Egypt celebrates the grand reopening of its 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes


Egypt unveiled a sacred road lined with thousands of statues on Thursday, which was used as a procession route for the gods 3,000 years ago.

Called the Avenue of Sphinxes, this 1.7-mile stretch features more than 1,050 statues of sphinxes and rams that has been reconstructed with the hopes of attracting tourists from around the world. 

The ancient walkway, also known as the Way of the Rams and the Path of the Gods, connects the famous Karnak and Luxor temples in what was the city of Thebes, which used to be Egypt’s capital in antiquity.

Mohamed Abd el-Badei, a top Egyptian archeology officials, said the oldest ruins along the pathway are six structures built by Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt’s only woman pharaoh, that dates to 1400 BC.

The pathway, paved in sandstone blocks, was used every year for a festival called ‘Opet’ that was held the second month of the Nile flooding seasons.

Hieroglyphics on the walls of one of the temples state the holiday was marked by parades and dancers in celebration of the bounty flooding brought to the fields. 

Priests carried three divine boats on their shoulders, transporting statues of the Theban Triad — the deities of Amun-Re, his consort Mut and their son Khonsu from one end to the other.

The glitzy ceremony began at at 12.30pm, with President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi reenacting of an ancient holiday, along with other senior officials. 

Hundreds of singers and dancers wearing traditional ancient Egyptian clothing walked out of the Temple of Karnak in a glorious procession that some participates carrying giant golden boats on their shoulders just as priests did thousands of years ago. 

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Egypt has reopened a sacred road lined with thousands of statues on Thursday, which was used as a procession route for the gods 3,000 years ago

The Avenues of the Sphinxes was later used by the Romans and is believed to have been renovated by Cleopatra, the fabled Ptolemaic queen who left her cartouche – an inscribed hieroglyphic bearing her name – at the temple in Luxor.  

The tradition began to fade as time went on, until the road was completely abandoned and eventually became buried under the sand.

It was not until 1949 that human eyes saw the sphinx statues again, when eight were discovered by Egyptian archaeologist Dr Zakaria Ghoneim, ABC News reports. 

From 1958 to 1961, 17 more statues were uncovered and then 55 more from 1961 to 1964. 

Called the Avenue of Sphinxes, this 1.7-mile stretch features more than 1,050 statues of sphinxes and rams that connect the Temples of Karnak in the north with Luxor in the south

Called the Avenue of Sphinxes, this 1.7-mile stretch features more than 1,050 statues of sphinxes and rams that connect the Temples of Karnak in the north with Luxor in the south

Hundreds of singers and dancers wearing traditional ancient Egyptian clothing walked out of the Temple of Karnak in a glorious procession that some participates carrying giant golden boats on their shoulders just as priests did thousands of years ago

Hundreds of singers and dancers wearing traditional ancient Egyptian clothing walked out of the Temple of Karnak in a glorious procession that some participates carrying giant golden boats on their shoulders just as priests did thousands of years ago

Most of the original statues have been recovered and are depicted in three different shapes, one includes the head of a ram

Most of the original statues have been recovered and are depicted in three different shapes, one includes the head of a ram

The entire walkway was identified from 1984 to 2000, which led to a large excavation of the site.

However, this meant hundreds of homes, mosques and a 115-year-old Evangelical church had to be demolished to restore the Avenue of the Sphinxes.

Most of the original statues have been recovered and are depicted in three different shapes, with the first being a body of a lion with a ram’s head that was constructed over a nearly 1,000-foot area between the Karnak Temple and the Precinct of Mut during the reign of New Kingdom ruler Tutankhamen, who ruled about 3,300 years ago.

The second is a full ram statue erected in a remote area during the reign of the 18th dynasty’s Amenhotep III, from 1391-1353 BC, before being later moved to the Temple of Khonsu in the Karnak complex.

Hieroglyphics on the walls of one of the temples state the holiday was marked by parades and dancers in celebration of the bounty flooding brought to the fields

Hieroglyphics on the walls of one of the temples state the holiday was marked by parades and dancers in celebration of the bounty flooding brought to the fields 

The pathway, paved in sandstone blocks, was used every year for a festival called ‘Opet’ that was held the second month of the Nile flooding seasons. Pictured is the Temples of Karnak

The pathway, paved in sandstone blocks, was used every year for a festival called ‘Opet’ that was held the second month of the Nile flooding seasons. Pictured is the Temples of Karnak

Thursday’s celebration was sparked by the Pharaoh’s Golden Parade on April 3 (pictured) that a procession of 22 ancient tombs make a 40-mile journey through the streets of Cairo. A total of 18 kings and four queens, all of which who died more than 3,000 years ago, were transported to a new museum in the southern region of the capital

Thursday’s celebration was sparked by the Pharaoh’s Golden Parade on April 3 (pictured) that a procession of 22 ancient tombs make a 40-mile journey through the streets of Cairo. A total of 18 kings and four queens, all of which who died more than 3,000 years ago, were transported to a new museum in the southern region of the capital

The third shape is the iconic sphinx that were constructed during the reign of Nectanebo I (380–362 BC).

Karnak Temple was built around 2,000 to 4,000 years ago and is dedicated to Amun-Ra, an ancient Sun god. It covers an area of over 250 acres.

Luxor Temple was constructed some 3,400 years ago by Amenhotep III and has been used as a site of continuous religious worship from the ancient Egyptians to Christian Copts and later Muslims.

Thursday’s celebration was sparked by the Pharaoh’s Golden Parade on April 3 that a procession of 22 ancient tombs make a 40-mile journey through the streets of Cairo.

A total of 18 kings and four queens, all of which who died more than 3,000 years ago, were transported to a new museum in the southern region of the capital.

Each mummy was placed inside their own golden carriage that feature the name of the royal on the outside.

The carriages were designed with shock absorbers to ensure the ancient remains survived the trip.

The ceremony snaked along the Nile corniche from the Egyptian Museum overlooking Tahrir Square to the newly opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat.

The Avenues of the Sphinxes was later used by the Romans and is believed to have been renovated by Cleopatra, the fabled Ptolemaic queen who left her cartouche - an inscribed hieroglyphic bearing her name - at the temple in Luxor (center)

The Avenues of the Sphinxes was later used by the Romans and is believed to have been renovated by Cleopatra, the fabled Ptolemaic queen who left her cartouche – an inscribed hieroglyphic bearing her name – at the temple in Luxor (center)

The road, which is lined with sculptures, eventually became unused as time went on and sand covered it

The road, which is lined with sculptures, eventually became unused as time went on and sand covered it 

The glitzy ceremony began at at 12.30pm, with President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi reenacting of an ancient holiday, along with other senior officials

The glitzy ceremony began at at 12.30pm, with President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi reenacting of an ancient holiday, along with other senior officials

The entire walkway was identified from 1984 to 2000, which led to a large excavation of the site

The entire walkway was identified from 1984 to 2000, which led to a large excavation of the site

However, this meant hundreds of homes, mosques and a 115-year-old Evangelical church had to be demolished to restore the Avenue of the Sphinxes (pictured: Luxor Temple)

However, this meant hundreds of homes, mosques and a 115-year-old Evangelical church had to be demolished to restore the Avenue of the Sphinxes (pictured: Luxor Temple)

The 1.7-mile stretch features more than 1,050 statues of sphinxes and rams

The 1.7-mile stretch features more than 1,050 statues of sphinxes and rams



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