an inspection. The archaeological committee is from the Al-Belinna inspectorate.

Agents of the Tourism and Antiquities Police have confiscated the home until the committee can complete its investigation, Hani Abul Azm told AhramOnline . He is the chief of Upper Egypt’s Central Administration for Antiquities. He said the cartouche, which is a stone block, could have formed part of the king’s royal shrine or been the extension of a temple wall constructed on the king’s orders.

AhramOnline says Nectanebo II is famous for his construction undertakings in Abydos.

Egypt prospered under the Nectanebo II’s reign. His artists’ distinctive style was unique during the Ptolemaic kingdom. Nectanebo II was inspired by many cults of Egypt’s gods. He left his mark on more than 100 sites, including beginning the huge temple of Isis.

A relief from the time of Nectanebo II’s reign showing gods carrying flowers and drinks for the pharaoh. ( Creative Commons  Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License )

After authorities expropriate the house, archaeologists will undertake more excavations under it, according to Abul Azm.

It’s hard to say if the cartouche, which is partly submerged in water underground, is part of a shrine or temple wall, said Ashraf Okasha, the director-general of Abydos Antiquities. He said the block is 1.4 by 40 cm (0.55 by 15.75 inches).

The archaeological committee found the illegal excavations underway, with a 4-meter-deep (16 ft) pit dug under the home, he said. It was at the bottom of this hole that the cartouche was discovered.

The Metternich Stela, another stone monument from the time of the reign of King Nectanebo II. Photo Source:

The Metternich Stela, another stone monument from the time of the reign of King Nectanebo II. Photo Source: ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Earlier this year, Ancient Origins reported on the spectacular Metternich stela, also created during the reign of King Nectanebo II. Details related to the origins of the artifact remain unknown. It is a part of a group of stelae known as ”Cippus of Horus”- a collection of stelae used to protect people from dangers like snake or crocodile attacks. However, this particular stela is one of the largest of its kind. It also has some of the best-preserved magical text from its time.

The stela has magical recipes to heal poisons, mostly animal poisons. Legends also say the stela itself has magical powers. Ancient doctors would pour water over the stela and collect it to give it to a person who had been poisoned. The spells discuss different animals, but they especially focus on cats and reptiles. Cats were believed to be animals of gods and goddesses, so they were thought to have the ability to heal every poison. The spell against reptile poison was connected to the serpent demon Apophis. It was thought to force the serpent to vomit when the priest was chanting the spell. At that point the sick person would also vomit – relieving him or herself of the poison. The stela also describes some stories related to deities. In fact, most of the text is dedicated to the story of Horus – who was poisoned but cured.

Top image: The bottom of the cartouche is presently submerged in water. It was found in an ongoing illegal excavation at the bottom of a 4-meter pit in a home in Abydos. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities

By Mark Miller



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